Dinah Wilson rowing her dinghy on her 88th birthday in 1937. Maritime Museum of Tasmania

Date of Event: N/A

Vessel type: Dinghy

Location: Cygnet, Southern Tasmania

Suggested title: Row Row Row her boat...


Nipping out to run errands in the car is something many Australian families take for granted. A hundred years or so ago, in Cygnet, southern Tasmania, Dinah Wilson did most of her family errands in a rowing boat! Dinah married ship builder John Wilson in 1872.

Like many ship builders of that time John built ships as close as possible to sources of good timber and, for a few years after their marriage, his yard was at Esperence, some 10km down the river from home in Cygnet. Two or three times each week Dinah would row supplies to her husband, and then row home again alone.

According to her family Dinah used the boat practically every day for the rest of her life, and was photographed in it by Hobart newspaper The Mercury on her 88th birthday in 1937.

Interesting anecdote

The story goes that John the ship builder didn’t actually build the dinghy, but that it was built by ex-convict Walter Paisley. If true, presumably the skilled John would’ve taken a close interest in its construction if it was intended to carry such precious cargo as his new wife.



Please briefly note any objects (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the story

The dinghy is currently displayed as part of the Maritime Museum of Tasmania's permanent exhibition. The museum possesses a conservator's report detailing the dinghy's construction that suggests that it was constructed from 'off-cuts', presumably from John Wilson's ship-yard. The early european settlements of southern Tasmania were built on the shores of a network of waterways and evidence exists of families keeping in touch with their neighbours by boat, rowing to church or school, as well as using the larger ketches and river steamers to send produce and livestock to market and obtain goods from Hobart.

Name of person submitting the story

Mark Hosking


AMMC Member Institution

Maritime Museum of Tasmania

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