Experience Our Working Harbour Onboard William the Fourth

Enjoy the sights and sounds of a beautiful working harbour, aboard an authentic replica of one of the first Australian-built cargo ships that worked the harbour in the early days.

This Is How Experiences Are Made

Nowhere else can you feel you are going back in time. The unique character of William the Fourth inspires all forms of emotion. Enjoy the serenity or soak up the grand vistas of the Newcastle city panorama from the harbour. You know this is not like any other voyage as you sense what life was like for our pioneer forefathers. We know you will never forget it and we will see you again.

A Brief History Of William The Fourth

William the Fourth is an accurate operational replica of Australia’s first steam powered ocean-going paddlewheel ship.

When convict settlement was established at Newcastle from 1801, ships were the only form of transport. Within 30 years the settlement of fertile lands along the Hunter River and a growing coal trade – Australia’s first significant export industry, enabled the era of steam ships. In 1831 – when the Australian Agricultural Company began to have a profound impact on Newcastle, a shipyard was established at Clarencetown, taking advantage of the excellent timbers, to construct Australia’s first steam-powered ocean-going ship – William the Fourth, to operate between Sydney and the growing settlement inland from the ‘Green Hills’ now known as Morpeth.

There were almost no roads, and the graveyard of shipwrecks at the harbour entrance is testimony to the many hazards our local pioneers faced. The ship was a general carrier, transporting produce to the markets in Sydney and every product the settlers needed to live in the valley. It’s hard for us to imagine the hardships they faced, but their enterprise and determination developed the characteristics that are still in our blood today. By its very unique nature William the Fourth still serves as a faithful testimony to that tough pioneering and maritime heritage.

9 18
On The Slip 1990.jpg

The replica William the Fourth was constructed as a community 1988 Bi-Centenary Project at Raymond Terrace, at a cost of $1.5 million and was launched on 26 September 1987 by Mrs Hazel Hawke. During construction hundreds of people purchased engraved copper nails – still in the ship’s hull, and since then thousands more have enjoyed the experience of the ship whilst learning of our maritime heritage. The replica operated commercial cruises on Newcastle Harbour and the Hunter River for 14 years until a boiler leak put it out of service in 2001. It was earmarked to be dismantled.

In 2008 a community-based organisation, William the Fourth Inc. was formed to take ownership from Newcastle City Council and complete a total restoration of the ship and return it to service. Difficulty in raising funds delayed the restoration for 10 years but with generous public and corporate support, work valued at over $650,000 was completed without incurring debt. As part of the full refurbishment a powerful diesel engine with propeller, as well as bow thruster were installed to maximise availability and overcome the issues presented by steam and paddlewheel propulsion (whilst retaining and simulating the steam experience).

William the Fourth provides the ideal platform to showcase the beauty of the city from the harbour.

It is available as a floating display, a unique venue for on-board refreshments and functions, and also has an operating licence to undertake corporate and tourist charters in sheltered waters. Charters are based on an hourly rate, for any number of passengers up to 54. Operations are available at any time, subject to availability of volunteer crew.

9 15

What We Do

Available For Charter

Business or private functions. The perfect venue for any organisation to give your clients or guests an experience to remember. We have a range of options available. Call or email for details.

The ship on the harbour is the perfect special venue to celebrate your special event. Weddings, parties, anything. Invite your family and friends and make your own special event.

HIstory Cruises

Usually on the third Sunday of a month – a 3-hour themed cruise of the harbour explores all aspects of our region’s history and culture.

Check the cruise schedule for new events continually being added. Departing at 10.30am.

Morning and Afternoon Tea cruises

Usually on the first and third Sundays of each month - a 90-minute harbour cruise including morning tea departs at 10.30am.

Check the cruise schedule for new events continually being added.

Generally on the first and third Sunday of every month you can enjoy our Sunday Morning and Afternoon Tea Harbour Cruises or a Special themed Cruise.
W4 Jan24 Schedule


The perfect gift for family or friends, or if you can’t choose a cruise date. 


