May 27 - June 2, 2018: Issue 361

The Collaroy Paddle Steamer: New Ephemera Added To Public Accesible Records - Her Connections To Pittwater

For many decades after the wreck of the paddle steamer Collaroy on what was then called 'Jenkin's Cove', named after early settler James Jenkins,  articles that belonged to the ship have surfaced during storm events, some generations later. In 1950 a 24 foot length of chain was uncovered by storm seas, one of those used to anchor the vessel during salvage operations.

In 2001, the NSW Heritage Office located one of the Admiralty-pattern mooring anchors offshore, used to stabilise the stranded vessel.  In 2002, its search team led by Maritime Archaeologist Tim Smith, located another larger anchor of the Lt Rodgers Small Palm type.  This anchor and associated chain is thought to have been one of two located in 1963 by local diver John Whiteman, and photographed by Ben Cropp.

On Saturday October 20th, 1928 the anchor, which had been held by the Salvation Army, was unveiled at North Narrabeen (Narrabeen Lakes) public school and is still there.

The Collaroy P.S. ran aground at 4.15 a.m. on Thursday 21st of January 1881 in a fog, or sea haze, given the season. She was not refloated until 5.15 p.m. September 19th, 1884 according to newspapers of those days records of the Marine inquiry held afterwards and later reports published by 'Redgum'*. During those years she became a tourist attraction with many a person coming to have a look, have a picnic, and make sketches or take photographs.

Prior to that she visited Pittwater, offloading excursionists at Careel Bay on Easter Monday, 1862. Her first Captain, who brought her into our estuary, was the elder brother of George Mulhall, first lightkeepr at Barrenjoey when the 'light' then was a fire in basket at two ends of the headland.

In 2010 an article that would not have done too well out in the weather for that almost century and a half since that fateful night was been found and added to the records held for the public by the State Library of New South wales (The Mitchell Library).

The media release from the NSW Government's Office of Environment and Heritage issued on Monday, May 21st, 2018:

164 Year-Old Bill Of Sale For PS Collaroy At Home In The State Library

May 21, 2018: Minister for Heritage, The Hon. Gabrielle Upton and Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Don Harwin
Minister for Heritage Gabrielle Upton and Minister for the Arts Don Harwin have announced a restored historic 'bill of sale' for the mid-19th century paddle steamer Collaroy has been handed to the State Library of NSW for safekeeping and public display.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government and Heritage Council of NSW arranged for the 164 year-old document to be conserved and it will now form part of the Library's collection.

"I was proud to hand over the sales receipt for the PS Collaroy to the State Library of NSW," Ms Upton said.

"This is a very rare document dating back to 1854, and has links to the naming of one of Sydney's northern beaches suburbs and early Australian maritime history," Ms Upton said.

The story of PS Collaroy is an interesting insight into part of NSW's early colonial history, as it regularly transported passengers and cargo between Newcastle and Sydney.

Mr Harwin said the historic two-page document was a welcome addition to the collections already held in the State Library.

"The bill of sale is a valued resource for researchers, historians and the community," Mr Harwin said.

"There are very few surviving examples of these types of documents left in NSW and it is great news that it has been handed back to the public, to be housed and cared for at the State Library."

Member for Wakehurst Brad Hazzard said the PS Collaroy was memorable for its special role in naming part of the Wakehurst Electorate.

"In 1881 it was stranded in thick fog off Sydney's northern beaches, giving the suburb of Collaroy its current name," Ms Upton said.

A member of the public discovered PS Collaroy's bill of sale in a piece of antique furniture in 2010.

The International Conservation Services (ICS) was engaged by the Office of Environment and Heritage to undertake conservation works to restore the document. Picture: Rare shot of Collaroy ashore. Courtesy: Macleay Museum, Sydney University.

Picture: The Bill of sale between John Thacker and Cecil Daniell and the A.S.N. Company, dated february 4th, 1854 - the vessel didn't arrived until May 1st. Courtesy Office of Environment and Heritage NSW - and state Library of NSW - available online here - and here:

Contract of Sale for the paddle steamer Collaroy, sold by Thacker and Company to the Australasian Steam Navigation Company, Sydney, 4 February 1854, Image No.: c34064_0001_h page 1, courtesy State Library of NSW.

Contract of Sale for the paddle steamer Collaroy, sold by Thacker and Company to the Australasian Steam Navigation Company, Sydney, 4 February 1854 Image No.: c34064_0002_h page 2, courtesy State Library of NSW.

Below runs a few records Pittwater Online News has been collecting for years, just waiting for some new ephemera to be added to the records.

You can also download a NSW Heritage Office record, STRANDING OF PS COLLAROY, 1881- Investigation of features Collaroy Beach, Sydney. Tim Smith. Heritage Office. August 2002. (PDF)

Collaroy beached. Image No.: d1_20459h,  Courtesy: Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW. 

*‘Redgum’ was the pen-name or pseudonym of Jack G Lockley (Born: 1865 Sydney, New South Wales; Died: 18 May 1937 Sydney, New South Wales ) who started in the book trade working as a 'message-boy' for the Sydney bookseller William Maddock. He went on to manage the Sydney Book Club when it was established in 1895 and also edited the Amateur Gardener magazine. Mr. Lockley wrote gardening books, and using the pseudonym 'Redgum', 'wrote delightfully on gardening and kindred subjects for many years in the Sydney Morning Herald.'(James Tyrrell. Old Books, Old Friends, Old Sydney p.73).
The terrain of then near Collaroy on the seaward side - 'Curl Curl', circa 1880- 1890 Image No.: a1939010h From Album Mort family pictorial material and realia, ca. 1857-ca. 1910. Courtesy State Library of NSW
From the pages of the Past

Some of the earliest instances of the Collaroy are linked to Pittwater through her visits to Careel Bay and her first Captain, who was the elder brother of George Mulhall, the first Lightkeeper at Barrenjoey Headland

We learn that Captain Mulhall, of the Thistle, is to take charge of the now steamer Collaroy, and Captain Beal, of the Eagle tug, of the Thistle. SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. ARRIVALS. (1854, May 30). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 2. Retrievedfrom

William Mulhall - 1807/09 - to 1890


Right: William Mulhall, courtesy ~ State Library of Queensland : digital image collection ~ Portraits, Image No.: 195558 

The oldest inhabitant of Pyrmont is Captain William Mulhall, who resides in Harris Street. Captain Mulhall is a native of Parramatta, and was born on 2nd May 1808. He has been a resident of Pyrmont for more than fifty years. He commanded the first steamer brought to this colony - the Sophia Jane - and traded with her up the Hunter. He subsequently entered the A.S.N. Company's service, in which he remained for eight and twenty years. The captain who is still as brisk as a bee, and in the full possession of his mental faculties, recollects the time, more than seventy years ago it is, when Pitt street and Castlereagh street were full of tree stumps, and many a time has he stood and watched the convicts grubbing them out of the soil. Black fellows about Pyrmont in those days? said the captain to the writer. 'Any amount. They most frequented Benelong's Point, where the battery now stands. They had a big camp up there. Oh! I remember them well'. PYRMONT. (1889, July 25). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1881 - 1894), p. 19. Retrieved from 

The Collaroy arrived in Sydney, Australian waters, on Monday May 1st, 1854

The Collaroy (s.), built for Mr. Thacker, and lately purchased from him by the A.S.N.Company, arrived yesterday morning, after a passage of 113 days from Beaumaris, under canvas only. She appears to be a vessel of superior model, and admirably adapted for the inter colonlal trade. She reports the schooner Emily Harrison, from Glasgow to Melbourne, io latitude 37-50 8. and longitude 116-14 E., 135 days out ; also, sighted a screw steamer standing to the Eastward, In latitude 39-55 S. and longitude 13C-12 E. ADELAIDE. (1854, May 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

The Collaroy having been refitted will take her first trip to the Harbour about the end of the week. SHIPS' MAILS. (1854, May 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

The Australasian Steam Navigation Company's new steamer Collaroy went down the harbour on 5th inst., to enable the Government Inspecting Engineer to survey her previous to her being laid on as a regular trader to the Hunter, and the Directors took the opportunity of inviting a number of the share-holders and other gentlemen to witness her performance. 

