Ceres

Clarence

Cornubia  - Captain Stericker 1846

Eagle

Experiment

Huntress

James Watt - Captain Taggart 1845

Karuah (1831)

Maitland - Captain Parsons (1844,1847

Phoenix - Captain Wiseman 1848

Rose

Shamrock - Captain Gilmore

Sophia Jane - Captain Livingstone, Captain Biddulph,(1833)  Captain (?George) Mulhall (1835) Captain Freeman (1840)

Sovereign  Captain Cape 1843 - 1847

Surprise (First steamboat built in the colony)

Tamar - Captain Allen (1846 -1848), Captain Ellis (1835)     (1843), Captain Mulhall (1844) (1848)

Thistle - Captain Pattison

Victoria  - Captain Taggart 1842

 

 

 

William The Fourth - Captain Taggart (1831), Captain Wiseman (1846)      Paterson Packet (1848)

 

From Sydney to Morpeth 1840's

Accident at Morpeth Wharf 1852

Pioneer Steamships Moreton Bay

 

 


 

THE SOPHIA JANE

The Sophia Jane was the first working steamer to be seen in Sydney Harbour. She arrived from England in May 1831 after being built by Barnes and Millar in 1826. She was 153 tons and had one engine of 50 horse power.

While the Sophia Jane was having her paddles fitted in readiness for her maiden voyage another steamer made its first voyage - the 'Surprise' set off for Parramatta amid a volley of smoke and steam on 1st June, thereby becoming the first steam powered vessel in Australia. When the 'Sophia Jane' was launched later in June 1831 the 'Australian' reported:

Steam navigation will help greatly to raise the character of this Colony abroad, and to improve it at home. The addition of such a vessel as the Sophia Jane to our coasting trade is a most gratifying event. It is almost in the trading world what a new governor would be in our political hemisphere. A fresh spirit will be infused into all our settled and unsettled district that can be approached by water. Persons will shortly be able, we expect, to breakfast in town, lunch at Newcastle, dine at Port Stephens, and put up comfortably at Port Macquarie next  morning, at half the present expense and in quarter the time, for the journey to Wallis's Plains. Should she not find enough to do between this and Newcastle the route to and from Hobart Town lies open, and the Western Port, when the fine line of coast about there shall be settled.'

The Sophia Jane was said to be of very beautiful build and a good sea boat. She was commanded by Lieutenant Edward Biddulph R.N. who was also part owner. The whole of her deck was 126 feet; her breadth 20 feet and could travel eight miles an hour in smooth water. She was originally constructed for the almost exclusive accommodation of passengers and her principal employment had been in conveying passengers between England and France. No expense had been spared in fitting her out and the apartments were said to be of the finest description. There were three separate cabins (one for gentlemen, one for ladies and one for steerage). Sixteen beds could be made up in the gentlemen's room, 11 in the ladies and 20 in steerage. In an emergency extra beds could be prepared making a total accommodation of 54. Her value was estimated to be 7,500 and she arrived from England with an experienced engineer and a duplicate set of all the necessary apparatus. She was considered very fast and could make the 60 miles between Newcastle and Sydney in under 8 hours. 

The Sydney Gazette reported the following article in 1831 - 'Yesterday was a proud day for Australia, a day that ought to be placed high in the calendar of her improvements - a day to which her sons and daughters if alive to the true interest of this country, will in future years look back with admiration. The first efficient exhibition of steam navigation in this fifth quarter of the world was beheld by the select few who had adventured on board the Sophia Jane on Friday the 11th day of June. The Sophia Jane put forth all her powers. She showed what the ingenuity of man had been able to contrive - to dispense with oars and canvas and to urge rapidly onward, in defiance of winds and weather, a vessel of large dimensions and heavy burthen. Early in the morning the Captain gave breakfast on board to his Excellency  Governor Darling and a distinguished party of ladies and gentlemen. The vessel performed a gentle trip round Dawes Point, Darling Harbour and Goat Island and in so fine a style that His Excellency and all the fashionable guests were pleased to express the highest encomiums on the scientific construction of the vessel, and on the admirable skill with which she was managed. Soon after 11 o'clock, a signal gun having been previously fired, the Sophia Jane loosed her moorings in Sydney Cove, and began her adventurous journey. The manner in which she threaded her way through the shipping, without any assistance whatever, filled everyone with admiration. She crept in and out with the utmost exactness, and when fairly free from the cove her energies were allowed unlimited play and away she went as on the wings of the wind. Her velocity was astounding. She actually flew through the water. Before the passengers well knew they had started, they found themselves abreast of Pinchgut Island; and ere they had digested this astonishment, they looked up and lo! they were in the very mouth of the Heads! Here a gun was fired, and Mr. Watson, the pilot came on board. At 2 o'clock the company was summoned to the mess room where they found a sumptuous cold collation, served up under the direction of Mr. Bax, of the Australian Hotel. Every luxury that could be devised was spread upon the hospitable table, garnished with the choicest champagne and other wines, ale porter Etc. The passengers had already seated themselves at table when they were conscious of a very peculiar motion, the vessel rolling in the most regular and agreeable manner; but supposing it to be only imaginary on their sitting down, for the first time, in the cabin, no particular notice was taken of it; but when the meal was finished, and they returned on deck, what was their astonishment to find themselves actually at sea - aye, rolling upon the wide ocean, the boundless expanse before them and the Sydney Heads far behind. The day was the most favourable that could be desired. Not a cloud obscured the sky; the sun shone in all its chastened splendour and a gentle breeze from the westward seemed to refresh and invigorate the joyous passengers. Part of the band of the 39th regiment added to the other delightful pleasure of the excursion the charms of martial music.

On her first voyage to Newcastle the Sophia Jane left Sydney at 7.13 a.m. and arrived at the King's Wharf at 3.13 p.m. having been detained a little by towing another ship to sea. She took another 3 1/2 hours to make the run up the river to the Green Hills and was exactly three hours coming down the river the following day.

Read about a journey to the Hunter River by steamer in November 1831 here

She was engaged to convey female convicts from Sydney to Newcastle in 1833. Twenty female prisoners who had arrived on the Caroline in August 1833 were embarked on the Sophia Jane destined for private service in the Hunter Region.

In 1842 The Sophia Jane was plying regularly between Sydney and Wollongong however in 1846 her engines were transferred to the newly built Phoenix and the old Sophia Jane was broken up. The Phoenix was wrecked on the North Head of the Clarence River in 1850.


KARUAH

On 30th November 1831 at Carrington the Australian Agricultural Company steamer 'Karuah' was also launched, although she was not looked on with such favour as the 'Sophia Jane' or the 'William the Fourth', she was nevertheless an important addition to the Company's communications capability. Sir Edward Parry recorded in his diary - 'Our little steamer got under way today for the first time and paddled about the harbour. I cannot yet say much for her success, but everything is stiff and new and we hope to be able to improve her. I do not think she went above three knots. ' On the following day she was found to have been greatly improved by an alteration in her paddle boards and by working the engine more, taking her speed up to 4 knots.

