Dongara Marine has come a long way from its initial focus on building boats for WA's cray fishing industry.

Since 1975, Dongara Marine has become a mainstay in West Australia’s marine industry. Established by boat designer John Fitzhardinge in its namesake town, the business moved to a newly constructed waterfront shipyard in the port of Geraldton in 2022. Over the years, it has demonstrated exceptional prowess in boat building, maintenance, and marine services, emerging as a leader in the Australian maritime sector.

“Dongara Marine’s success lies in our broad skillset, diverse workforce, and in-house capabilities,” says managing director and part-owner Rohan Warr. “We’re continually developing our workforce and refining our trade skills, providing us greater control over scheduling, costs, performance, and quality.”

With highly experienced management, larger facilities, and an expanded, expert workforce Dongara Marine has the in-house capabilities to undertake virtually every aspect of highly sophisticated vessel construction, repair/modification, and vessel support for commercial, government and recreational clients.

As a result of workload and projected demand, Dongara Marine is also operating from another established aluminium shipbuilding facility. Recent contract wins include two pilot boats for the Port of Fremantle for delivery next year.

With the capability to work on vessels made from Aluminium, fiberglass, composites, and timber, 85% of their work is aluminium. “All our hulls are aluminium. A lot of our work now pairs aluminium hulls with composite wheelhouses,” states Warr.

This focus on aluminium is justified considering the significant advantages this material offers. Warr explains, “Aluminium allows you to customise every boat. It’s lightweight and easy to repair. It provides far better corrosion resistance than steel. If you maintain an aluminium boat well, it can last for 35 years plus.

“We are yet to discover the true lifespan of aluminium – if you maintain it properly, it will just about last forever.”

Dongara Marine sources Capral aluminium for its projects. Since 2012, the company has enjoyed a productive relationship with Capral, acknowledging its capacity, product quality, and competitive pricing. “We use a lot of aluminium – an average boat would use about 15 tonnes of plate; a pilot boat would use 30 or more. Capral aluminium not only meets our demand but enhances our work process, effectively providing us with a ‘big Meccano set’ that makes assembly easier,” Warr elaborates.

Capral provides precision-routed plate products with intricate pen markings to streamline Dongara’s production process. These pre-cut and marked components are supplied to Dongara when needed ensuring the “kit” is ready to be assembled, minimising waste, and production times and reducing the risk of errors for the Dongara team.

As for the new shipyard in Geraldton, it’s a significant upgrade. Developed on an approximately 9900m² site within the Fishing Boat Harbour precinct, the shipyard allows the firm to undertake multiple vessel construction and significant repairs simultaneously. This development has doubled Dongara’s capacity, enabling the team to work on 14 boats simultaneously.

“Having a purpose-built facility on the waterfront is logistically a huge advantage,” explains Warr. “We can bring a boat lifter into the sheds to move boats between the blasting bay or transfer from one shed to another for painting.”

With earlier careers as a shipwright and a cray boat skipper, Warr’s love for Dongara’s craft is evident. “We start with a flat pack of materials, which goes out the door as a finished product. There’s always a new set of challenges, a new set of problems to solve. And when you’re out on the water or driving and see one of our boats, it makes you pretty proud.”

Dongara Marine has come a long way from its initial focus on building boats for WA’s cray fishing industry. With a dedicated workforce that thrives on challenges, an increasing capacity to deliver quality work, and a commitment to customer satisfaction, the company is not just building boats—it’s creating a lasting legacy in the marine industry. Its partnership with Capral aluminium only strengthens its ability to deliver superior, customised vessels that will stand the test of time.’

“We’re not just building boats; we’re striving for continuous improvement across the business,” Warr concludes. “With Capral’s aluminium and our highly skilled team, every boat we build is better than the last one.”