She left the wharf about half-past two o'clock, and was twenty-eight minutes to the Heads: the wind was blowing in heavy gusts from, the southward, and a nasty chopping sea was running, but the Collaroy went dead to windward at about nine miles an hour, and went over the seas with a very easy motion. When she was about two miles out many of the passengers declared they were "quite satisfied," and began to look very uneasy, so that it was deemed, advisable to return into port. 

She then steamed up the harbour, and went round Cockatoo Island, where there was a large party with his Excellency the Governor General. She then went into Darling Harbour, and backed her stern, on close to the works proceeding for the erection of the Company's Patent Slip at Pyrmont, and after another run round Pinch-gut returned to the wharf about half-past five. The speed by the patent log was twelve knots, equal to fourteen geographical miles, on the average of two trials — one each way. 

The engines, have oscillating cylinders, are beautiful pieces of machinery, and worked very smartly. The paddle floats are on the feathering principle— that is, instead of being fixed on to the arms of the wheel, as in ordinary vessels, they are so hung that as they come out of the water they shift their position and become vertical, and present the edge only to the water, thus avoiding the heavy lift which wastes so much power: it is to this improvement that the absence of the vibrating motion, usually so unpleasant, is to be attributed. The saloon is lofty and well ventilated, and in addition to the usual sofa berths there are several small cabins for families; and on the whole she is admirably adapted for the trade. It has been before stated that this vessel was built for Messrs. Thacker and Co., by Messrs. Laird and Co., of Liverpool, the builders of the Clarence. She was purchased by the Company about two months since for £20,000, and, from, the advance which has recently taken place in the price of every description of iron manufacture, was undoubtedly a bargain. NEWCASTLE. (1854, June 12). The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 - 1860), p. 101. Retrieved from

The Collaroy, steamer, which left here on her first trip to Morpeth, on Wednesday last, arrived last evening after a passage of seven hours from the wharf at Newcastle, to the wharf at Sydney, against a strong gale from the S. W., with a heavy head sea running. On the passage down, going only at half speed, she had to heave-to off Newcastle, at 3 a.m.till day light, in consequence of it being so very dark.SHIPS' MAILS. (1854, June 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

LAUNCH OF THE GRAFTON.— Yesterday at noon, the paddlewheel steamer Grafton, for the Australian coasting trade, was launched from Mr. Laird's building yard, at Birkenhead. The Grafton is 145 feet long, 23 feet beam, 12 feet deep, and about 350 tons old measurement. She is to be fitted with engines of 300horse power, by Messrs. Forrester and Co., the cylinders being 41 inches in diameter and 44 inchec stroke. She is furnished with large boilers as the coal of Australia is not good, and she is designed, with this disadvantage, to carry a large cargo and several days fuel at 7 feet 6 inches draught of water. The Grafton has excellent accommodation for first and second class passengers. She is more strongly built than is usual in vessels of her size, having heavy frames, kelsons, beams, &c, to prevent any danger when taking the ground. Capt. Wiseman, a gentleman of great experience in the Australian coast steaming, who superintended and took out the Clarence to Australia about two years ago, has been sent home to have the Grafton built, the Clarence having proved so successful in all respects as to sell for £7,000 profit on her original cost, and is said to have amply repaid her purchasers at the price paid for her. The Collaroy, a similar vessel to the Clarence, by the same builder, sent out last January, was also sold, to arrive, for a large freight. The Grafton's engines and boilers being complete, they will be put on board this week, and she if expected to be ready for sea by the end of the month. The vessel is rigged as a brig. She was launched with her masts standing and her yards crossed, and she was successfully committed to the water. The ceremony of christening was entrusted to Miss Ellen Laird, a very young lady, who christened the Colla-roy, and as she was so successful a ship, Miss Ellen was elected to perform a similar honor to the Grafton. We may add, that this is the tenth vessel we have announced the launching of by Mr. Laird since January last, the aggregate tonnage of which amounts to 11,000 tons register, or as ships are advertised, twice 11,000 tons burthen, and comprising vessels of every size, from the miniature African exploring steamer Pleiad, constructed fer the sun-governed waters of the Niger and Tebudda, to the majestic ocean steamers. Nubia and Pera, of 2000 tons register each : an amount and variety of production which has no parrallel in modern ship building.— Liverpool Courier, August 2 . ELECTRICITY ON BOARD SHIP. (1854, November 6). The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 - 1860), p. 217. Retrieved from

To the Editor of the Empire

Sir- a letter signed James M'Clune, of the schooner Perseverance, reflecting upon my character, appeared In your Friday's publication, and as all such assertions should bear the stamp of truth, I took the first opportunity of communicating the real facts of the case. Perceiving on my going to Newcastle that the vessel was in distress, I went within hail and asked if they wished to be towed into port, the reply was Yes ; a warp was then sent on board. I then said you must give up charge of the vessel to me whilst towing you, otherwise I cannot take you. Captain M'Clune said he would not do so, and let go the warp. The Collaroy again steamed within hail, and the hawser was again sent on board. Captain M'Clune asked me what I would charge to tow him in.  I said that would be settled by the directors or arbitration; he Indignantly objected and let go the hawser.  

As to his statement that he offered very reasonable compensation, if he did so he must have spoke in a very low tone of voice, us no one on board the vessel heard him ; and I distinctly deny that I made any demand for salvage. I beg also to state that my orders from the Directors are that I am not to tow vessels at sea without their express orders ; and, therefore, what I did was on my own responsibility, and for the purpose of assisting the vessel, which appeared in distress, and consequently it was not in my power to fix any price. Trusting you will report this, I am your's obediently,


Steamer Collaroy,

2nd September, 1854

To the Editor of the Empire. (1854, September 4). Empire(Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 4. Retrieved from 

To the Editors of the Maitland Mercury.

GENTLEMEN-It is pretty extensively known that I have been in command of one of the Hunter River line of steamers over twenty years, the whole of which time it has been my study to avoid making statements of a personal nature; and by the observance of every possible precaution to prevent injury to others, have successfully passed through the whole above period without having occasion to solicit the favours of Messieurs Editors for a corner in their paper until the present, and will there-fore, without further apology, trouble you to give insertion to the following particulars of the collision-not having seen, or having any previous knowledge of the paragraph referred to, what Captain Barnes, of steam-ship Williams, has attempted lo do in his letter, but failed. On Saturday last, 7th instant, the two steamers arrived at Newcastle from Morpeth about the same time-the Collaroy at the new, and the Williams at the old wharf, blowing fresh from the W.N.W. After landing passengers and cargo, the Collaroy turned ahead, but, could not clear the wharf-reversed the engines, and was going out astern, and would easily have cleared everything ; when, strange to say, the Williams steamed down the channel, and came in collision with the Collaroy (although our engines were stopped), striking us on the starboard quarter, injuring the life-boat, splitting the quarter-deck rail, bending the awning stanchions, and doing other slight damage, which could easily have been avoided if common precaution had been observed.