Purchase a certificate to the value of one of our cruises. Customised vouchers available on request.

Only $30  For use on all of our harbour cruises.

Only $60 For morning or afternoon tea for 2 adults.

Only $85 For a family of 4 (Children up to 12 yrs)


To redeem a voucher, select your cruise and tickets. Enter the voucher code at CHECKOUT.

 Get more ideas on what to do on the  
Newcastle Travel Guide

To see our complete current timetable
and book – CLICK HERE

Or keep up to date with the latest news, views, cruises and charters, join us on Facebook.

As Seen On TV:

TV series 'The Great Outdoors' in 1990, showing the replica under full steam.

A quick glimpse of the ship at work on Newcastle Harbour 2019.

William The Fourth begins harbour cruises again

What you can expect on one of our harbour cruises

Some Recent Comments From Delighted Passengers and TripAdvisor Members


One word for our High Octane Afternoon High Tea cruise: FABULOUS

From start to finish: Fabulous
Crew: Fabulous
Food: Fabulous
Everything: Fabulous

Tku for an unforgettable afternoon. Todays adventure will stay with us always.
Regards Barry & Anne Foley

Barry and Anne Foley

Happy Passengers

William the Fourth is a beautifully re-created historic paddle steamer that is moored in the Honeysuckle Precinct of Newcastle Harbour with plenty of nearby parking. Whilst on board we explored the harbour opening and the various channels and watched cargo ships, tugs and sailing boats pass by.

Strongly recommend to everyone who wishes to have a better understanding of the City of Newcastle.

Margaret A.

Newcastle, NSW

An excellent way to see the sights of Newcastle Harbour aboard this fully restored historically significant paddle wheel steamer, I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone visiting Newcastle.

Christopher B.

Newcastle, NSW

Fantastic journey on this historic ship. Whilst the cruise is only approx one and a half hours long, the experience is long lasting. An excellent way of seeing the working port close up


Cessnock, NSW

Fabulous cruise on Newcastle harbour and surrounding channels. Wonderful perspective of Newcastle from the water. Crew are great. All ages had a terrific time. A must do experience!


Newcastle, NSW

What a terrific day on board a beautiful ship. The harbour experience was fabulous on board this wonderful vessel. Crew were obliging and extremely knowledgeable. We would have return visit any time.

Tracey H.

What a fantastic experience. A wonderful enthusiastic crew, and and huge part of Australian history. Step back in time and understand the old steamers and ships. Truly wonderful day 👌🏽

Fiona H.

Muswellbrook, NSW
Happypassengerenjoyingmothersdayrevisited 50

The whole crew were very committed to making sure we had a lovely day as well as keeping us informed of the history of Newcastle as we sailed past each site of interest.

The day turned out to be sunny and the ocean was like a millpond. The crew were very happy and friendly, nothing was too much trouble. They made sure all the Covid rules were abided by.

The High tea was to die for. We had fresh home-made baking at it’s finest. I have had High Tea at Harrods and this was on par. There was even a small card to let everyone know the selections from quiche, scones, Rose cupcake, Lemon Meringue Tart to name but a few.

I would highly recommend that we support this Newcastle venture and bring your friends for a beautiful day out to celebrate a special occasion.

Narelle C.

Newcastle, NSW

Hours of care and work that goes on behind the scenes obviously pays off. Couldn’t be more proud of the team, my second cruise and still cannot fault a thing xxx

Paula C.

Newcastle, NSW

Was a lovely day, weather perfect, crew very informative. Food, packaging and flavours magnificent. Would recommend it to all.

Julie D.

We are a group of five ladies who had a wonderful day on our cruise last Sunday.

Everyone involved was so helpful and went over and above what was required to make the day pretty special.

The kindness to one of our ladies who is suffering from Alzheimer’s was amazing, we are so grateful for this kindness from all the crew on Sunday’s cruise, Thank you.

Christine T.

We can make your next business outing an unforgettable experience!

Sign Up For Our Monthly Newsletter And Keep Up To Date With Our Latest Cruises