Some of the excitement felt at the coming of the paddle steamers can be understood from the following letter to the Sydney Gazette later in 1831 on the imminent launching of colonial built William IV

'I, with pleasure take up my pen, to describe the gratifying sight I have this day enjoyed. Many of your readers, I am inclined to think, only know the Williams River as a part of the Hunter, while it is in fact a separate River, emptying itself into the Coal River; and has from its mouth to Clarence Town (a distance of about 68 miles), a depth of from four to five fathoms, of water, without a single rock or bank to impede its navigation. On the right bank of this noble river, now well named after our most gracious Sovereign, and adjoining to Clarence Town, the township of the Parish of Uffington in the County of Durham, Messrs, Marshall And Lowe, shipwrights have in their yard on the stocks a steam vessel nearly finished to be called the William the Fourth.

This colony can now boast of being able to build her own steamers, and these with her own indigenous timber, the flooded gum, which Messrs Marshall and Lowe, declare is equal to any in the world for ship building, and particularly for tree nails. Whenever this beautiful vessel may be launched into her proper element; which it is calculated will be in about a month, it will be seen that vessels now of 600 tons can be built or completely repaired in the William River quicker and cheaper than can be done in Sydney Cove, a circumstance of the utmost importance to our whale fishery speculators who I have not the least doubt will, when they see the masterly work of the 'William the Fourth' not fail to vie ample employment to Messrs Marshall and Lowe'.

Some of the enthusiasm had begun to wear thin by 1834 when the following letter appeared in the Sydney Herald:

'GENTLEMEN - Very great dissatisfaction has arisen in the public mind here, in consequence of the alterations which have taken place in the management of the steam vessels which ply to and from Hunter's River, since they changed owners; and notwithstanding the strong protestations about "sparing no exertion and expense for the accommodation of the Public" etc, which appeared some time ago in the newspapers, when the idea of monopoly was so amusingly disclaimed, the arrangements - which were formerly poor enough - are now so unequivocally bad that many people are talking of taking the road in preference. On one occasion, when bed time arrived no clean sheets were to be had! true, the detention at sea all night was not anticipated, but such cases should be provided for; on another occasion, some passengers when they asked for a towel were coolly presented with the tail of a shirt! Besides, the fare is very bad , and refreshments are charged for at an exorbitant rate. Can the owners suppose that in addition to this the Public are to be tormented and imposed upon by vexatious charges upon their luggage and small parcels - and that the dismissal of so deserving a favourite as Captain Taggart, for not submitting to a reduction of pay will be over looked ? They must bear in mind that a new vessel is on the stocks, and that public patronage when once lost is not easily regained, - that they must eventually be the losers by a niggardly system - and that, whatever their own opinion may be, we, in this part of the world, cannot but look upon it as the result of mismanagement'. - Hunter's River 10th January 1834

The Hunter River Packet Association was formed in 1834 to provide opposition for the Sophia Jane and the William the Fourth in trading between Sydney and the Hunter. A meeting had been held in April 1833 when it was decided to build a 200 ton steamer in New South Wales to be fitted with two 40 horse power engines each. Mr. Lowe of Clarence Town tendered to build the ship and when the machinery had arrived in 1836 it was fitted in the newly built 'Ceres'. When the Ceres was wrecked six months later the company was wound up.

The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company was formed in 1840. A meeting had been called by John Eales and when the company was approved it was decided to have built in England, three iron steamers. These were to be the Rose and Thistle - both built by Fairbairn and Co., on the Thames and the Shamrock built for Paterson of Bristol.

These additional steamers in Australia caused much competition in the Hunter River Trade with other vessels particularly the Victoria steamer.

In 1842 the General Steam Navigation Company offered for sale by auction the whole of their property consisting of their steam boats 'Victoria', 'Tamar', 'Sophia Jane' and 'Maitland'; the coal barge 'Jolly Rambler' and the Hulk 'Alexander' together with the unexpired lease on the company's wharf at Sydney and Stores at Morpeth.

The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company became the Australasian Steam Navigation Company in 1851 and held a monopoly of the Hunter River business as well as extending their services up and down the coast.

The wharves must have been bustling confusing places when the steamers came in. Adding to the confusion were the stage coach owners, vying for the trade of disembarking passengers. In 1842 James Stilsby appeared in court on a charge of assaulting Miss Emma Brown who had been a passenger on the steamer Shamrock from Sydney to Morpeth. It was Stilsby's practice to seize the luggage of passengers to force them to use his coach. He had on this occasion 'endeavoured by force and rudeness to compel her to go as a passenger in his coach after she had engaged a seat in a rival vehicle'. Stilsby was fined 40/- for the assault and the Judge in sentencing remarked that it was time to put a stop to the rudeness and ridiculous pretensions of Stilsby who scarcely allowed passengers a choice of the means of conveyance but illegally seized their luggage and used threatening and abusive language in his endeavour to compel their patronage.'

Disembarking passengers not only had to keep an eye on their luggage, but also their pockets. Mr. Wycks Norton of Newcastle landed in Morpeth on the Cornubia steamer in 1846 found on reaching the public street in Morpeth after pushing his way through the crowd of Passengers and idlers who stood on the quay that his pocket book containing 40 had been stolen.

In August 1845, the proprietors of the Sophia Jane announced they would have to withdraw her from trade. Extensive repairs were required 'to a greater extent than it would be prudent to encounter' and they were reluctantly compelled to suspend her trips, although it was contemplated to build a new replacement Steamer. The Sophia Jane was to leave Morpeth for Sydney for her last trip soon after the announcement.

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THISTLE

Image of the Thistle (Sydney Morning Herald)

Captain Robert Lorn Pattison (1843) (obituary); Captain William Mulhall (1844, 1848); Principal Engineer Robert McDougal (1847)

The 'Thistle', under Captain Pattison's command, was one of only two steamers to ply between Sydney and Morpeth during the winter of 1843.