It is well Captain B. mentions that be got a lead of 10 miles, as probably it will account for the surprise expressed at his being first in, although the Collaroy was nearly 2 feet deeper laden

I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant, WILLIAM MULHALL, Commander of steam-ship Collaroy. Morpeth, 13th June, 1856. To the Editors of the Maitland Mercury. (1856, June 14). The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893), p. 2. Retrieved from 



Sir-Permit me thus publicly to tender you my most heartfelt acknowledgment, and warm admiration of the prompt humanity which brought you alongside the Nora Creina, steamer, in answer to our signals of distress. 'Tis true the night was calm-for which God be thanked-and the danger less; still there was imminent danger, we were within 150 yards of that dread rocky coast, where the Dunbar met her fearful doom ; we were powerless, you drew alongside, took us in tow, and brought us safe to our moorings at the Phoenix Wharf ;for which humanity and marked urbanity, I shall ever feel most grateful, and ever retain the most lively and sensitive recollection.

I would also express my admiration of the prompt action of the pilots. They answered our second signal and five boats were with us within half-an-hour, but alas !what fearful disasters might not have occurred within that short space of time-though short, an age in time of peril.

The proper authorities will no doubt enquire into the cause and nature of this accident; I am not competent to give any opinion on the subject, except upon report, which I seldom rely upon, but if report speak truly, there is very great blame attachable to the proper authorities-or the engineer and Government Inspectors.

I am, Sir,

Your most grateful and much obliged servant,


Sydney, September 20th, 1857.

TO CAPTAIN MULHALL, STEAMER COLLOROY. (1857, September 30). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 5. Retrieved from 

WRECK ON THE COAST,-Captain William Mulhall of the A.S.N.C'o.'s steamer Collaroy, on ascertaining that a wreck was supposed to have taken place somewhere in the vicinity of Terrigal Beach, determined to examine the coast on his passage to Newcastle. When going down on Thursday last, he saw a spar sticking up on the surface of the water, but not having discovered it until he was some considerable distance from the place, he took the bearings of it, and determined to Inspect it minutely on his return to Sydney. When he came to the place on returning from Newcastle, he lowered a boat with the chief officer and four of the crew, who reported that it was the top-mast of a schooner or brig, but could not say which. The chief officer was of opinion that the spar was fast to the hull of the vessel at the bottom, but nothing that would lead to the name of the vessel was seen. The locality is about two miles from the shore off the rocks at Terrigal Head. Great praise is due to Captain Mulhall for his zeal In Investigating this matter, as it will no doubt be enquired into by the authorities. This is probably the vessel of which portions were seen floating between this port and Newcastle, and reported by the steamers trading to the Hunter, and also the same as that reported by the oyster boat some weeks since, portions of which were seen at Tuggerah Beach.-Empire, Aug. 29. SYDNEY SHIPPING. (1859, September 1). The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893), p. 3. Retrieved from 

One of the earliest mentions of the jetty at Careel Bay and the volume of excursionists, a popular pastime, bought to Careel Bay where the pastimes of the era were practiced, stems from one of the benevolent gestures of the largest landholder:

Yesterday, being Easter Monday, a pleasant steam excursion took place in connection with the St Benedict's Young Men's Society. The commodious steamer the Collaroy, under the command of Captain Mulhall, had been chartered for the occasion, and left the Australasian Steam Navigation Company's Wharf, Sussex-street North, with about 260 persons on board, at ten o' clock a.m. Part of the band of H. M. S. 12th Regiment were in attendance, their cheerful and untiring efforts contributing not a little towards making the day pass harmoniously and agreeably away. Working along through the ever changing scenery displayed on the shores of our harbour, the Collaroy at length rounded the Heads, and, taking a northerly course, rushed past that enormous barrier presented by the weather-worn cliffs which face the ocean between the Great North Head and the seaward aspect of Manly Beach. Following on the interesting coast line of Curl Curl, Dee why, Long Reef, and Narrabeen, &c, - varied succession of wooded eminences, long sandy reaches, towering precipices, and grassy park-like slopes, - the pleasure-seekers were at length abreast of the singular headland of Barrenjoey, forming the extreme south-eastern limit of the estuary which serves as a common outlet for the River Hawkesbury and the Pitt Water. Shortly after passing the Custom House station the course of the Collaroy then took a southerly direction, and so brought the holiday folks into the lake-like solitudes of Pitt Water, until wooded hills seemed to be rising on every side of the vessel.

The passengers were landed at a small, but commodious wharf, erected on the property of the Venerable J. J Therry, under whose especial patronage the excursion had been got up. Most of the visitors set off in quest of St. Michael's Cave, determined not to lose the opportunity of seeing so great a natural curiosity. The walk, it was found, lay through woods, a long flat, and a hilly scrub, until, facing to the east at the head of the inlet, the merry party, in a straggling Indian file, at length arrived in the vicinity of the cave, cautiously descending the rocks, and creeping carefully along a narrow path specially made for their convenience on the face of the cliffs, they were thus finally rewarded for their perseverance. Almost every body managed to scramble up into the cave, and not a few of the more adventurous explored its inmost recesses by candle-light. The effect of the gloomy inner arch looked down upon from the top of the second angle of the cave, was much admired; and so also was the wider arch at the entrance, as contemplated from the spot where the bright daylight again began to stream down upon the faces of the returning explorers. There was, for some time, a pleasant buzz of conversation and a discussion of food at the mouth of St Michael's Cave, and then the party set out on their way back to the steamer, where dinner had been prepared.

Some with sharpened appetites posted thither at once, but many remained with the band near the house on the flat, and amused themselves with dancing, playing cricket, and so on. There was some dancing also at the steamer after dinner was over. The Kembla steamer visited the wharf at an early hour, landed some passengers, and afterwards returned for them. The Collaroy left the wharf for Sydney at about five o'clock, and arrived safe at Sydney soon after eight. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Sydney, the Mayoress, and other members of the family were on board. We also observed the Rev. Fathers Corish, Curtis, Hanson, and Powell, besides the Venerable J. J. Therry. The trip appeared to give general satisfaction, although a slight shower, soon after the arrival of the Collaroy at Pitt Water, interfered with some of the arrangements.
PITT WATER. (1862, April 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

f.110 Mount Saint Patrick road to Broken Bay.: Image No.: a5894118h all three from album: Volume 1: Sketches of N. S. [New South] Wales, 1857-1888 / by H. Grant Lloyd, courtesy Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales - Mount Saint Patrick was the name for what we now call Bangalley Head - Mount Saint Mary, opposite, is where Stapelton park now sits atop this hill/'mount'. Visit John Collins of Avalon and Careel Bay Jetty and Boatshed

Maps from the period, especially that of the 1882 Sales brochure, show the jetty to extend from the front of land previously owned by Gaskin. A communal jetty for all visitors and those living there.

Careel Bay Pittwater [cartographic material] : township of Brighton, 8 blocks of land with ocean frontage 1882. MAP Folder 135, LFSP 2160 by Pritchard, W., courtesy National Library of Australia.

Stranding of the Collaroy.

The Newcastle Steamship Company's paddle steamer Collaroy did not arrive in Sydney from Newcastle as usual on Thursday morning, and the delay was accounted for by the dense fog which overhung the coast line in the vicinity of this port. Later on, however, a telegram from Manly announced that the vessel had run on shore while enveloped in the fog, but there was every hope of her launching on at high water.The Collaroy left Newcastle at the usual time on Wednesday night, and ran on shore on a beach close to Long Reef about 4.15 a.m. on the following morning. Fortunately the sea was comparatively smooth.Attempts to get the vessel off failed, and she remained firmly fast, with her broadside to the beach. The landing of the passengers, 40 in number, was successfully accomplished, and on the news reaching Manly several coaches were sent down by the road to bring them overland. 

