The current Sydney Heritage Fleet restoration project is the 1927 John Oxley. Built in Paisley, Scotland, in riveted steel with teak decks, she is a typical coastal steamship of the type that services the Australian seaboard. She is one of a handful of surviving examples today and is destined to become the only operational coastal steamer in the world.
Her restoration progress is a tribute to the ingenuity, resourcefulness and remarkable engineering aptitude of the volunteers. The work is supported by the Sydney Heritage Fleet and funded by industry sponsorship and donations, without which this heritage treasure would be but a heap of rust.
John Oxley was built to the order of the Queensland Harbours and Rivers Board. She steamed out under her own power for service as pilot vessel in Moreton Bay and as a buoy tender and lighthouse tender along the Queensland coast.
The ship is a typical coastal steamship of its time; many similar ships plied the Australian coast to carry passengers and goods. She has a raised forecastle, well deck, steam machinery and navigation amidships and accommodation aft. She is powered by two boilers and a triple expansion steam engine. Originally fuelled by coal, but was converted to burn oil in 1946.
She continued in service until 1968 and was officially donated to Sydney Heritage Fleet in 1970. After the James Craig vacated the Heritage Dock in 1999, she was taken out of the water and placed on the dock. It was not till about 2002 that the resources became available to start the restoration work.