She was one of the first ships owned by the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company and was solid and two masted with flush deck and replaced. She replaced 'Sovereign' on the Moreton Bay run in 1846. She ran aground there in March 1846 when Captain Mulhall decided against a pilot. The settlement was impressed with her capacity and speed which enabled her to take wool clip to Sydney at a faster rate than the 'Sovereign'

In 1846 the following was recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald:

COLLISION AT SEA: On Saturday night, about  nine o'clock, the steamer Thistle, and a small cutter called the 'Black Swan', came into contact, when we regret to say, two lives were lost. The following is an account of the accident :

'The steamer 'Thistle', Captain Mulhall, left Newcastle on Saturday evening, at six o'clock, the 24th October 1846, upon her way to Sydney; when off Bungaree's Nora, about 9 pm was run into by a small cutter called the 'Black Swan'. The night being very thick and dark, and the cutter showing no light, prevented her being seen before she came close under the bows, when she carried away the Thistle's bob stay, gib-guys, and top gallant mast. Hearing a cry for help aboard the cutter, the 'Thistle' lowered the larboard boat, which was no sooner in the water than she filled and got stove, losing the oars, and nearly the lives of two men; cleared away the starboard boat, and sent the second mate and two hands aboard the Black Swan, who returned with one man, being the only one left on board, the others, Nicholas Walsh and one other having been knocked overboard, it is supposed, by the main boom, and drowned. They lay to for the remainder of the night close to the cutter, during which time she had drifted about seven or eight miles from Newcastle. At day light, finding that the cutter had not received much injury, the second mate of the steamer was sent with two hands and the man belonging to her aboard, for the purpose of taking her into Newcastle.

We the undersigned passengers by the steamer 'Thistle', upon Saturday night, the 24th October 1846 declare that the above statement is correct as far as we were witnesses of the circumstance, and that no blame is to be attributed to the master or crew of the steamer, as the cutter showed no light, and the steamer had a good light and look out at the time the accident took place. also that the master, officers, and crew used every endeavour to save the said cutter and her crew. Signed Richard Windeyer, G. Morant, Simpson, John B. Smith, Henry Phillips, Thomas M. Jones, Joseph Forster.'

The 'Thistle' was more fortunate in 1848 when near Bird Island on a passage from Morpeth, the main shaft broke rendering one paddle wheel useless. She was delayed five hours while temporary repair measures were taken and the 'Rose' replaced her run for 10 days while more permanent repairs were finished.

In December 1848 the 'Thistle' under Captain Mulhall was reported to have made the trip from Sydney in under ten hours, the fastest passage for a considerable time.

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TAMAR

Captain Ellis (1835), Captain William Mulhall 1837,  Captain Allen (1848)

 

December 1837 - To the Editor of the Sydney Herald

Sir, Through the medium of your Paper, I beg leave to inform the Public, of the particulars of the Tamar steam boat, under my command, grounding on Reid's Mistake Point.

About Half past twelve o'clock on Tuesday morning, the point of Bungaree Norah bearing N.W. Distant between three or four miles. The course I ordered was N. by E 1/2 E, and nothing to the northward of her course

I went below leaving the deck in charge of the Chief Officer, and he must have altered the course two or three points after I was below to have brought the vessel where she grounded.

At half past two, the vessel grounded on the point alluded to, I immediately ran on deck ,and order the Engineer to back the engine astern, when the vessel came off without making any water whatever, and continued on the voyage as usual, making no water

But, for the satisfaction of the Public, and to suppress false rumours , the owner has ordered her on the patent slip to ascertain the exact damage done by this untoward incident

I have the honor to be Sir, Your humble and obedient Servant, William Mulhall, Master of the Tamar steamer

The Tamar was purchased by J.T. Wilson in 1839. It was planned continue in Hunter river trade as before.

The Tamar was offered for sale with other vessels belonging to the General Steam Navigation Company in 1842.

In 1844 the Tamar was involved in an accident opposite Mr. Hickeys property. James Coonford had been crossing the river and although a person on the paddle box of the 'Tamar' called to him repeatedly to 'keep off' he persisted in coming stern on. His boat struck against the paddle box and was upset. Every exertion was made to save the man, the steamer being stopped, and a boat lowered in two minutes after the accident had occurred. No blame was attached to any person on board.

In 1846 the Tamar was owned by The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company. The crew had a narrow escape during a storm on the passage from Sydney to Morpeth on a January afternoon in 1846 when she was struck by lightning when between Lake Macquarie and Red Head.

'In consequence of the rain most of the crew had gone below to shift their clothing with the exception of the man at the wheel and the engineer; the captain was walking the poop when the occurrence took place. the Engineer saw the lightning playing along the foreyard for some time, and ordered the firemen to throw fresh fuel on the fires to create smoke, thinking it would prevent the lightning from entering the funnel. A few minutes after a heavy flash struck the throat halyard block of the foresail, and running down the halyard (a chain one), shattered the foremast within about four feet of the deck, where it was surrounded by an iron hoop to which the belaying pins were attached. The mast fell over the starboard bow, by which the rail and bulwarks were smashed. The fore cabin steward was coming on deck at the time, and narrowly escaped being crushed; the engineer was standing under the lee of the starboard paddle box when it occurred, but luckily escaped uninjured. When the mast fell the electric fluid is supposed to have passed along the chain, and over the anchor into the sea. '

She later underwent a thorough repair. The machinery was taken out and the working parts renewed. New boilers replaced the old by the Company's engineer, Mr. Fyfe. She was also strengthened with new beams in various parts and in June she made an 'experimental trip' a few miles outside the Sydney Heads. It was expected her speed would be nearly equal to the Company's iron boats; and her cabins, for comfort were said to be second to none - especially the ladies' cabin.

*In August 1849 Captain Allen was in command of the new steamer the Eagle on her first trip to Moreton Bay.
 

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SHAMROCK

Captain Gilmore 1849

The Shamrock was owned by the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company. She was rigged as a three masted schooner, with a raised quarter deck and had been built in Bristol. In 1843 she replaced the 'Seahorse' plying between Launceston, Melbourne and Sydney. In February 1846 she was the vessel of choice for Rev. Dr. Lang on his voyage to Port Phillip and Moreton Bay and in October of that year she landed a party of five Europeans and ten blacks who were intent on an expedition to recover a white woman from natives in Gipps Land.

In August 1848 she was put in to Pyrmont for repairs. New boilers weighing twenty tons were fitted and the machinery was taken out and overhauled. Great improvements were made to her cabin accommodations -  the ladies' cabin was fitted up with ten berths and situated in the aft part of the poop instead of the fore. This left a large saloon of 33 ft capable of accommodating 24 passengers. On each side of the saloon four spacious state cabins were fitted up in the best style. On completion of the repairs she was to resume her  trips to Port Phillip.

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CERES

Captain Livingstone  (1836)

The Ceres, commanded by Captain Livingstone, made a trial trip on Sydney Harbour on 21st January 1836 and six weeks later made her first trip to the Hunter River. She was fast and was said to have only taken 6 1/2 hours from Newcastle Wharf to Sydney.