Captain Hixson, president of the Marine Board, on being informed of the accident, at once telegraphed to South Head for the pilot steamer Captain Cook to proceed to the Collaroy's assistance, and that vessel steamed through the Heads at 20 minutes past 10 o'clock.The owners of the Collaroy acted promptly, in order if possible to save the vessel, and two powerful tugs and a diver were sent to the scene of the accident. Mr. Hunter, the N. S. N. Co.'s superintendent engineer, accompanied by Captain Anderson, of the Kembla, left Sydney for Long Reef via Manly, and remained by the Collaroy till dark last night. The company's superintendent-engineer (Mr.Hunter), accompanied by Captain Anderson, of the Kembla (belonging to the same company), arrived at the Collaroy overland by way of Manly, at a quarter past 4 o'clock, and pronounced an opinion that as the ship had made a bed for herself she could not be got off without some additional anchors and chains.The Prince Alfred, Newcastle tug, arrived at 5.30 p.m., and hove-to just outside the breakers. The wind had been blowing fresh from N.E., and just after the arrival of the above vessel it chopped into south, blowing strong, and causing a heavier break on the beach. Captain Thompson and a crew succeeded in launching the lifeboat from the beach and attempted to communicate with the tug ; when on the outer edge of the breakers a sea struck her, and she half filled with water, and fell off in the trough of the sea. The next roller sent her flying in towards the beach full of water, proving that communication by boat was out of the question.

Since the first inauguration of steam communication between Sydney and the Hunter River the steamships employed on the line have had a most fortunate career.There is only one instance of a total loss on the coast, viz., the City of Newcastle (s.), which went on shore set night time when making the passage hence here. 

The Collaroy, which now promises to be a total loss, is the second serious casualty on this line. She has had a career of some 25 years, unbroken by accident of any kind, and from her earliest days down to the present she has been regarded as a trustworthy sea-going craft, and did much for the profits and good name which the Australian Steam Navigation Company gained. Some two years ago she was purchased by the Newcastle Steam Navigation Company, and since that period has been steadily employed in the Newcastle trade, performing her trips with singular regularity at the rate of five per week. 

Some four months since she underwent extensive repairs; all her plates were bounded, and any that were thought to be defective were removed. She was fitted with a new superheater, new sponsons, paddle-boxes, funnel, and donkey-engine. The vessel is only partly covered by insurance, and should she break up it will be a serious loss to the company. The scene of the accident is about 6 miles north of Manly, and by a journey of some 45 minutes by coach from that place the Collaroy can be reached. She lies, with her head pointing south-south-east, on the southern end of a Iong beach that forms the segment of a circle, and stretches northward from Long Reef. Had the vessel hit the coast 100 yards further south she would have very quickly broken up. 

The place where she is onshore is the most sheltered in the locality. As the tide rose the sea beat her further on the beach, just where the low-lying road to Pittwater takes a sweep near the sea ; and had the Collaroy been able to get a trifle more than her length inshore she would have been athwart the Queen's highway. The vessel's position is tolerably well sheltered, as the extreme point of the reef bears about S.E. by E. from where she lies. Should the wind set in heavily from south-east, or indeed if a very heavy sea should break on the coast, the Collaroy will very soon go to pieces. The vessel bumped slightly throughout the day, but nothing to cause any fear of her breaking up ; when the southerly came on in the evening the surf broke more heavily, and as the tide began to make the vessel became more restless, and during the night would, no doubt, be driven higher up on the beach.At the time we are writing the wind is strong from south,and so long as it continues no attempt to float the vessel can prove successful. Last night Captain Thompson had a line run out from the Collaroy's stern to the shore, to serve the twofold purpose of keeping the vessel steady, and to enable the crew to abandon her, if necessary, during the night. 

The Collaroy had on board 14 saloon and 10 steerage passengers. The cargo comprised 7 bales wool, 170 bags potatoes, 200 hides, 40 casks tallow, 40 pigs, 30 sheep, and sundries. The live stock was landed on Thursday afternoon,and driven into a paddock close by the wreck.Captain Thompson has been for some years in the company's employ. He first joined the Kembla (s.) as second mate, and by dint of perseverance and hard work rose to the position of captain, and bears the name of a steady and reliable man.


In the course of an interview with Captain Thompson, on board the vessel on Thursday afternoon, he stated : The vessel left Newcastle at 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, and in fifteen minutes was clear of Nobby's, the night being beautifully clear and moonlight. The usual course, south by west, having been given to the chief officer, I wont below at half-past 2 o'clock, giving orders to be called when the ship neared Long Reef. The mate called me at five minutes to 4 o'clock, stating that he thought the vessel was off Long Reef, and at the same time reported the weather as thick ;I reached the bridge in a few minutes later, and he pointed out what he took to be Long Reef, on the starboard quarter, the land being barely visible ; I could not determine what it was, but it certainly looked like Long Reef ;the mate and myself were standing on the forepart of the bridge at 4.15 a.m. ; the ship was going at her full speed, about 10 knots, when the breakers suddenly became visible on the lee bow.The engines were stopped, turned full speed astern, and the helm put hard to starboard; the vessel, however, struck easily, the shock not being sufficient to cause any alarm among the passengers. The engines continued astern for nearly half an hour, but the ship remained fast on the sands, and slowly moved further inshore. Finding that she would not come off, the boats, which had been quietly got ready for launching, were lowered ; the lifeboat first,to land the passengers; the ladies and children were put into it, and all landed through the surf, without any accident, as the surf outside the breakers was very slight, and the landing was effected under shelter of the vessel. As the boats were unable to go close in shore, the lady passengers were either carried by the crew the rest of the distance, or waded through the water. In the early part of the morning we tried to get an anchor out in order to prevent the vessel from drifting further upon the beach ; the port anchor having been previously let go with 30 fathoms of chain, but it came home; the attempt to run the anchor out failed, as the life boat in taking it through the surf was stove, and the anchor was lost. When the first boat landed, a messenger left for Sydney, to request assistance, but it was half-past 11 o'clock before the Commodore bore down on us, she having accidentally discovered the vessel's position; I sent the second officer with six men to take the life-boat through the surf, in order to communicate with the Commodore, but after four futile attempts, I took charge of the boat, and succeeded in getting to the Commodore; the boat, however,nearly filled in getting through the surf; a small line was then taken from the Commodore to the Collaroy, and afterwards a new hawser was made fast to the bitts on the quarter. In the meantime the Mystery came up from Sydney, and having made fast to the Commodore, both tugs steamed ahead, and at the third heavy strain the hawser parted. I then wished to again go off in the lifeboat in order to get the hawser on board, but the crew refused to go with me. The Commodore then left the scene, and was soon afterwards followed by the Mystery.The Commodore revisited the locality in the afternoon but nothing could be done as the tide had receded.


