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with Ross & Jason Muir

Article by Caroline Strainig

Slide open the door to the Muir Marine Qld chandlery in Manly on Brisbane’s bayside, and you enter another world. From the outside, the store looks only average in size, but once you start exploring you realise just how big it actually is.

Touring the chandlery with Ross Muir is a fascinating education – a cross between an update on developments in boating products and a history lesson in boat-building.


Row after row of boating supplies follow as we chat. The shelves were stocked with a myriad of items, including hats, sunglasses, gloves, shoes and boots, jackets and paint, sandpaper, anchors, charts, fittings, toilets, life-rings, rope, and one of the largest displays of stainless nuts and bolts I have ever seen. Tucked away around a corner is a good-sized workshop where they can even make standing rigging.

“Just how many products would you have?” I asked.

“Thousands,” Ross answered. “And if we haven’t got something you need, we can usually order it for you, and have it here almost overnight in many cases.”

Can you guess what the chandlery’s biggest sellers are? Yes, hats, sunglasses and gloves – the most common things people forget when going boating.

A display of Rocna anchors catches my eye. “That’s the most popular type of anchor we sell,” Ross says, adding that the Rocna has a sharp fluke and holds well in all types of ground.

As we explore, Ross also tells me about the family history and long-term association with boat-building and sailing. Ross’s father is the famous Tasmanian boat-builder Jock Muir. Among the many boats he built is the 42-footer Westward, which won the Sydney-Hobart race twice and is on display next to the Maritime Museum in Hobart.

Ross completed his boat-building apprenticeship in the family’s Battery Point boatyard and also worked in the associated yacht rigging and spars and sailmaking arms. It was he who established the Muir chandlery Hobart business in 1970 as a one-stopshop to cater for boat owners using the yard. He built dozens of boats during his time in Hobart and was part of a team that built the 46-footer Balandra, the top yacht in Australia’s 1967 Admirals Cup. He was also a keen competitive sailor and won numerous sailing titles.

Ross’s brother, John Muir, is renowned for starting Muir Winches, which exports winches all over the world.

The younger generations are continuing the tradition. Ross’s son, Jason, is a sail-maker by trade and has worked in the Manly chandlery with Ross since 1993. Jason has won state, national and even world titles, including an Etchells world championship in 2009. Today, he is still sailing and coaching juniors, including his own son Sam and daughter Jessica, who are both keen sailors.

Ross established Muir Marine Qld more than 30 years ago in 1988 after he and his wife Judy fell in love with the area and decided to move from Tasmania to Brisbane for a lifestyle change. In the years since then, he has seen Manly Harbour grow from a small harbour into one of the biggest boat harbours on the east coast.

The biggest changes in chandlery terms, apart from seven-day trading, have been the move away from bronze and chromed castings to stainless steel, and the introduction of modern ropes like Spectra and also carbon-fibre products.

Ross still keeps in touch with his boat-building roots, and he and his family visit Hobart regularly to catch up with their extended Muir family and enjoy an outing on the Trevassa, a huon-pine yacht built at Muir’s boatyard in 1971. He also still loves working with timber, and recently built two classic-style timber dinghies.

He turned 75 last April, but says he has no plans for immediate retirement. “I did try to retire, but got called back to help out during Covid,” he explained. Somehow, you get the impression he is secretly glad, and there are few places he would rather be than behind the counter at the chandlery, helping boat owners, as he has done for most of his life.

Want to check Muir Marine out for yourself? You will find Muir Marine Qld at Shop 3, 453 Esplanade, Manly QLD, ph 07 3396 9988

But, a word of warning: allow plenty of time because you may want to browse for hours.





Published in print July-September 2021