Her launching in April 1835 had been a gay affair. The Sophia Jane, conveying a 'number of respectable persons' to the launch, arrived in Green Hills on a Wednesday evening 'amidst the acclamations of multitudes of spectators who crowded the eminences and banks of the river on either side. On Thursday morning they set off for the the Deptford ship yard of Messrs Marshall and Lowe on the William River. They moored to the best advantage to give the ladies a fair view of the Ceres which was tastefully decorated with flags. The last block was cut from under and the pride of the Hunter River Steam Association glided down the slipway. She was christened with a bottle of fine old port wine by a daughter of T.M. Winder assisted by Captain Church. The band played 'God save the King', 'Rule Britannia' and 'Hearts of Oak' before the company stepped aboard the Ceres for a series of Quadrilles, and country dances.

The event was recorded by a correspondent to the Sydney Gazette:

'In April 1835 the Sophia Jane was engaged to take the Maitland Cockneys to see this grand sight. A beautiful day it was, and the numerous and respectable company seemed determined to enjoy themselves. Part of the 17th band were engaged, and quadrilles etc were the order of the day. A pleasing river is the Williams, and it was a splendid sight to see the proud boat, stately as a swan wend her way through the numerous bends of the river - now narrowing, so that the trees on either side almost formed a festoon over the vessel - now widening to a broad lake like sheet of water, with green hills and white cottages, dotting here and there the verdant banks. On nearing the yard where the Ceres was laying on the stocks, a burst of wonder and delight broke from the admiring spectators; the noble vessel was seen high in air - ready, at the word of insignificant man, to dart into her native element - the wonder and pride of the Hunter. The grateful ceremony of christening her devolved upon the fair daughter of Mr. Winder, who with Graceful timidity, advanced to the platform, laving her sides (note the lady's, but the boat's) with generous wine, proclaimed her name to the world. After partaking of refreshment the company again embarked and departed for home, the cheerful glass circulated, and dancing was kept up with spirit. The military spurs of a certain gent harmonised admirably with the flowing drapery of a lady passenger'.

Five months later the 'Ceres' was wrecked when, after a night of heavy seas, she was taken between Bird Island and Bungaree Norah (Norah Head) and struck a rock. She sank quickly however all 26 passengers and crew were saved, after the one life boat on board made four trips back, the last one taking passengers from the mast as the ship sank. The 'Sophia Jane' first brought the news to Sydney after she had passed wreckage known to be of the 'Ceres'. Two passengers walked to Brisbane Water from the site of the wreck with dark tales (later denied) of passengers and children denied seats on the life boats.  Mr. John Korff later purchased the wreck for 91 pounds. He built a vessel on the beach from the wreckage of the Ceres and then took the machinery to Sydney where it was later installed in the 'Victoria'

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EXPERIMENT

My thanks to Ron Madden for providing details about the Experiment.

On 18th May 1832, the Australian reported that (George) Yeomans and (Benjamin) Singleton had built a large boat to be worked by horse/paddles providing an up river service on the Williams and Paterson Rivers to connect with the vessel that arrived at the wharf at Morpeth.

Built at the Deptford Shipyard at the Williams River by Messrs Marshall and Lowe the Experiment was 80 ft in length with beam 12 ft. and drew 2ft of water with 80 tons of cargo. Some difficulty was experienced at first with the horses but afterwards they made the boat move along at about six miles per hour. Although a novelty and used in her intended capacity briefly, she was not a success.

The aptly named Experiment was sailed with considerable difficulty to Port Jackson where she was described as a horse boat and briefly operated as a ferry to Parramatta and back. It was claimed she was capable of carrying at least one hundred  passengers and about 20 tons of cargo.  She then briefly operated as a horse powered harbour cruise vessel before being was sold to Mr. Edye Manning who installed a steam engine.

Operating as a steamer between Parramatta and Sydney from 1834, she left Parramatta for Sydney every morning except Sunday. In 1846 she was sent to Moreton Bay and became the first steamer to ply on the Brisbane River.

From William Lowe; Pioneer Shipbuilder of Clarence Town, An Australian Bicentennial Project printed by Craftsman Colour, Newcastle, 1988

In 1838 the Sydney Gazette reported that Captain Toby, late of the steamer Experiment, had perished along with his wife in the wreck of the Schah near Twofold Bay

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THE PHOENIX

Captain Wiseman 1848, 1849

In 1846 the Phoenix was launched in Sydney. She was said to be one of the best specimens of colonial ship building and Mr. Chowne the builder, had taken every care in her construction.  Her draft of water when launched was 3'6" forward, and 4'6" aft;  dimensions: 105 feet keel, 130 feet over all; breadth of beam, 19' 6 " ; depth of hold, 9'. The accommodation for passengers was said to be superior. Twleve berths were fitted up in the ladies' cabin, sixteen in the saloon, and fourteen in the fore cabin. The engine belonged to the famous Sophia Jane that had been launched 15 years before to ply her trade on the Hunter, but the boilers of the Phoenix were newly made by Mr. Struth.

The Phoenix made an excursion to Wollongong in October 1846 taking four hours to reach her destination, she had travelled at an average speed of nine and a half knots. Estimated to be faster than many of the other steamers, she was  to make her maiden voyage to Morpeth where a large number of spectators were expected to witness her debut at the Green Hills.

She commenced her regular trips to the Hunter on Friday 9th November, 1846 and was despatched on days on which there was no other steam conveyance between Morpeth and Sydney. She left Kellick's Wharf in Sydney every Tuesday and Friday Evening at 8pm and Anlaby's Wharf in Morpeth every Monday and Thursday morning at 7am.

In 1849 the Phoenix was involved in the rescue of the 'Lady Clarke' off Nobby's. The 'Lady Clarke' had left Newcastle for Twofold Bay on a Sunday morning and after clearing the heads with the wind on the land it was attempted to put her about without success. She had drifted on to the reef off Nobby's before the Phoenix managed to rescue her from her perilous position. Captain Wiseman received 20 reward for his part in the rescue.

She was employed in the Clarence River trade and the district was deprived of steam communication with southern districts for some time when the Phoenix was wrecked near the Clarence on Sunday 3rd March 1850 after a terrific squall or rather a hurricane of wind with driving rains blew up from the south. When the Phoenix encountered the gale, being a vessel of small power in proportion to her size she was unable to work herself off the land and was driven on shore. She carried on her deck a large cargo of wool which contributed to her difficulties. The crew and passengers - Mr. & Mrs. Manning and four children Mr. Birkett and ten in the steerage were all saved and Captain Wiseman, finding it impossible to save the ship ran her aground managing to save her cargo as well.

The Phoenix, owned by Messrs E and W. M. Manning was valued at 6,000 and was uninsured.

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THE VICTORIA

Captain Taggart 1842

The Victoria was offered for sale by auction by the General Steam Navigation Company early in February 1842. She was described as a 196 ton vessel with two engines of forty horse power each, with everything complete and in running order. She had made her first trip in May 1840 and had never missed her usual trip of twice a week to and from Morpeth, with the exception of about six weeks when she was overhauled, and every part of her machinery was examined and perfected. She was said to be well suited to run between Port Phillip and Sydney or between Launceston and Port Phillip.