Mr. Drew, the chief officer, states : The Collaroy left Newcastle on Wednesday night at 11 o'clock for Sydney,in company with the Hunter River Company's steamer Morpeth ; both vessels kept company up to about 4 a.m., when the haze that had prevailed thickened into a dense fog, and the Morpeth was lost to view on the port quarter about half a mile distant ; I relieved the second officer, Mr. Henrick, half way between the two ports, receiving the usual orders and course,south-by-west. by standard ; when half-way across Broken Bay the fog increased in density, and I called the captain,who came on deck immediately'; the loom of the land was then visible to the south of Broken Bay, and suddenly I saw breakers on the starboard bow ; simultaneously the vessel grounded ; Captain Thompson gave the order ' Go full speed astern, and starboard the helm.' The order was promptly executed, but the ship refused to respond to the action of the engines, and gradually worked herself nearer the beach. There being no immediate possibility of the vessel coming off, attention was at once turned to the safety of the passengers. The starboard lifeboat was manned by myself and a crew of four hands ;the ladies, numbering half-a-dozen, and an equal number of children were hastily got into the boat ; after three or four trips all the passengers were safely landed, together with the whole of their luggage. In the meantime the second officer and a portion of the crew succeeded in lowering the dingy from the port side during the running of a heavy surf, which broke up against the ship's side.Immediately after the passengers landed, we got the lifeboat under the starboard bow, and got the starboard anchor and line in the boat to run out seaward, but after several efforts could not succeed, as the surf was very heavy, and we had therefore to cut the anchor away from the stern of the boat.During this time the dingy was pulling ahead of the lifeboat, to be in attendance in case of an accident ; on the return of the dingy before the surf, a heavy sea ran over her; she capsized, and the occupants — two men — had a severe struggle in the surf for some minutes, till picked up by the life-boat ; one man, named Wilson, narrowly escaped drowning, having been seized with cramp. The attempt to get the starboard anchor out having failed, the port one was let go,and 30 fathoms of chain payed out, still the ship dragged shorewards, the anchor not holding. The receding tide gradually left her quiet, the sea beating on the port side, the dry beach being on her starboard side. At 11 a.m. the Commodore (s.), Mystery (e.),and Captain Cook, from Sydney, arrived on the scene ;Captain Thompson and his boat's crew pluckily pulled off through the heavy surf, and conveyed small lines from the Commodore; a 13-inch hawser having been hauled on board and made fast to the bitts, all was ready at 1 p.m.,:and three steamers being fast one to the other they commenced to tow, and after pulling for ten minutes the hawser parted, and the attempt had to be abandoned'.

Stranding of the Collaroy. (1881, January 22 - Saturday). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 152. Retrieved from 

Wreck of the S.S. Collaroy, 1881 / photographer unknown. State Library of NSW Image No: a1528938: A passenger steamer owned by the Australian Steam Navigation Company, built in 1853, went ashore on Collaroy Beach in 1881 and remained there for almost 3 years, giving her name to the stretch of sand and ocean. When refloated she went back into service plying between Sydney and the Hunter River. She was withdrawn from duty in 1886, converted to a schooner, sailed to San Francisco, where she again ran ashore and broke her back on the Californian Coast in 1889.

The Stranded Steamer Collaroy.

The term 'ill fated' seems, unfortunately, to be becoming more and more applicable to the stranded steamer Collaroy. For twenty-five years this vessel braved winds and waves successfully ; but the reverses of fortune have cot in against her, and she is stranded in such a position that it is questionable whether she will get properly afloat again. All who travelled in her spoke of her most favourably as a quick good sea boat, in which they could journey with pleasure ; and all regret the disaster which has befallen her. During the past week hundreds of persons proceeded to Long Reef to see her. 


Her position has not changed very materially since Saturday week(22nd ult.), but circumstances transpired which for a brief period favoured the belief that she would be released from her peril. On Thursday and Friday mornings (27th and 28th ult.) the high tides set her afloat in her bed ; and it was resolved by Messrs. Brookes and Goodsir, of Newcastle, who contracted to endeavour to get her off, to attempt on Saturday to pull her into deep water. Accordingly, preparations were made Friday afternoon (28th) to set to work on the following morning. The Bungaree, the most powerful tug procurable, was brought from Newcastle with an anchor and 150 fathoms of chain cable. When the tide rose on Saturday morning (29th), the anchor, with one end of the cable attached to it, was sunk some distance from the shore, and the other end of the cable, having two strong purchases on it, was attached to the steam winches of the Collaroy. A tremendous strain was put on the cable; and, for a few moments, it seemed as though the steamer would be literally dragged over the sand surrounding her. The winches, which must be of admirable construction, did their work so effectively that the bows of the Collaroy were shifted thirty feet from where they had been lying ; but the breakers, running high, drove them to their old position, and increased the strain on the cable so suddenly and immoderately that it snapped asunder. After some deliberation it was resolved, on account of the rough sea and the receding tide, to delay further operations until the following morning (30th), when it was proposed to procure a hawser in place of the chain cable, and endeavour to pull the Collaroy off with that. In the meantime the waves beat mercilessly on the vessel's sides, and it was thought would break them in. 

On Sunday morning the hawser was attached to the anchor and the winches, in the same manner as the cable had been, and a strain was put upon it sufficient to move the bows of the steamer seawards for about twelve feet, when, like the chain, it snapped asunder. Then occurred the most unhappy incident that has taken place in connection with this mishap. The sea ran high, and while Captain Thompson and five men were 'tending' the hawser, it swamped their boat and sent them adrift. The boat was dashed to pieces; and although Captain Thompson and four of the men succeeded, after much exertion, in reaching the shore, the fifth man was lost, having, it is supposed, been entangled in seaweed, which grows abundantly in the vicinity of the rocks. Efforts were made to save the unfortunate man, but they were unsuccessful. The deceased was formerly engaged on the Collaroy as one of her crew, and known by his mates as Hercules, which, it appears, was his Christian name. It was said that he was a native of the Shetland Islands, and about thirty-three years old. His death cast a gloom over the little band who have been working so earnestly to get the steamer afloat. When the hawser, which had been so much relied upon, snapped, the efforts to move the Collaroy were abandoned. All the efforts made on Sunday to get the Collaroy into deep water proved ineffectual, although the chances of their being successful were considered good. An attempt H was made to tug her off by means of a hawser attached to the windlass bitts, but when the bows had been drawn seawards a short distance the bitts broke, and she resumed her former position. The hawser was made fast to the shaft of the steamer, and a strain put upon it to prevent the waves drifting; her farther up the beach, but the tide receding, and the vessel consequently settling in her bed, rendered a continuance of the operation B unnecessary. The gale which blew on Sunday night did not damage the Collaroy, but raised a very lively sea. 

