Tag Archives: Lady Nelson

Sailing ships

Yesterday I had the pleasure of sailing around the Derwent River Harbour in a full scale replica of the Lady Nelson sailing ship.  The original was built in 1798 in England and plied the waters between Newcastle and Norfolk Island and Tasmania for the next  twenty five years.  My day on the water was glorious with blue skies, golden sunshine and a firm breeze. When all the sails went up, we scudded along at 7 knots.  Quite wonderful. The image below is of the replica in which I sailed.

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The water surface had an almost millpond quality as we returned to the wharf. I couldn’t imagine how sailing ships would cope with heavy seas.

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I spent a great deal of time thinking about earlier sailing ships and I tried to imagine what it might have been like, with so many ropes and so many sails being part of the picture for months at sea.

The Lady Nelson came out to Australia with around 20 people. The original crew size was 12.

Records show that at times there were perhaps 60 or more people sailing for days on the Lady Nelson.  Yesterday with passengers and crew I suspect our number was around 40. It was standing room only on the deck when all were assembled. Sailing for days would have been very cramped and most uncomfortable by today’s standards (although I recognise that people were generally physically smaller back then than we are today). Add to that, on the original Lady Nelson, the area below deck remained unstructured with one open hold. Apparently people slept on boxes and ropes and all.

My photos below give some idea of the majesty of a sailing ship however small (and it also shows how glorious it is to be out on the Derwent River in Hobart).

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The Lady Nelson was approx 53 feet long ,  approx 17 feet wide and weighed 61 tons. I have compared this with the larger ships that arrived in the Derwent River in the early part of the 19th century and so,  after yesterday’s most stimulating sail, I feel I have a small but greater understanding of what travellers (convicts and free settlers) might have been exposed to at sea before they started their comparatively mild run up the Derwent.

The Lady Nelson replica runs trips lasting a few days; I am considering taking one of these small voyages. Part of the deal, if you wish, is to learn to handle the ropes and even climb around the sails.  I wonder if the 19th century crews allowed such liberties to its passengers.

T42 on the Derwent River, Tasmania

When a friend suggested we meet for a drink and named the place, I said ‘yes’ immediately. The Tavern 42 Degrees South Elizabeth St Pier Hobart ,usually known as T42, is one of my favourite haunts on the Hobart wharves edging the Derwent River. Late afternoon and into the evening a couple of days ago I enjoyed sitting outside in the fresh air while sipping a sparkling wine or two and, all the while, watching yachts and other boats and ships come and go, as tourists and locals wandered around.  Exceptionally easy and pleasant.

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What does 42 Degrees South mean?  If you read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_parallel_south you can see a list of the countries through which passes the 42nd latitude south of the equator (most of it passes across oceans). Historically Tasmania has made a noise about this parallel in order to make it easier for people elsewhere in the world to locate our island.  It is celebrated in an outstanding quarterly periodical aptly titled TASMANIA 40oSOUTH. More information including subscription details can be read at http://www.fortysouth.com.au.  The stories and the photographs contained in each issue are nothing short of inspiring and glorious.

The tavern T42 on the edge of Elizabeth Pier, one of Hobart’s easily accessible wharves, also acknowledges Tasmania’s location in its name.  To reach the restaurant at the end of Elizabeth Street in the centre of Hobart, firstly you will see another well patronised restaurant, Fish Frenzy, then you walk either to the left or right and find T42 which has entrances both sides of the Pier.

I always prefer to walk on the left side where the Lady Nelson is often moored.

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Further along, another sailing ship, the SV Rhona H was sitting pretty.

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Relaxing comfortably at outdoor tables I did not realise my view was so visually obstructed as the following photograph seems to indicate. Instead I found the changing view enthralling.

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The skies were clouded but the atmosphere was not gloomy. The day was mildly humid and not cold.  The water was often mirror smooth and picture perfect.

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This was the place to be!  And I will return.

Walking along the wharves of Sullivans Cove, Hobart

On Stage 11, after walking along Hunter St, I turned right to walk along the Franklin Wharf street, and had the Derwent River on my left and an enclosure for fishing and other vessels to my right. The morning was fresh, the sun was shining and it was all together delightful. Not many people around. The mountain, clearly visible, looked down on the centre of Hobart and over the wharves. Clouds were reflected serenely in the water.