The Hunter River Gazette reported later in February - 'This steamer has resumed her trips between Sydney and Morpeth; Mr. Edye Manning having made arrangements to run her in that trade. The Victoria leaves Morpeth every Monday and Friday at noon, and Sydney every Wednesday and Saturday. The public, we have no doubt, will continue to support this boat as effectually as they have done hitherto, for independently of her merits as a safe and certain conveyance, both for passengers and goods. The benefits derived by the public from  competition have been experienced in the reduction of fares for passengers between Morpeth and Sydney, first introduced by the Victoria. Besides this vessel, another day steamer the Sovereign is also employed in the same trade, having been first introduced to supply the deficiency occasioned by the temporary withdrawal of the Victoria The success she has met with is such, that we understand she will now be continued in the trade, and will thus afford great additional accommodation to the public which we hope they will know how to appreciate.

A correspondent to the Hunter River Gazette in April wrote of her - 'I confess it is not without some slight emotion, mingled with pride, that I watch the onward movement of the Lady Queen (Victoria) as she gallantly sweeps the river, whose rippling waves as they kiss the shore seem to awaken her forest subjects with their pendant boughs, to a graceful but silent homage, her veteran commander may not possess the 'Suaviter in modo' of some of his junior brethren, but if a rigid and unremitting attention to the duties of his vessel constitute a claim to public patronage then, of all the sons of the ocean whose proud barques sweep the waters of our unrivalled metropolitan harbour, is Captain Taggart, equalled by few - surpassed by none.

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THE MAITLAND

Captain Parsons (1847)  Captain Beel (1850)

The Maitland was launched from the Building yard of Mr. Russell, at Darling Harbour in 1837 amidst an immense concourse of spectators. Intended for the Hunter River trade, she was 103 tons with one engine of 60 horse power. She was considered to be a very strong and substantial vessel. In 1842 she boasted a new engine of 60 horse power that had been built expressly for the her (at a cost of three thousand pounds) by Fawcett, Preston & Co of Liverpool.

The Maitland was run regularly between Port Macquarie and Sydney in 1842.

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HUNTRESS

In 1841 the new steamboat Huntress was advertised for auction in 1841. - Coppered and Copper fastened; River built, after the American model, quite new; and admirably adapted for a Parramatta River despatch Passenger boat. Mr. Stubbs is instruction by the West Maitland Steam Navigation Company to sell by public auction, the very beautifully modelled Steam passenger boat Huntress. No expense has been spared in the finishing of her; and her materials are of the very best quality; in fact her timbers are from a gentleman's Estate where they were selected from some of the cleanest and soundest timber in the colony. She is coppered and copper fastened, combining speed convenience and economy - drawing but very little water. She is the boat of all others in the colony to ply on the Parramatta River. She is a perfect model for despatch - easily worked and capable, from her peculiar scientific constructions, of making very quick profitable and successful trips. She is in a complete state to receive her engines and is in every respect deserving the notice of those parties on the Parramatta River, who have been contemplating starting a boat, in consequence of the unprecedented call for further accommodation.- Sydney Gazette July 1841

The Old Steamer Huntress - This old craft, which is perhaps hardly entitled to the term steamer, in as much as although she was built for one, and has paddle boxes attached, no machinery was ever placed in her, seems to have at length found a secure mooring place, after having for some years kept the owners of boats on the river in terror by her vagaries during each fresh. The late flood, like each fresh, broke her loose from her previous moorings, but, unlike them, was high enough to take her on to the flat shingle beach by McDougall's Falls, where, a lucky ridge of shingle stopping her, she was stayed, and where she now rests, securely bedded in mud and shingle, some one hundred feet from the river. Here she will probably finally fall to pieces, unless some higher flood comes down and set  her wandering again. It is a great pity that a claim of some 200 for unpaid work should have sufficed to prevent any shareholder from interfering with her even so far as to make use of her as she is, the dread of this claim and its interest having, we believe, been the sole cause why the shareholders declined to have anything to do with her when, a few years ago, an offer was made by an enterprising man to put a small engine in her an start her on the river at his own expense, if secured against old claims, and allowed to have her rent free for some time.- Maitland 3 March 1847.

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THE CORNUBIA 

Captain Taggart

In February 1846 the Maitland Mercury carried the following article:

'The Cornubia - You will be gratified to hear that the Cornubia, on her First trip to the Hunter, has performed exceedingly well. She left Kelllick's Wharf at 25 minutes to 9 on Monday night and reached Newcastle at 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning, having had to contend with a heavy cross sea and the wind right in her teeth the whole of the way, against which she must have steamed about 5 1/2 knots per hour, with a full cargo; thus proving that her qualities as a sea boat are of no very mean order. At a quarter ebb tide (thanks to the dredge) the Cornubia went swimmingly over the Flats. This promises well for her future services. In deed, on the whole, Captain Stericker, who commands her, is much pleased with her performance.

The following week:

'Our readers will be glad to learn that this steamer has made another successful trip, having arrived at Morpeth yesterday morning with a full cargo, passing over the Flats at about half tide, without touching. There proves to be abundance of cargo for her at each end; so that there is every prospect of her proving a permanent accession to our facilities for trading with Sydney'.

In March the Cornubia transported His Honor Mr. Justice Therry to the Hunter in readiness for the Quarter Sessions. Accompanying him on the steamer were the Attorney General, and barristers Messrs. Purefoy, Holroyd, and Dowling. Also on board were Mr. Blair, Clerk of Arraigns and Mr. Cornelius Prout, Under Sheriff.

By September 1846 the Cornubia was trading regularly between Morpeth and Sydney, advertising passage to Sydney for one shilling. This fee was for steerage. A Cabin ticket could be purchased for 4/-. Refreshments were purchased on board at 'moderate rates'. The Cornubia left from Morpeth every Wednesday and Saturday mornings and from Kellick's Wharf, Sydney every Monday and Thursday at 8pm.

Captain Taggart was Master of the Cornubia in June 1847 between Port Phillip and Launceston.

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JAMES WATT

Captain Griffin 1840, John Taggart 1845

Owned by Joseph Hickey Grose the James Watt was the second steamer to reach Australia from Great Britain. She had been built for the Glasgow trade but was not a success and although well appointed, her speed was affected due to miscalculation in  regard to her draught. In April 1840, she underwent thorough repairs and was idle for some time. She was a 400 ton vessel with her main deck 87 ft. in length and poop deck 43ft. She was fitted with 2 x 45 h.p. engines. The Cabin accommodation was fitted with every necessity required. There were 16 enclosed cabins containing 16 berths; one ladies cabin containing 7 berths and the Captain's cabin. For the convenience of the passengers,  a bell of  a different sound was fitted to each cabin and led to the stewards pantry. The wash stands each had a 'cistern of fresh water affixed above them with a pipe leading to the basin and a small brass cock by which means water could be drawn and after a small plug or stopper with a brass chain was drained from the bottom of the basin discharging the water over board'. The dining room was of polished mahogany and satin wood. Captain Griffin who had previously been Captain on the Sophia Jane was to take charge of the James Watt after her repairs were complete.