On Monday afternoon the body of the sailor — Hercules Dalziel— drowned on Sunday morning, was washed ashore within a few yards of where it disappeared. It was observed being borne inwards on the crests of the rollers, and as it B neared the strand it was seized by some of the men. The face was bleeding slightly as though it had struck the rocks or beach, but otherwise no disfigurement was discernible. The hands were clenched, and the arms bent stiffly over the body, but no marked expression of pain was apparent in the features. The body was carried tenderly by the man's mates to a grass plot near at hand, where it was covered with a sail, and information of its recovery was at once conveyed to the police at Manly. It seems that Dalzicl, with four of his mates and Captain Thompson, was engaged in laying a hawser for the anchor, and running a small line ashore, when the boat he was in capsized. Several of the party narrowly escaped drowning. One man, who, like Dalziel, could not swim, was fortunate enough to grasp a pair of oars, by which he was enabled to reach the shore. Captain Thompson could swim, but was thrown into a quantity of seaweed. This clung around his legs so tenaciously that fl he could not free himself from it; but before his strength became exhausted, a huge roller extricated him and carried him to a position of safety. Each roller tossed the men about as it would so many corks, and its frothy crest partially smothered them. On Monday evening the contractors and their men succeeded in laying a 5-inch wire hawser 140 fathoms in length, and a 9-inch hempen hawser, in connection with an anchor of 25 cwt. The task was one of exceeding difficulty, for the rollers were unusually heavy, and it was thought a boat could not live in them. The men, however, managed their boat admirably, although in danger of being swamped, and they brought the line to the Collaroy early enough to admit of it being placed in readiness for operations on the following morning. They also pumped the steamer clear of water placed in her to steady her, and relieved her of superfluous weight, and on Tuesday very early the Bungaree and the Idea prepared to tow her off. but were prevented doing so, the heavy surf precluding the possibility of a boat carrying a line through it. At 9 o'clock, the tide being favourable, the hawsers were heaved on and stood the strain upon them so well that those in charge had the satisfaction, of witnessing the Collaroy's bows being drawn seawards about eight feet. Heaving operations were suspended at 11 o'clock, and shores consisting of heavy logs of timber made firm against the bows to prevent them reverting to their former position. But the Collaroy is now threatened with a danger made very apparent as she was bumped about in her bed by the waves. The concussions she sustained appear to have injured her rather seriously. Water and considerable quantities of sand which came through leaks in her plates were found in her, and two leaks were discovered, one ot which was in the forehold and the other in the afterhold. It seemed also as if there were a leak still further astern, for quite a stream of water was observed running from that direction to the afterhold. It is possible to stop the leaks, but further concussions may increase their size and number, and should Messrs. Brooks and Goodsir be enabled to turn the steamer's bows directly seaward, she will still have to be dragged over a long stretch of sand. Over this heavy rollers break, and it is feared they will cause the steamer to bump so heavily that her plates will give way. As the tide did not float the Collaroy on Wednesday, no efforts were made to get her off, and the contractors have suspended operations until the next high tides. A heavy sea broke over the beach, but the steamer was not injured by it. She lies deep in a bed of sand, and for the time being has the appearance of being safe. The Stranded Steamer Collaroy. (1881, February 5). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 216. Retrieved from 

Above from book, The Newcastle Packets and the Hunter Valley by J. H. M. ABBOTT. sydney 1942. Book available in full online here

Stranding of the Collaroy
THERE are few steamers better known on the eastern coast than the Collaroy ; and when the news of its stranding near the Long Reef, with which not a few Manly visitors are familiar, reached Sydney, it was at first received with expressions of incredulity, such is the high reputation which the vessels of the Hunter River Company have obtained for immunity from maritime disaster. But the evil tidings were unfortunately confirmed by later accounts, from which it appeared that the vessel had helplessly gone ashore during a heavy fog. The passengers, however, were successfully landed and sent on to Manly, six miles north of which is the scene of the disaster. Here the Collaroy lies, with her head pointing south-south-east, on the southern end of a long beach that forms the segment of a circle, and stretches northward from Long Reef. Had the vessel hit the coast 100 yards further south she would have very quickly broken up. The place where she is on shore is the most sheltered in the locality. As the tide rose the sea beat her further on the beach, just where the low-lying road to Pitt-water takes a sweep near the sea ; and had the Collaroy been able to get a trifle more than her length inshore she would have been athwart the Queen's highway. The vessel has had a career of some twenty-five years, unbroken by accident of any kind, and from her earliest days down to the present she has been regarded as a trustworthy sea-going craft, and did much for the profits and good name which the Australasian Steam Navigation Company gained. Some two years ago she was purchased by the Newcastle Steam Navigation Company, and since that period has been steadily employed in the Newcastle trade, performing her trips with singular regularity at the rate of five per week. Some four months since she underwent extensive repairs ; all her plates were sounded, and any that were thought to be defective were removed. She was fitted with a new superheater, new sponsons, paddle boxes, funnel, and donkey-engine. The vessel is only partly covered by insurance, should she break up it will be a serious loss to the company. The master and mate have had their certificates suspended for three months. 

Stranding of the "Collaroy.". (1881, February 19). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872), p. 16. Retrieved from 


It will be remembered that some three years ago the steamer Collaroy, belonging to the A.S.N. Co., ran ashore on the coast near the Narrabeen lakes while on a voyage from Newcastle to Sydney. The task of getting her off was considered to be such a difficult and costly one that the insurers sold her for £400, although she was found to have sustained no internal or external damage whatever. The company to whom she originally belonged offered £3000 for her as she stood, alongside the wharf at Sydney. Three separate attempts have been made to get her off, but from some cause or other each of them has failed. 

One enterprising contractor, with a large expenditure of time and money, dug the vessel out of the sand, leaving her in a species of dry dock. He then commenced to cut a deep canal from the ship to the sea, intending to flood the dock, and to get her off into deep water by the canal. But one night the whole scheme was frustrated by a storm, which filled up the canal and dock and drove the ship higher up on to the sands, where she lay neglected until she was bought by Mr. Robertson, of Botany, for £200. This enterprising gentlemen has been working at her for several weeks, and hopes to get her off by means of launching ways. His plan seems to be to excavate around and under the hull, and then to raise the ship by means of hydraulics, staging all around as she gradually approaches the surface of the sand. 

Already the ship has been freed from the sand, and the task of raising her with hydraulics is proceeding at the rate of about 14in per day. When her keel is level with the surface an attempt will be made to slue her round head seaward, and to run her down into deep water in the same manner adopted for launching a ship. So far the work has gone on successfully, but whether the ship will be ultimately got off, or   whether this attempt is destined to fail like all the others, yet remains to be seen. Whatever may be the final result, there can be no doubt that the courage and enterprise of this man who undertakes so difficult a task, after so many failures, deserves to be rewarded by full success.The Steamer Collaroy. (1884, June 5).Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), , p. 3. Retrieved from 

The news of her wreck where she could not be salvaged, with a few inaccuracies, but a record nevertheless and where once again a fog is ascribed as the reason for her loss:

Mr. Alexander Burns, timber merchant, of this city, and owner of the Collaroy, received a cablegram yesterday advising him of the total loss of the vessel and her cargo on the coast of California. The news of the safety of the entire crew was also included in the message. In the loss of the Collaroy, a name very intimately associated with the early history of steam shipping on the coast of this colony, loses its representative. The days of the Rose, Shamrock, and Thistle in the trade to the Hunter River take rank with the first pretentious steamship enterprises established between this port and the flourishing town of Maitland. 

In 1859, when the Collaroy was launched to the order of the A. S. N. Company, and was soon after placed in the Hunter River trade, followed by the Coonanbara, two or three years later, it was considered that the commerce between the two ports was assuming a decidedly important position, reminiscences of which many residents here and throughout the colony will call to mind upon learning that the old Collaroy has at last made her final voyage. It will also be recollected that this same erstwhile fast mail and passenger boat came to grief in later years at Curl Curl, near Manly. 

This was in January, 1881. After a dreary lay-up on the beach there until the month of September, 1884, she was recovered and brought to Sydney. 

After a time she was taken in hand by Mr. Burns, and converted into a four-masted schooner. Under this rig she made a capital round trip from Sydney to San Francisco, to Puget Sound and back to the home port. At the time of her loss she was on a voyage from Sydney to Humboldt Bay, British Columbia. She left here on the 24th of April last with a cargo (500 tons) of West Wallsend coal, and was to have loaded a cargo of redwood back to Sydney. The message received by Mr. Burns is dated from San Francisco, and it states that the schooner has broken up and the cargo is lost. Vessel and cargo are insured in the Canton Insurance office here. The supposition is that the wreck is due to the prevalence of dense fog on the Californian coast.  

