By TOM FITZGERALD
Adelaide’s only historic tall ship, the Falie, continues to rest forgotten in Port Adelaide, 93 years after it was built.
Despite the rich history of 46 metre ketch, the Falie has drifted out of the minds of South Australians.
She now lies permanently berthed west of the Birkenhead Bridge, while the government provides just enough money to keep her alive.
“At the moment [the State Government] is spending up to 50,000 a year just to keep her afloat,” says Keith Ridgeway, the lead volunteer in charge of restoring the Falie.
“They’ve committed to at least the next 10 years of keeping the ship afloat, and we’re slowly getting on top of everything,” he says.
Unfortunately, without increased financing it is unlikely the Falie will sail ever again.
In fact, because of the Falie’s unseaworthiness, she is no longer classed as a vessel but rather a floating barge.
Mr Ridgeway hopes to have the Falie resurveyed if she is made seaworthy again, but believes doing so would cost upwards of 1.5 million dollars.
“The government needs some rhyme or reason for investing in the ship, but there isn’t enough interest,” says Ridgeway
“This is the flagship of the state.”
“We’re restoring the history of Port Adelaide, but that’s not good enough.”
Ridgeway says he has appealed to the government for more money and resources, but has had no success.
The continued survival of the Falie now rests in the hands of Ridgeway and his unpaid associates, who refuse to allow the ship to be abandoned.
But Ridgeway believes he has found an ally in the new State Member for Port Adelaide, Susan Close.
Mrs Close says the Port has lost a lot of its maritime wonder, and the Falie is a key part in revitalising the area.
“The government is getting together a plan for the future of [Port Adelaide] that it’s going to work through with the community,” she said.
“One of the strands to that future plan has to be maritime, and Keith’s absolutely right, we have a fantastic asset in terms of the Falie.
“I would love to see the Falie be a big part of the maritime strand in the port.”
Close’s plan for the Port also includes the return of the One and All, and the historic clipper, City of Adelaide.
“My desire is that anything that happens in the Port celebrates the port for what it is, and one of these things is recognising our wonderful maritime past, present and future,” she said.
She insisted the Falie had not been forgotten, and that when the ship turns 100 in seven years time, the city will give her a grand birthday.
In the meantime, Ridgeway hopes to have the Falie sailing within 5 years.
“Just imagine if this could sail up and down the river, again, going out to the gulf for evening trips,” Ridgeway says.
“It would be in the best interests of the people of South Australia, and allow them to have a look at what they own.”