Having now served on the show for over 20 years, the Blaxland is almost as much a part of the Summer Bay landscape as the surf club or beach.
The Blaxland first appeared on-screen in May 1997, when Travis Nash and Lachie Fraser purchased her off local fisherman Snapper McCracken. The boat later came into the possession of Donald Fisher following Travis and Rebecca’s departure in 1999, and he eventually sold it to Alf Stewart in May 2001.
The vessel has provided employment for a number of characters over the years, including the likes of Tom Nash, Dani Sutherland, Will Smith, Scott Hunter, Kane Phillips and Romeo Smith. Whilst plenty a leisurely fishing trip has been had, not all of the Blaxland’s charter customers have been above board, with no less than two drug smuggling attempts, and an American man murdering his wife in the guise of a diving accident.
In July 2007, the survival of the Blaxland (as well as Alf, Ric Dalby, Brad Armstrong and Dan Baker) came under threat when she was caught up in a storm. A rescue chopper sent out to assess the situation reported that the boat had been partially capsized and swept onto a sandbank. Whilst the gentlemen were saved when the weather died down, the fate of the Blaxland remained a little vague… until she reappeared on-screen some time later without a scratch on her.
In 2013, Alf sought to sell the Blaxland in order to help towards the cost of buying Summer Bay House from Sally, who was raising funds towards medical treatment for her daughter Pippa. The boat was bought by Harvey Ryan’s old friend Winston Markman, who kindly left her in Alf’s capable hands.
The Blaxland has not been seen quite as often in recent years, though with Alf being stranded on the boat with medical emergencies twice in the space of 18 months—requiring Chris Harrington and Justin Morgan to get him back to shore respectively—he may be starting to wonder whether the boat is jinxed!
For the first 18 months or so on-screen after Travis and Lachie acquired her, the Blaxland was portrayed by a slightly smaller boat.
The boat we all know and love—in reality a 36ft Halvorsen Standard Cruiser named Kangaroo—made her debut some time between October 1998 and March 1999.
Halvorsen Boats traces its roots to 1887 when Halvor Andersen, a farmer, launched his first wooden craft near Arendal in the south of Norway. His son Lars followed in his father’s footsteps and became a boat builder.
Lars and his family, including sons Harold and Carl, settled in Sydney in 1925. From 1925 through to 1980 the family enterprise built over 1,500 craft making the Halvorsen name an Australian byword for quality and style.
After World War II the company acquired a lease at Bobbin Head located north of Sydney in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. The family built a fleet of approximately 200 hire boats. This made the Halvorsen boat hire operation the world’s largest privately owned fleet of its time.
The quality and integrity of the Halvorsen workmanship never varied. The standard of finish and fittings was unsurpassed; glistening teak, maple and mahogany panelling, French-polished interiors, custom made metalwork were all a cut above the rest.
Kangaroo was launched in November 1958 into the Halvorsen Boat Hire Fleet at Bobbin Head. These elegant 36’ cruisers, first launched in July 1948, were the amalgamation of many previous design concepts and were the second in the range of standard cruisers offered by Halvorsen.
Kangaroo was sold off the Halvorsen fleet into private ownership in 1993, and since that time she has undergone major restoration and refit, including upgrading to current NSW maritime survey requirements.
Little is known of her custodians from 1993 to 1996, but for 19 years from 1996 to 2015 she was a much-loved and integral member of the Burling family in the Pittwater area. She was put to mostly private use but kept in maritime survey for occasional boat hire, and of course the odd bit of television work.
As well as her star status on Home and Away, Kangaroo has also appeared in various other television shows and commercials, including an ad for Bundaberg Rum in 2004. In earlier times, she was even helmed by ABBA in the music video for their 1976 single Tropical Loveland.
In 2015, current owners Michele and Mark Jobbins took on the custodianship of Kangaroo, which is still offered for hire from its base on Pittwater in the Northern Beaches suburb of Newport.
Offering nine berths with room to entertain twelve—and with all the mod cons for leisurely cruising around the Pittwater, Broken Bay, Hawkesbury and Cowan waterways—it is believed that Kangaroo is the only remaining Halvorsen available for charter in NSW.
For more information, and for charter hire, check out the Kangaroo website.
With thanks to owner Michele Jobbins for the Kangaroo pictures and history.
Blaxland Wharf (2004-present)