In 1842 she was sold to the newly formed Hunter River Steam Navigation Company and employed in the Clarence River and was a pioneer of the Moreton Bay trade.

John Taggart was Captain of the James Watt in 1845. In May of that year an unusual case was heard in the Sydney courts in 1845. Anne Elizabeth Canney was committed for trial for writing and publishing a libel of Captain John Taggart. In an outrageous letter sent to the cashier of a bank and to the manager of the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company she charged Captain Taggart with having committed numerous murders. Although doubts were said to be held as to her sanity, she was allowed bail.

The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company announced in December 1845, that they intended to transfer the engines of the steamer James Watt into a new vessel, to be built for that purpose. The James Watt was to be employed in conveying coal from Newcastle to the Company's various depots. Maitland Mercury  6 December 1845, 10 May 1845.

She was broken up in 1847

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THE EAGLE

Captain Allen 1849

The new steamer owned by the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, the Eagle had a close call on one of her first passages. Under Captain Allen (formerly of the 'Tamar') she was on her way to Newcastle from Sydney to load coals when at 3am, she collided with the cutter Trial under Captain Barton. The Trial was on her passage from the Hunter to Sydney laden with grain. She suffered a broken jibboom. The Trial's jibboom had run into the steamer's sponsons on the larboard side, breaking her jibboom off and again made a fresh entry in the steamer's quarters, tearing away a great portion of the ornamental work down to the stern. After repairing damage and loading coals at Newcastle she loaded her passengers and with a full cargo headed for Moreton Bay on the evening of the 31st August 1849. The passengers included Mrs. Asher, child and servant, Mr. and Mrs. Gibson, Captain Vignoles, Hon. Mr. Hope, Mr. Tingcomb, Mr. Cameron, Mr. King, Mrs. Daley, Mr. Bowman, Mr. Bigge, four in the steerage and forty Irish orphan girls.  (Maitland Mercury 1 August 1849)

On her return trip south she made a very quick run of just 42 hours from Moreton Bay to Newcastle where she stopped for a supply of coals before proceeding to Sydney.

In Sydney in  December the same year a seaman from the Eagle met his death while bathing in Woolloomooloo Bay 30 yds out from the fig tree when he was attacked by a shark. He instantly gave the alarm and two men attempted to rescue him however the shark seized him in the groin, and it was not until he was struck several blows on the head with an oar that he let go his hold. When the unfortunate man was pulled into the boat it was found that nearly the whole of the flesh of the thigh was stripped from the bone and he expired a few minutes later. (Maitland Mercury 5 December 1849)

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William IV  - 'Puffing Billy'

Paddle wheel steamer, William the Fourth was launched in November 1831, fully rigged but minus her Liverpool made engines which were later installed and improved in Sydney by Alexander Lyle Pattison of the Phoenix Foundry. Mr. Pattison had arrived in Sydney in 1827 and was prominent in the development of early Australian steam navigation.  A large crowd assembled to witness the launch and partake of the luncheon provided by owner and prominent Sydney merchant Joseph Hickey Grose.

Her dimensions:  80ft in length; 15ft beam amidships and 13ft aft; 20ft over the sponsons, height from keel to flush deck 7ft; after cabin height 6ft 6in; Length of ladies cabin 12ft and gentlemen's cabin 16ft. Outside, the planking was of flooded gum 1 3/4" thick, deck planking being of native pine 2 1/2 inches thick. Tonnage: 100 tons; tonnage for goods, 25 tons; draft of water 5ft; two masts, schooner- rig. the whole (excepting the deck planks) including treenails was of flooded gum. The cabin fittings were made of cedar.

Although Captain Taggart arrived at the Williams River shipyard in September 1831 to superintend the launch of the William IV, last details still had to be completed and she was not launched until November.   Captain Taggart who was previously Captain of the 'Lord Liverpool'  was to be William IV 's  first Captain.

On her maiden voyage to the Hunter early in 1832 she left Parker's Wharf, Sydney at 7.30 pm, clearing the heads in 44 minutes and arrived at the Watt Street wharf in Newcastle at 6am the following morning. Fares from Sydney to Newcastle were 20/- for cabin and 12/6- for steerage.

Steamers were used for conveying prisoners to the courts or gaols. In 1834 an aboriginal named Wong-ko-bi-kan (Jacky Jacky) was committed for trial for the murder of John Flynn on the William's river. He arrived in Sydney by the steamer William the Fourth entirely naked with the irons on his legs lacerating them in a dreadful manner. He cried most bitterly on leaving Newcastle.

The contract to build the William IV had been signed with Williams River ship builders Marshall and Lowe earlier in 1831. Scottish ship builders James Marshall and William Lowe had arrived on the Tiger in 1828 after spending time in South America. The abundance of excellent hardwoods - flooded gum and ironbark convinced them to commence their shipbuilding at the Williams River. They constructed a wet dock where a small creek entered the Williams so that vessels could be floated at high tide for repairs. They could be found at times travelling about the Williams River district in search of timber for their vessels.

The vessels Ceres, Elfin, Earl Grey, Courier and Experiment were also built at the Deptford Shipyard.

Captain Taggart (who was at various times Captain of the Lord Liverpool cutter and James Watt', Sophia Jane, Maitland, Victoria and Phoenix steamers ) was well known throughout the Hunter River passenger trade. He died at his residence in Castlereagh Street, South Sydney on 6th January 1850 after a severe and protracted illness of many months aged 65 years. He was said to have been a respected resident of the colony for more than 22 years.

(Also known as) King William IV

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The Clarence

1852

On Wednesday the new steamer Clarence arrived at Morpeth on her first trip. We have not yet had an opportunity of inspecting her, but her passengers unite in speaking of her as a very fine boat, promising to be very fast when her bottom is cleaned, and a remarkably easy boat.  She will carry a large cargo, 160 tons it is stated, below, and will therefore be of the greatest value in clearing off the produce that has been so long accumulating on the river and in many cases spoiling), from want of means of shipment. So great was the anxiety to take advantage of the opportunity of shipping, that cargo sufficient for two or three trips was ready for her at the wharf on arrival, and she consequently left, on Thursday morning, deeply laden. We are informed that the wise precaution was taken, on her passage down, of waiting to pass the Flats at pretty high tide, so that she did not leave Newcastle till late on Thursday evening.