The vessel was in command of Captain Ball, and her crew is wholly composed of Sydney men. She was built at Liverpool by Fawcett and Preston in 1859, and fitted as a paddle steamer, with engines of 140 horse-power, 2 cylinders 42in. and 36in. diameter respectively. Her dimensions were :-Length, 180ft.9in. ; beam, 23ft. 3in. ; depth, 11ft. 1in. Her gross tonnage is given as 419 tons, net tonnage 264 tons. From those particulars it will be seen what changes have taken place, and what strides have been made from the steamers of the Collaroy class to the Namoi, the Sydney, and the Newcastle of the present day.  TOTAL LOSS OF THE COLLAROY. (1889, July 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from

Newcastle Trader Goes Ashore OVER THREE YEARS ON BEACH
(By Redgum)
ARE your people all aboard, Ned," asked Dave Francis, skipper of tug Commodore, of the captain of. the Nimrod Fishing Club, who was with him on the bridge. "We're all aboard," was the reply, and five minutes or so later the 40 amateur fishermen, with their bags and their bait, were being hurried down the harbor as fast as the crack tug Commodore could take them. The day promised to be it good one. Only a light air was drifting in from the north-east. Fish were plentiful in those days. The Nimrods were all expert linesmen. Every member of the club had good sea legs. '
At the lightship the chief engineer joined the skipper on the bridge. "There is no sign of her yet, Dave. I thought we might have met her limping home after we had rounded Bradley's." 
"No such luck. I expect Thompson bus piled the Collaroy somewhere high up and dry." 
Every pound of coal that could be shovelled on the fires was thrown in. The firemen and the deck-hands were all in the know. Only the Nimrods on the main deck were worrying about light tackle and leaden sinkers. The tug's crew had visions of a big game of salvage with the Collaroy, one of the best known of the Newcastle traders. 
Dee Why was abeam under the hour. Still there was no sign of the paddle-wheel passenger steamer. Not many minutes afterwards the Commodore was dead east of the green hills and golden sand on the shore side of Long Reef. The chief was now on the bridge again using the skipper's glasses on every yard of the headland and beach.
"What about hanging off here for a try, skipper?" asked the captain of the fishermen. All his company were waiting. Lines were ready and hooks, were baited.
Five minutes afterwards fish were coming aboard fine and fast. By ten o'clock all lines were ordered aboard, and the Commodore headed away to the nor'-east. She was then a point or two north of the reef. Calling a deckhand to take charge, of the wheel, Francis took up his glasses and scanned the coast on his own account. 
The engineer was again by his side. Two minutes later, as they opened out the whole of Long Reef Beeach, the Collaroy was seen. 
"There she blows!" cried all hands almost in the same breath. There was no need now for glasses. Her long while funnel, square stern, clipper bow and paddle-box were all too well known and too close. 
In-shore the tugboat headed at once. All the fishing lines abaft the bridge were rolled up and bagged. The big hawser was the only gear likely to be of any service now. Dave Francis and his crew had no further time for small goods or gains. They were first on the scene. The salving of the Collaroy was their Job — if the line and their luck would only hold. All this, happened over 41 years ago on Thursday morning, January 29. 1881. The Collaroy had left Newcastle in company with the Morpeth at 11 o’clock on the night previously. At 4 In the following morning the voyage ended abruptly on a sandy beach in a haze or fog. Ono of the reports printed on the following morning says that "had she been able to travel a trifle more than her own length in-shore, she must have been athwart the Queen's highway." 
Ned Thompson and his ship were In trouble. The Collaroy was piled high up on the beach on a flood tide — and there she was to stay for a long time. No trouble was experienced in landing the few passengers. At low tide it was possible to walk half-way round the ship. That was the position in which Francis, of the Commodore, found the Collaroy six hours after the grounding.


Once the line was made fast to the Collaroy the two tugs and the pilot steamer tried hard to haul her off. No hawser made could stand the strain. Five minutes saw the first operation through. Other lines were run aboard, but no good was done. After three hours of battling the Collaroy was left to her fate, the Mystery and the Captain Cook returning to Port Jackson and the Commodore, with the amateur fishermen, going north to the grounds off Barrenjoey, where two hundred snapper were caught before the day was through. Several attempts were made to shift the old ship back into her native element, and a lot of money was lost in unavailing sand-moving schemes. The Collaroy was to stay there on the beach as the centre of attraction and the playhouse for anyone who cared to travel northward along the road to the seven-mile post. Some of the anchor-chains are still hidden in the sand. Fishermen visiting the beach over the week-end- made themselves comfortable in the steerage. The old watchman was always pleased to have a boarder or two on holidays and Sundays. The boys and girls of the day took flying leaps into the soft sand from her high paddle-boxes, and made a  swing of her anchor-chains; and Jim Black, the coachman, who for years ran the Pittwater mails, always had a good story for the entertainment of .anyone who had the good fortune to be holding the box scat beside him. 

Narrabeen at that time was virgin seaside. Miss Jenkins, who owned the old cottage at the back of Florence House, the present Salvation Army Home, and many acres as well, was the only resident on the roadside. Mr. Wheeler, on though southern end of the lake, was her nearest neighbor. Collaroy, as a seaside resort, came into prominence only when Mr. Arthur Griffith, who was Minister for Works at the time, had the tram-rails put down. That act, and the taking of the water main to the lakeside, made Narrabeen, and added enormously to the vacant lands within easy distance of the sea beaches. But all that belongs to another story. If is only with the Collaroy that I am concerned to-day. After several changes of ownership, the old vessel was taken over by a Botany soap and candle maker, who employed an experienced foreman shipwright to superintend the shifting operations. A set of ways were built  under the steamer bit by bit. The ways wore double-greased, a tug was engaged to take the sea end of the tow-line, and away went the old-time crack Newcastle trader into the sea again. I have not been able to find the date that the ship want, back Into the water. But it was some time during September or October 1884. Thus, she was ashore for about three years and a half. Boilers and engines were taken out and sold. Then she was rigged as a four-masted barquentine. Several trips were made by her under sail to and from the Pacific Slope. Eventually the old timer again missed her way, and this time left her bones on a rough, rock-bound section of the coast of Southern California. But her name will last. Collaroy Is now one of though prettiest and most popular of the many seaside Jewels on the nearer coastline. WHY IT IS CALLED COLLAROY (1922, September 3). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from 

Mr. Redgum has another go:

Old Collaroy's Luck.
(By "Redgum.")

Of all the old steamers that were used 'over a long term of years in the Newcastle and Hunter River trade, none is likely to occupy a more honoured place in the annals of the coastline than the popular and commodious Collaroy. 

Though an inmate of Davey Jones's Locker, Californian Coast section, for more than 50 years, she occasionally comes back - in spirit, of course - to her old haunts on the southern end of Long Reef Beach, now known as Collaroy Beach, where for a long time she lived in retirement from sea-work while the blue waves did all In their power to coax her back to the ocean again. She will keep on doing this so long as the name Collaroy clings to one of the most popular beaches north of Sydney.

High and Dry.
Other more speedy and more popular steamers did better for their home ports and owners than the favoured 419-ton Liverpool built paddle-wheeler, that came to Fort Jackson early in 1854 to carry the honoured red and blue flag of the old A.S.N. Co., without leaving anything but a few memories behind them.

The Collaroy ran ashore early on the morning of January 21, 1881, while on a voyage from Newcastle to Sydney. Someone had allowed her to wander off the charted course that was set well outside Long Reef, where she had been travelling day in and day out for 27 or 28 years; and before the error of judgment could be rectified, the vessel had run almost high and dry on one of the safest and softest of the beaches between North Head and Barrenjoey. 

Night Drama.
Good fortune more than good seamanship was responsible for the choice of her resting place. Jenkins's little cove was just such a place as mermaids and sea sirens would select for one of their old ship friends to rest in.

