75 years ago today a queen arrived in Sydney

RMS QUEEN MARY in Sydney Harbour, 1941. ANMM Collection 00045046.

RMS QUEEN MARY in Sydney Harbour, 1941. ANMM Collection 00045046.

On 28th March 1942 the troopship RMS Queen Mary arrived in Sydney with 8,398 Americans on board, destined for the Pacific War. These first American troops to be transported on the ‘Grey Ghost’ (the nickname for the camouflaged giant, yet fast, former liner) had embarked in Boston on the 18th February on what became known as their ’40 days and 40 nights’ voyage.

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The many survivals of Barbara Crawford

The reality of travelling steerage where diseases found the perfect conditions. ANMM collection 00005627

The reality of travelling steerage, where diseases found the perfect conditions. ANMM Collection 00005627

The year 1837 was a busy one for the colony of New South Wales. Busiest of all was Sydney Harbour, which saw thousands of convicts arriving and a growing number of immigrants. In addition to the free single men and women, whole families were travelling from Britain to try their luck with a new life.

On 5 November 1836 the immigrant ship Lady McNaughton left Ireland for Australia. On board was the largest number of children ever to immigrate to Australia at that time. Passenger lists show 196 of the passengers of the ship were under the age of 14. However, by the time the ship was about 300 kilometres from Sydney, 54 of the passengers had died – 44 of those being children. Even in the age of dangerous sea travel, this was an extraordinarily high death rate. The typhus fever on board showed no signs of abating, with some 90 passengers still afflicted.

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A Polish ship, British children and caring Sydneysiders captured in concrete

This memorial to British children evacuated to Australia in 1940 also commemorates the local women who looked after them at Sydney's Quarantine Station. Image: Ursula K Frederick, Sydney Harbour National Park.

This memorial to British children evacuated to Australia in 1940 also commemorates the local women who looked after them at Sydney’s Quarantine Station. Image: Ursula K Frederick, Sydney Harbour National Park.

The Polish passenger liner MV Batory seems an odd ship to be commemorated at Sydney’s North Head Quarantine Station, as it never moored there. Yet its presence is captured in concrete: ‘BRITISH EVACUEE / CHILDREN / ARRIVED 16TH OCTOBER / 1940. M.S. BATORY / VA + DS’, followed by 37 names etched into four neat panels.

In fact, despite outbreaks of influenza, measles and ‘school sores’, the Batory was never quarantined. Rather, for the British children it rushed to Sydney in 1940, North Head represented a safe haven from German bombers and invasion scares.

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Finding Tingira: The search for the Royal Australian Navy’s first training ship

Oil painting of Sobraon (later Tingira), by William Barnett Spencer, c 1866. ANMM Collection 00009342

Oil painting of Sobraon (later Tingira), by William Barnett Spencer, c 1866. Image: ANMM Collection 00009342.

On a cold sunny morning in June 2016, Silentworld Foundation Director and maritime archaeologist Paul Hundley steered the survey vessel Maggie III into shallow water at the head of Berrys Bay on Sydney’s North Shore. Accompanying him were the museum’s maritime archaeologists Kieran Hosty and myself, staring intently at a laptop computer as it displayed readings from a marine magnetometer towed a short distance behind the boat. As Maggie III’s hull glided through water less than a metre deep, we watched for any indication that remnants of a unique sailing ship might lie buried in the silt below. Continue reading

Harold Cazneaux: Fame and family

Cazneaux family. Image: Reproduced courtesy the Cazneaux family.

Cazneaux family. Image: Reproduced courtesy the Cazneaux family.

‘No tribute could be too high or too glowing for this great lover and promoter of art and photography in Australia.’— Max Dupain writing about Harold Cazneaux’s legacy in 19781.

If you weave your way through the imagery and beautiful photographs in Through a different lens – Cazneaux by the water, you’ll notice that 1937 was a big year for Australian photographer Harold Cazneaux: the culmination of a forty-year career that corresponded with the dawning of the Australian nation, and an emerging national consciousness.

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Little shipmates: Seafaring pets

Portrait of a baby and a dog on a ship. Image: Samuel Hood / ANMM Collection 00023789.

Portrait of a baby and a dog on a ship. Image: Samuel Hood / ANMM Collection 00023789.

Cats, dogs, monkeys and birds have been cherished on board ships for as long as people have made sea voyages. In a life from which children and families are usually missing, and are often very much missed, pets provide a focus for emotions and affection – although cats and dogs may have been expected to earn their keep catching mice and rats, too.

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A working harbour: Waterfront change through Cazneaux’s ‘seeing eye’

Harold Cazneaux, 'A study in curves', 1931. Gelatin silver print. ANMM Collection 00054649.

Harold Cazneaux, ‘A study in curves’, 1931. Gelatin silver print. ANMM Collection 00054649.