We are indebted for the following graphic account of her passage up from Sydney to Captain Lodge, one of her passengers:

"East Maitland, June 30 1852. The appearance of the new steamboat Clarence on the waters of the Hunter is doubtless an event of considerable interest to numbers living in the district, and the first trip will be much discussed, owing to her having started from Sydney at the same time with the Thistle. Although only a few hours have lapsed since the arrival of the boats at Morpeth, so many contradictory accounts of the passage have got into circulation, that I am induced to put you in possession of the facts as near as I am able, being a passenger by the Clarence. At 10 pm of Tuesday both boats were ready for starting; the Thistle with her head out from the A.S.N. Co. Wharf; and the Clarence, with her head up the harbour at the Phoenix Wharf. Whilst the people on the wharf were cheering the Clarence, and being responded to from the vessel, some ropes were by mistake let go, and she had to return to the wharf to get them fast again. This time the rope or ropes held on, but the place to which they were secured gave way, and caused considerable delay in getting the boat round. In the meantime the Thistle started fair, and was out of sight, and when the Clarence made her final start must have been well down the harbour. When we got down to the Heads, the Thistle was seen about three miles ahead, apparently under all sail. What took place during the night I know nothing of but upon coming on deck again at 4 am of this day, the Newcastle light appeared about six or seven miles off, and at 4.30 we saw a vessel carrying a light entering the harbour. The vessel appeared about five miles from us. The Clarence at this time going at about a quarter speed. This light I conclude must have been the Thistle's ; at all events we saw no more of her till we got to Morpeth. The Clarence remained outside till broad daylight, and then ran into the harbour; and, owing to vessels being in the channel, had twice to let her anchor go before getting to the wharf. She remained at Newcastle till about 9 am, and then proceeded up the river, making the passage from Newcastle to Morpeth in about three hours, exclusive of stoppages, against a strong ebb tide and a considerable fresh in the river. The Clarence has not been cleaned since her long overseas voyage, her officers and crew have had but little experience in the trade, and many of them none at all; but I think few people can take a passage by her without being convinced that she is the fastest and most comfortable steamboat that has as yet appeared in Australian waters and that should she continue in the Hunter River trade the first complaint we shall hear will be that her cabins are not large enough for the demand there will be for room"......Maitland Mercury 3 July 1852

The Clarence was soon advertised for sale. The Advertisement included the following description:

' The Clarence is an Iron Steam Ship built by Mr. Laird of Birkenhead. She is fitted with two new side Lever Engines, constructed by Messrs Fawcett and Preston of Liverpool, of 60 horse power each, with Tubular Boiler, and all modern improvements (with additional machinery for extinguishing fire, filling boiler, and pumping ship)

The Building of this ship was superintended by Captain Wiseman, who went to England expressly for the purpose.

The Clarence is of 383 tons, builder's measurement, 150 feet long between the perpendiculars, 23 feet beam between the paddle boxes, and 11 feet depth of hold. She draws when laden 7 feet 6 inches of water. She has a raised Quarter deck 3 feet high, and is remarkably roomy on deck. She carries 80 tons of coals in her coal burners, and her capacity for stowage of cargo is very large, as she can carry 240 bales wool below hatches.

Her accommodations, both fore and aft, are of a very superior description, and on her trial trip she accomplished, under steam, upwards of 12 knots an hour.

She is admirably adapted for all inter-colonial trade. Has proved herself a first rate sea boat, and capable of contending with high seas and tempestuous weather. '

Maitland Mercury September 1852


 

THE ROSE

 

The Rose was one of the first ships owned by the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company. She was a 'solid little two masted flush decked packet built by Fairbairn  Co in England.

With the Shamrock and the Thistle,  the Rose flew the flag of the Hunter River Steam Navigation Co. in 1841.  Mr. John Fyfe who was subsequently superintendent engineer of that company was chief engineer of the Rose on her maiden voyage from England to Australia. The Rose departed London on 31st October 1840 under Captain Stewart and came via the Cape of Good Hope arriving in Sydney in April 1841. Passengers included Mr. and Mrs. Christian and Mr. Griffin.

The Rose was the first new steamer acquired by the H.R.S.N Co., and the first iron boat to touch Australia shores. The three vessels, the Shamrock, the Thistle and the Rose,  were very popular, and they traded on the coast for many years. Graceful of line and comfortable to travel in, she was a great improvement upon the earlier craft that coastal passengers had at their disposal. From 1846 - 1851 Mr. Fyfe was in the service of the A.S.N.Co the ancestor of the A.U.S.N. co., After he retired from the former company he followed other business pursuits, but subsequently resumed engineering practice and became consulting engineer to the H.R.S.N. Co. Later he filled an important position in the Harbours and Rivers Department, which he held until failing health compelled him to retire. He died in 1888. He had a very interesting career. Members of his profession regarded him as one of the oldest engineers in the world - a link between James Watt and the engineers of the early eighties. In announcing his death the S.M. Herald of August 7 1888 stated : He worked in the construction of the first engine in 1812, was a good man, a skilled engineer, and one who during his long life won and kept the esteem of all wit whom he came in contact.

On Monday afternoon 12 April 1841 the Rose made a trial trip from Girard's wharf and proceeded several miles beyond the Sydney Heads, and returned about five o'clock. There was a select party on board and a band of music, which latter greatly enlivened the excursion. The vessel is one of the very best description - her model is elegant, her accommodation superior, and her sped averaged throughout nearly 14 knots an hour. Her celocity certainly will be increased when her engines have been in full play for a few voyages. The proprietors handsomely furnished to all on board a most splendid entertainment, and the day was spent with the greatest pleasure and hilarity. The Rose with the Shamrock and Thistle were intended to ply between Sydney and the Hunter.

The Sydney Herald reported that the Rose started on her first trip for the Hunter on the morning of the 15th April 1841 with about twenty passengers. She was intending to leave Morpeth on the following morning in company with the Victoria and was expected in Sydney between five and six in the evening.


From Sydney to Morpeth 1840's

Joseph Townsend. Rambles and Observations in New South Wales. With Sketches of Men and Manners, notices of the Aborigines, glimpses of scenery and some hints to Emigrants.