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A family of bronze sculptures, perched life-like on rocks on the River side, is much loved by visitors.

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Passing Mures fish restaurant on my right, I continued on until I could see the row of floating fish shops selling fresh and cooked fish and other seafood.

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A minute later, I was standing on the celebration platform used when the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race boats arrive. I looked across to Elizabeth Pier which contains accommodation, conference facilities and a number of eateries (where sitting outside is such a pleasure).  In the photo below the ‘tall-ship’ replica Lady Nelson sits outside the T42 restaurant.

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Opposite Elizabeth St pier, a number of buildings of different architectural styles and vintages line part of the street. Continuing to the other side of the Elizabeth St pier, a second tall ship, the Windward Bound offers sailing trips.

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On the next pier after the one in the photo above, a couple of the contemporary camouflaged MONA ferries sat either side within the slightly mobile surface of beautiful glassy water.  Taking a trip on these ferries down the Derwent to and from MONA (Museum of New and Old Art) located in the suburb of Berriedale (I walked through that on recent Stages) helps you to see parts of Hobart you would not normally see, and it gives you a perspective on the distances over which the Greater Hobart Area sprawls. It is interesting to reflect on the two extremes of water vessel technology, when you look at the 19th century sailing ship close by a state-of-the-art catamaran.

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These starting sections of my Stage 11 were colourful and tranquil. It’s a free, easy, stroll along the waterfront and there is much to see looking out onto the side of the Derwent River. The next posting on this blog will look at landmarks on the non-River side of the streets.

The birthplace of European Settlement in Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land): Risdon Cove

The start of my walk along the next stage of the Derwent River will be at Risdon Cove.

Earlier blogs explained how Lieutenant John Hayes, with two ships, entered the River and named it the Derwent in 1793. Twenty six kilometres upstream, while mapping the River, he saw an inlet on the eastern shore and named it Risdon Cove. Risdon, Risdon Vale and Risdon Cove were named after Captain William Bellamy Risdon. Risdon took command of the Duke of Clarence, the second ship that was part of Hayes excursion up the Derwent River.

Another decade passed before European colonisation began.

The Lady Nelson was the first ship to arrive at Risdon Cove in September 1803 when Lieutenant Bowen was sent from Port Jackson (Sydney area) to establish the first settlement at Risdon Cove, and rename it Hobart. As an aside, in the late 1980s a replica was built and the new Lady Nelson became well known on the Derwent River round Hobart. Currently locals and visitors volunteer time to maintain and crew the ship. Short sails are scheduled throughout the year for those who are interested. The website http://www.ladynelson.org.au/ provides further information, and has published the photo which I have reproduced below.

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Despite the recommendation of the explorer George Bass, Risdon Cove proved to be a bad choice for a settlement site because the soil was poor and fresh water minimal.

In early February 1804, Lieutenant Colonel David Collins arrived from establishing the first small settlement at Sullivan Bay in the state of, what is now known, as Victoria. Quickly Collins realised Risdon Cove was inadequate and ordered the relocation of the settlement to a new site at Sullivan’s Cove, the present wharf-front centre of today’s Hobart. By late February 1804, the military and convicts had been moved to Sullivan’s Cove on the western shore of the Derwent River.

How many settlers were there?

Gathering reliable figures for the numbers of people remaining at Risdon while Bowen was away sailing and exploring and once Collins had moved some of his people to Sullivan’s Cove has proved to be impossible. According to the reputable Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bowen’s landing party in 1803 numbered 49 persons in total including 24 convicts previously transported from England via Port Jackson (Sydney). The site http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/historyW.nsf/v-all/021976A07261DACBCA256EB400107431 declared that in 1803, 100 people were settled at Risdon Cove, so I assume that further ships arrived after Bowen later that year. The same website refers to “Collins’s expedition of more than 430 people.” Apparently by July 1804, Collins had ‘hutted’ 400 people on the western shore around Sullivan’s Cove and bays further along the Derwent River. Other reports indicate an unspecified number of people stole a boat and escaped from Risdon Cove, thereby reducing the number of people living in that tiny settlement.  I wanted to have a sense of the scale of the residents remaining at Risdon Cove in order to determine whether the settlers might be afraid of the aboriginals simply on the basis of being outnumbered.