Whatever pictures are made of our great Sydney today will in future years have some historical interest and value. As time marches on there will always be a ‘Sydney of yesterday’.

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It’s a Wrap: The Windjammer Sailors

What's wrapped up under the silk? Image: Andrew Frolows / ANMM.

What’s wrapped up under the silk? Image: Andrew Frolows / ANMM.

Last week saw a Christo-like wrapping of silky black satin on the wharf at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney’s Pyrmont. Intriguing and mysterious the form it enveloped was unreadable…

What could be under the silk? Well it’s an amazingly beautiful material, bronze. Used for millennia for public statuary, it is here applied to fuse old and new in an incredibly detailed and exacting process. This has produced a sculpture that explores something of the history of the site as a mercantile and maritime centre. Continue reading

Endeavour: Sailing and Sea Birds

Stephen Radley. Image: ANMM.

Stephen Radley. Image: ANMM.

A blog series from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Adelaide to Port Lincoln. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Growing up in Portland the bay was a constant in Stephen Radley’s childhood – swimming in the summer, watching the ships unload their cargo, trawlers returning with their catch and people sailing their yachts. One memory that remains of those days is that of the cray boats returning with their catch, cooking the crays right there on the wharf and then selling them still steaming.

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Endeavour: From Land to Sea

Sam Wilson. Image: ANMM.

Sam Wilson. Image: ANMM.

A blog series from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Adelaide to Port Lincoln. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Like his father, Donald, sailing did not play a large part in Sam Wilson’s childhood. However, unlike his father, the sea did play a major part in his childhood. Living in Bunbury a block away from the beach Sam spent a lot of time body boarding or just hanging at the beach with his mates. Watching vessels on the horizon and the yachts sailing up and down the coast became a fascination for him but joining them never entered his mind. It was during this time at the beach that he was unconsciously honing his ability to read the waves and the sea. An ability which would serve him later when the sailing bug took hold.

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Endeavour: Portland to Sydney, day 13

The voyage crew. Image: ANMM.

The voyage crew. Image: ANMM.

A blog series by Steward John Cowie from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Port Lincoln to Portland. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this. 

Day 13, 6th April 2016: Darling Harbour.

Early morning call this morning as we had to weigh anchor early to be at Darling Harbour at 1000. Weighing anchor a complex operation, particularly as the Bower anchor weighed 2.5 tons. Using a Fish davit, cathead and various tackles, the anchor was secured outboard as we motored past Georges Heights. Two and a half months of voyaging came to an end as we passed the first lines ashore on time.

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Endeavour: Portland to Sydney, day 12

Voyage crew heading to the Quarantine station. Image: ANMM.

Voyage crew heading to the Quarantine station. Image: ANMM.

A blog series by Steward John Cowie from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Port Lincoln to Portland. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this. 

Day 12, 5th April 2016: Quarantine Bay

The predicted thunder storms and squalls of 45 knots that were to come in from the NE last night failed to eventuate – the wind was very light and the thunder storms faded well before they hit the coast. Anchored in Quarantine Bay, Endeavour therefore swung with the tide and the each of the watches throughout the night only required one crew member. Morning greeted the ship with the sound of commuter ferries coming and going to Manly.

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Endeavour: Portland to Sydney, day 11

Sydney through the heads. Image: ANMM.

Sydney through the heads. Image: ANMM.

A blog series by Steward John Cowie from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Port Lincoln to Portland. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this. 

Day 11, 4th April 2016: At sea.

We were off Jervis Bay at 2100 last night when the rains came and the wind went further into the nor’east. Reluctantly, we brought the square sails in and motored on. Morning dawned, more rain, and squalls of around 25 knots, a low swell, and the EA Current still pushing us south at 3 knots.

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Endeavour: Portland to Sydney, day 10

Bosun. Image: ANMM.

Bosun. Image: ANMM.

A blog series by Steward John Cowie from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Port Lincoln to Portland. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this. 

Day 10, 3rd April 2016: At sea.

As the day dawned we were 35 miles off Batemans Bay and certainly not as far up the coast as we had hoped. After 6-7 hours of making good a consistent 9 knots, the wind dropped and our speed came back to 6 knots. Owing to our being in the East Australian Current, which flows south at 4 knots, our speed over-ground came back to 2 knots.

Since the current flows south and the wind was coming from the south, the seas overnight become short and steep and worked the helmsmen hard to maintain course.

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Endeavour: Portland to Sydney, day 9

Trio of terns. Image: ANMM.

Trio of terns. Image: ANMM.

A blog series by Steward John Cowie from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Port Lincoln to Portland. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this

Day 9, 2nd April 2016: At sea

During night the wind played with us going from N – NW – W so we wore the ship to keep the wind on our beam. By morning we were off Eden and had made 14 miles from where we were yesterday. No change in the sails and the modest winds moved us up the coast slowly adding to the 705 miles that we have already covered under sail.

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