Click to enlarge

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Rambles and Observations in New South Wales ... By Joseph Phipps Townsend 1849

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Accident at Morpeth Wharf

On Sunday morning a rather singular accident happened to an omnibus belonging to Mr. J. Turner, but not then driven by him. The bus was as usual waiting, with others, on Taylor's wharf, Morpeth, for passengers from the up-steamer; when the steamer arrived a crowd hastened to Turner's bus, and filled it inside and out; when ready for the starting the driver called out to another coach to move on, and the coach did so, but from some cause was pulled up suddenly after going two or three yards; meanwhile Turner's bus had also begun moving, and not anticipating the sudden check, the horses, to avoid running into the first coach, moved sharply to the right; the wheels got locked and a piece of iron connecting the back spring with the body of the bus was snapped by the sudden strain; instantly the bus heeled, and overturned, the outside passengers all falling together in a ruck, and the inside tumbling against each other. It was at first feared and reported that serious injuries had been inflicted on some of the passengers, but happily the injuries were comparatively light, the most seriously case being that of a lady whose wrist was dislocated, and the small bones of her arm broke; another female was wounded in the back of her head, and a gentleman was injured in the cap of the knee, while most of the passengers were bruised more or less. It was subsequently found that the piece of iron which snapped was partially gone before. It is wonderful that the disgraceful state of the Morpeth road, which has driven several coaches off the line, had not caused a breakage of this iron previously. Maitland Mercury April 1852

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Steam Companies

1863

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Australian Almanac

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Wreck of the 'Sovereign'

Owned by the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, the 'Sovereign' was a steam packet plying trade between Sydney and Brisbane.

The steamers were the fastest means of communication in 1847 often making the journey in just three days, although not always - Ludwig Leichhardt, travelling (gratis) on the Sovereign on his journey in 1845 took a week to arrive at Brisbane. The Sovereign would regularly carry livestock, wool and other goods as well as passengers. She was ill equipped for the conditions however, having been built to travel shorter distances on the coast or rivers. Like other steamers of the day, she was also regularly overloaded with goods.

In 1844 she had visited the Manning River, being the largest vessel and the first of her class to do so. The Captain entered without a Pilot, although the passage was considered very intricate, and the Steamer grounded on one of the numerous flats that occur at the mouth of the river. She was removed from the flats in a few hours and continued on as far as Taree Wharf where she took on a cargo of 94 bales of wool and wheat.

On the 10th March, 1847 the 'Sovereign', laden with wool bales and  delayed at Amity Point  by a succession southerly gales, set out to navigate her way through the South Passage between Moreton and Stradbroke Islands.  The passengers on board were in high spirits as the little steamer topped the rollers - Mr Gore even observed 'Here is a five barred gate - how nobly she tops it'.

However before she could clear the bar, disaster struck. The engineer had found that the framing of the engines and part of the machinery had broken down. The Sovereign began drifting onto the north spit and steam was let off to prevent the vessel from being blown up. At this point the rudder chains parted and water began washing over the decks. The larboard anchor was let go - the starboard one having been carried away from the bows.  There was no wind at the time, however the waves now broke upon the vessel with great violence, carrying away bulwarks and causing the wool and timber on the decks to shift dangerously about. Three men were almost killed and several more had arms and legs broken.   Captain Cape informed all on board that he entertained no hope of saving the ship. Waves continued to break over the ship and many people panicked, plunging into the sea in the hope of making it to shore.

Messrs. Dennis, Berkeley and Elliott worked for some time at the pumps to no avail. Richard Stubbs was washed overboard at this time however he managed to climb on board again making his way to the ladies' cabin. He tried to save Mrs. Gore and her child before returning on deck to throw bales of wool overboard. Returning to Mrs. Gore below he heard her tell the stewardess 'We can die but once. Jesus died for us. God keep us' They returned to the deck where they found Mr. Dennis standing near the poop with his head cut and bleeding profusely, Mr. Elliott standing close by and Mr. Berkeley standing just below them.  Captain Cape, who several times had been washed overboard was hanging on by the shrouds. He saw Mr. Joyner, John Scard and others near the foremast head and the mainmast.

With danger imminent Richard Stubbs now jumped overboard crying to others as he did 'avoid the suction'. A dreadful shriek was heard proceeding from one of the females as the Sovereign took one roll, heeled over and sank. The struggle for life then commenced; some of the passengers clung to the wool bales - some to portions of the wreck, while others who had been disabled on board soon drowned.  Mrs. Gore was drowned immediately. Her husband, Mr. Dennis and Mr. Elliott clung to a wool bale in the water. Richard Stubbs, who had remained calm and practical throughout the ordeal, assisted Mr. Gore's child and a servant girl before tackling the enormous breakers to the beach where he was assisted by a native belonging to the pilot's crew. Others were not so lucky coming through the mountainous breakers, Mr. Berkeley who until then had been clinging to the paddle box with Captain Cape disappeared as the water broke upon them, to be seen no more. Captain Cape made it to shore and was carried to a hillock of sand by natives who had dragged him through the surf. 

Several members of the Nunukul and Ngugi tribes braved the treacherous waves to drag survivors of the wreck to the shore. Together with Mr. Richards and Mr. Clements who had been fishing  and William Rollings, a prisoner of the Crown, they managed to save the lives of six more people who otherwise would have perished in the surf.

The survivors were taken to the settlement in the pilot's boat. Although a search was made along the shore line, only two bodies were washed ashore (Mr. Brown, second officer and Frederick McKellar, steerage passenger). All others were supposed to have been washed out to sea.

Captain Cape was to be given command of a new steamer being built by the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company to run the Moreton Bay trade once more. He would retain his salary while it was being built.

LIST OF PASSENGERS WHO DIED

Cabin Passengers:

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gore, two children and servant girl; Mr. H. Dennis, Mr. E. Berkeley, Mr. Joyner, and Mr. Elliot

Steerage

Mrs. Bishop; Mrs. Chettle; John Higgins; Bremmy, a shearer;  John Robertson, Bathurst; Isaac Smith, shoemaker, Brisbane; James Anderson, servant to Mr. Gore; James Merry, hut keeper to Mr. C. Mackenzie, buried at Moreton Island; Frederic McKellar, bullock driver to Mr. C. McKenzie; Joe and a one armed man, lately in employ of Dr. Ramsay,; three men lately in the employ of Mr. Leslie, and four whose names are unknown

Crew

James Ryan, steward; Mary Ann Griffiths, Stewardess; Michael Mooney, second steward; Henry Neil, third steward; Henry Wood, fore cabin steward; Mr. Gibson, 1st officer; Mr. Brown, 2nd officer; Mr. Somerville, 1st engineer; Mr. Robinson, 2nd engineer; George Smith fireman; Isaac Jones, seaman; Robert Mackenzie, seaman; Henry Cumberland seaman; John Miller, seaman; Robert - , Seaman; George Blair, 1st cook; and William Horsemann, 2nd cook

Those saved

Captain Cape and Mr. Richard Stubbs, cabin passengers ; John McQuade, John Neil and Lawrence Flynn, fore cabin passengers; John McCullum, fireman; John Scard, fireman; John Clements, seaman; Thomas Harvey, Steward's boy; and John McGovern, boy

 

 

 

 

 

Free Settler or Felon