Quintrex was one of the great Aussie brands to emerge post-WW2. Founder Terry Quantrill started out on the Georges River outfall to Botany Bay at Taren Point. Trading as Quintrex Australia Products Pty Ltd in many forms of engineering, by 1964 boat building was almost the sole occupation. Growth was phenomenal, with recreational and commercial boating needs being filled with these tough little nuggets. The early models ranged from 8ft to 10, 12, 14 and 16ft and production quoted at an outstanding 46 boats per week during the last few months of 1966.
Commercial special projects included Little Investigator, a diesel-powered 18ft displacement boat produced for a trip from Darwin to Sydney for the heroes of early television, The Leyland Brothers.
In August 1967 Quintrex introduced the revolutionary compound curves of the unique flared bow to the range with its 4.3-metre (14ft) Quintrex Fishabout, promoting it to the undeniable role of industry leader. Many will argue that the Quintrex Fishabout, a designation used to this day, was the all-time hero of the Quintrex boat range but for me the five-metre (16ft) Quintrex Fishmaster Cuddy and its sistership, the Quintrex Cruiseabout Runabout were the pinnacles.
Versatile fishing boat
The Quintrex Fishmaster and Cruiseabout are terrifically versatile. They have excellent offshore credentials for a pressed alloy hull and rated highly in the early gamefishing competition scene when the average trailer boat was around 16 feet long. These hulls withstood the rigours of long off-road expeditions thanks to relatively low weight (around 400kg hull) but immense strength. The same hulls can be slid down banks into northern billabongs and rocky accesses or launched into shallow water, making them ideal for inland lakes and beach launches.
I had my own Fishmaster Quintrex tinne for around 10 years of serious competition fishing. It was a regular traveller up and down the east coast, fished the continental shelf off Bermagui many times, competed in inland competitions at the likes of Lake Toolondo where we more or less launched from sheep paddocks. Back home its almost daily task was the spine-splintering slop of Port Phillip and Western Port.
The upright fibreglass cabin of the Quintrex Fishmaster was ideal for all conditions. It gave added security at the bow should you take a big one over the top – and we did! However, it also allowed some short under-bunk storage and undercover sitting room. Perhaps more importantly the cuddy provided a raised seating position that makes life so much more comfortable than the continual ups and downs of the Cruiseabout Runabout. The raised cabin allowed excellent visibility and a strong structure to mount walk-under canopies and biminis rather than the duck down antics in a low runabout.
Both models came with a large alloy centre-mounted holding tank/storage with padded lid for added seating and about a 40-litre underfloor fuel tank. There was foam filling under the floor, a good amount of side-pocket storage, glovebox and one side of the transom was shaped to accept a small auxiliary engine.
What's the best outboard power?
I’ve seen these Quintrex tinnies powered with as little as 40hp outboard motors but most Fishmaster / Cruiseabout boats were fitted with the great 60-75hp engines of the era, with the 70hp Johnson/Evinrude or 75hp Mercury the most popular. Mine was a 1983 model with one of the first Yamaha 75hp outboards in the country (dark blue with red and white stripes). The power to weight gave more than adequate power for three fishermen and all their gear; the only time I found it lacking was when we filled the boat to the gunwales with two other divers and a load of scallops. It took days and many beers to shell them!
The hulls will take some weight on the transom, being originally rated to 90hp. Late-model direct-injected two and four-stroke outboards would be ideal up to 90hp though 60-75hp will be good for most.
What to look for
The early Quintrex boats are getting old but it’s often said that the quality of the alloy back then was superior to today. Take a good look around the hull, particularly underneath on welds and seams. While some brands suffered with electrolysis (rust-like alloy corrosion) these models were generally pretty good. Don’t forget that fitting boats with non-compliant metals, using bad electrical wiring, acidic cure silicons, the lack of appropriate thread sealants and even the wrong foam filling can all cause electrolysis in alloy. Electrolysis starts like small pimples in the paintwork and erupts to full-blown acne if left untreated.
Many second-hand Quintrex boats have had a tough life and old trailers often didn’t have appropriate support. All pressed-alloy boats need keel support so most fully-rollered cradle-type trailers are inappropriate. Bumps and bangs often have little effect but beware of hulls with numerous welds!
The underfloor alloy fuel tanks are old and will need inspection. Thankfully, the two-piece timber floor comes up relatively easily for a full inspection of what lies beneath. While I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it on a Fishmaster/Cruiseabout, aluminium often suffers fatigue so a close inspection of all welds inside and out is warranted.
If the boat still has the original windscreen then the tinted Perspex will undoubtedly need replacing, if it hasn’t already been done. The front cabin hatch was also Perspex and often becomes brittle. I replaced mine with a moulded fibreglass version that I made myself. The paintwork will probably be suffering but these great hulls are totally worthy of a full restoration and paint.
Quintrex boats today
Nowadays, new Quintrex boats are manufactured by industry giant Telwater at its 10-acre site in the Gold Coast Marine Precinct. However the company had a number of owners, including Alcan Australia Ltd in 1976 when the company had outgrown the Taren Point facility and moved to Kirrawee. There was also a buy-out in 1988 with Bruce Shepherd from Mackay, Qld, and managing director Paul Felan heading up the manufacturing. A couple of longstanding dealerships have forged great success over many years, including John Stav’s JV Marine in Melbourne and Peter Hunt’s, Hunt’s Marine in Sydney.
Telwater now owns and produces other strong Australian brands such as Savage, Yellowfin and Stacer and has recently taken over distribution of Evinrude outboard motors.
Quintrex has never been content to rest on its laurels and further development led to the introduction of the successful Millennium hull (variable deadrise undersides) in 2000 and, more recently, the refined Quintrex Blade hull in 2013. Both retain the prominent flared bow, though there was a short period where it was deleted from some models.
The Trade-a-Boat verdict
For many years Aussies never really referred to their aluminium boats as tinnies – they were mostly called Quinnies, which speaks volumes for the Quintrex boats presence in the Australian boating market for the past 70 years. In my mind, the early Fishmaster and Cruisemaster offerings succeeded like no other as exceptionally versatile watersports machines.
‘Iconic’ is used too liberally nowadays but it’s hard to describe Quintrex aluminium boats as anything other than iconic Australian boats. I believe the 1970s and 80s Quintrex Fishmasters and Cruisemasters are the pick of the bunch. Seventy years of Quintrex aluminium boats says it all!
Quintrex Cruiseabout / Fishmaster specs
Used Quintrex prices
Price then: $16,000 approx in 1980 for a Quintrex boat package (70hp outboard, single-axle trailer).
Price now: $3,500 for a retrievable wreck with unserviceable engine; $20,000 for a restored unit with late-model low-hour outboard motor.
TYPE Monohull cruiser
WEIGHT BMT approx. 900kg dry