Many speedboats ran in different parts of Port Jackson over the years but perhaps the best remembered were those that ran from Manly.
Very little encouragement was needed to buy a ticket from the sellers on the wharf, as a speedboat joyride offered speed and excitement not available elsewhere at the time. Kookaburra II is the only surviving example. She was built in 1956 by the Joyce Brothers, of Neutral Bay, Sydney.
The speedboats ran successfully from the early 1930s to the mid 1960s (sometimes until the early hours of the morning) but eventually competition from television, cars and faster personal boats made them harder to operate at a profit.
Sadly they were burnt, sunk or sold off. Despite attempts to continue economic operations with the remaining boats, they were living on borrowed time.
Following an article which appeared in the Manly Daily about the abandoned Kookaburra II left languishing in a back yard, the Sydney Heritage Fleet moved to preserve her and her owner, Mr Clive Caporn (a yacht builder), donated her to the museum.
Unfortunately she was missing her engine, gearbox and some deck fittings. Fleet volunteers have, after detailed research, procured parts for her while other volunteers worked on restoration of the hull. Kookaburra II was designed to carry 19 passengers plus coxswain in her four cockpits.
She is of Kauri timber carvel construction, roved and clench nailed with a crown deck and tumblehome topsides.