Whittley History

Whittley Tradition

Whittley Marine Group is one of Australia’s most admired boat manufacturers. Since 1953 it has become a benchmark for quality cruising, fishing, ski and pleasure boats.

It’s factories in Australia and China and distribution facility in the USA are supported by ulitra-modern research and development facilities at its Australian headquarters, as it has won virtually every major award in the Australian marine industry.

The Whittley Tradition began in 1953, when brothers Jim and Ossie Whittley built a timber boat for a mate. The boat made such an impression that people were soon lining up for a hand built timber cruiser from the Whittley Brothers.

Jim and Ossie set up shop in the outer Melbourne suburb of Bulleen, and their business grew. Their boats grew too, some of them so large that the front of the factory had to be pulled off to get the finished boat out. No matter what size the boats, their defining virtue was superb quality.

After a few years Ossie left to build yachts instead, while Jim and his wife Aileen continued to build their increasingly popular small timber family cruisers, and became pioneers of fiberglass boats in Australia. Soon they moved to nearby Briar Hill, then to a much larger factory in Thomastown.

With the move to Thomastown, Jim and Aileen sold the business to their son’s, Neville and Steven. This was followed by a period of strong growth in Europe and the USA as well as the domestic market. In 2009 Whittley moved into it’s new headquarters at Somerton and commissioned a new factory in China.

In 2001 Whittley mourned the passing of Jim Whittley, but his legacy lives on in the thousands of boats which embody his lifelong commitment to quality.

What began in a home workshop in 1953, has become an internationally admired manufacturer, and Whittley has become a byword for quality.

Whittley Evolution

Half a century of boat building has brought many changes to Whittley - new material’s, ever growing facilities, new technologies, even factories in China. Whittley Marine Group has succeeded in balancing traditional core values with constant change, improvement and evolution, plus a full range of fibreglass RIB and inflatable boats.

The adoption of fibreglass in the late 1960’s changed Whittley forever, and produced two landmark models. The Whittley Voyager was a true live-aboard family cruise, and the Puma (later to become the Cherokee) was a rakish, high sided run about. Together, they really put Whittley on the map.

More recently, Whittley has introduced the latest computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD-CAM) systems. Each new model proved the wonders that can be achieved by talent, experience designers equipped with the same computer system used by global car companies.

While new technology enables the company to improve on even its own legendary product quality, traditional craftsmanship is still at the heart of Whittley. The factory includes specialised timber and glazing departments, plus trim and canopy shops, which apply a unique combination of tradition skills and high tech equipment.

With world class manufacturing distribution facilities in Australia, China and the USA, the company is introducing the Whittley way to new and expanding markets. In addition to its Cruiser and Sea Legend ranges. It addition to its Cruiser and Sea Legend ranges, it has now firmly established the Clearwater FG range of affordable fiberglass boats, it has introduced the Whittley Inflatable Boats range of versatile inflatables, and it has entered the ski and wake boat market with a trend setting new range of Spy Boats.

The one constant in all these boats is legendary Whittley quality - that’s what links today’s smart, high tech Whittley’s with the very first boats the company built.

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Trailerboat Magazine: Video Interview with Neville Whittley

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Trailerboat Magazine: Video Interview with Steve Whittley

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