Carrying the flag of the Newcastle Steamship Company, the vessel had rounded Nobby's in company with the Morpeth, a rival of about her own power and speed, at a little after 11 o'clock the night before, and was engaged In the usual race for Darling Harbour, where their home wharves were situated. She was due to leave for Newcastle again punctually at 9 o'clock on the same morning to run the day trip to the Hunter, and had no time to spare bothering about sea fogs, bad visibility, or anything of that sort. She was within a length or two of the beach before anyone had any idea of where the steamer was heading. She finished her last run under steam power so close to the road that the "Sydney Morning Herald" report said, "Had she been able to travel one more length the vessel would have been athwart the Queen's Highway."

First-hand Story.
Some years ago I had the good fortune to hear a first-hand story of that eventful happening from the able seaman who was doing his trick at the wheel when the vessel went ashore. "Don't blame anyone," he said. "Had the Collaroy swum? to seaward at the time I obeyed Captain Thompson's command to put the helm 'hard a* starboard,' something more serious might have happened. Captain Thompson had a very narrow squeak on the Sunday after the grounding, while running out an extra anchor with a full boat's crew. The boat was capsized in the surf, and all hands had a battle with the breakers and the seaweed. Horace Dalziel, a seaman, lost his life through being entangled with the heavy marine growth. That was our only fatality."

Messrs. Brooks and Goodsir, of Balmain, made several attempts to float the vessel, but were not successful. For three and a half years the Collaroy held her position broadside on between the road and the ocean. Thousands of tourists tramped the seven miles between Manly and Narrabeen to get a look at her. At the week-ends fishermen camped aboard the ship, using the steerage or the saloon according to their fancy.

The Refloating.
About June, 1884, Mr. John Robertson, a soapmaker, of Botany, thought out a plan for placing a set of ways under the vessel with a view to launching her. A lot of time and money was spent on the work. Hydraulic Jacks and the ship's steam winch were used so effectively that good progress v/as made. Several steel hawsers, lent by shipmasters then in the harbour, were sent down to help the optimistic and energetic soapmaker to do what expert salvage men had failed to accomplish. Captain G. P. Gates of the P. and O. mall steamer Rome, and the captain of the wool clipper Crown of England, were among John Robertson's admirers who lent tackle for the work.

On Friday, September 19, Captain Smith, in the Leveret, ran into Narrabeen to see If he could be of any assistance to Mr, Robertson.

"Come back again at 5 o'clock this afternoon, when the tide will be at the full," Mr, Robertson shouted through his megaphone.

By 5.15 p.m. of that afternoon the Collaroy was slithering down the ways into the water to the accompaniment of ringing cheers from all on board the vessel, with an extra round for the plucky soap-boiler.

Sold for a Song.
But the salving of the Collaroy did not profit her new owner, as he had hoped. He was forced to sell her for a "song."

I saw the Collaroy many a time while she was trading on the coast, and well remember what she looked like after being converted into a three-masted schooner by Mr. Alexander Burns, a timber merchant, who put her into the Puget Sound oregon trade. During 1889, the old vessel missed her steps again, and became a total loss on the Californian coast.

I now keep in close touch with the old steamer by occasionally knocking the rust off a cast-iron firebar that was found near the original surf shed at Collaroy Beach some seven or eight years ago after a heavy storm had played havoc with the seashore. SEA FORTUNE. (1937, January 16). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 13. Retrieved from

The first version of the Daily Telegraph runs a report too, with numerous inaccuracies - but great pictures of Collaroy in 1927 or thereabouts:

How Collaroy Got Its Name
(By J.G.L.)
COLLAROY, one of the prettiest and most popular beaches and waterside villages on the Manly-Broken Bay ocean front, took its name from an old- time Newcastle trader that went ashore on the southern end of the beach, just about where the surf house now stands.  The old paddle-wheeler was well known in Sydney. She carried the flag of the Newcastle Steamship Co., who also owned the speedy Kembla and the Boomerang. On the night of January 29, 1881, commanded by Capt. Thompson, the Collaroy left Newcastle with a ' few passengers and a very little cargo. Her gross measurement was only 410 tons. With 150 passengers aboard she would have been more than a full ship.
Things went well on the run down the coast until the officer on watch lost sight of the South Head light .When that happens on a south-bound trader between Barrenjoey and Long Reef disaster is not far away. 

Just about daylight the crash came. Before any one on board knew what was happening the steamer had slipped through a line or two of the breakers, and was heading full tilt for the sand and the seashore. Had the seaman who was at the wheel at the time tried to select a safe landing place for the passengers, he could not have done much better. 

When the tide went down all hands walked ashore. There was no excitement and no experience worth recording until several of the castaways called upon one of the only residents within a mile of the stranded steamer in search of milk to help make a better pot of tea for the lady passengers. "Get off the premises, or I will sool the dogs on you," was all the sour-souled owner of a nearby large estate had to offer the shipwrecked people. 

Neither milk nor human kindness was to be had on that section of the coast-line. News of the wreck did not reach Sydney until about midday. The road to Pittwater was a lonely highway 36 years ago, when the old Newcastle trader went ashore. 

It was Captain Ned Francis, of the tug Commodore, who was heading north at the time with a big company of deep-sea fishermen aboard, who first saw the steamer as he opened out Long Reef beach, the chart name of what is now known as Collaroy and Narrabeen. Captain Francis was not long in deciding to see what he could do for the skipper of the stranded Collaroy. All the fishing tackle was packed away, and every man aboard made ready to lend a hand. The Commodore's two tow lines were soon aboard the steamer, and every possible effort was made to get the ship back into the ocean. Not a budge! 

Later in the day the Mystery came up the coast to assist the Commodore. Several lines were broken before the tug skippers threw up the job and got back to port. How the fishermen enjoyed the day I cannot say. Perhaps they had an hour or two off Deewhy and landed enough "red fish" to decide who was to pocket the sweepstake for the best catch of the day. 

For almost three years the Collaroy was a familiar object to all the travellers using the Newport Road. The coach proprietors and the owners of 1 the old "sociables" made many ' a sovereign while she lay there. At the week-ends and over the holidays fishermen and sportsmen who travelled far afield for amusement made for the steamer and spent the night time in the comfortable saloon or steerage Quarters. The watchman was always willing to accommodate customers for a small fee. 

After several unsuccessful attempts to refloat the vessel she was handed over to a Balmain shipwright, whose name I have not been able to trace. That man was certain he could put her back into the water. And he did put her back. By some means a set of ways were built under the steamer, and she was very easily towed to sea. That work was done some time during October of 1884. 

Someone bought the ship on her return to Sydney, took the engines and boilers out, and rigged her as a barquentine. In that disguise the Collaroy did a trip or two across the Pacific, carrying coals for 'Frisco, and returning home with lumber from Puget Sound. But she did not last long in the lumber trade. She was over 30 years old when the riggers finished and was no condition to fight her way across the oceans with decks awash and her old sides rattling. Her only sea worries were experienced on a 65-mile voyage between North Head and Nobbys. That was just play to a smart old paddle-wheeler. Wallowing in the rolling billows of a bigger blue ocean soon broke her heart. One fine day the end came, and the Collaroy foundered off the Pacific Coast. 

But her name will live a long time yet. Many a pretty surfer, many a happy toddler, many a bronzed life-saver, and many a big, blue wave will iomp and- break on the lovely ocean front where the Collaroy left her name.

The Old Collaroy 

Collaroy to-day is one of our most popular seaside resorts. The local surfing and life-saving clubs are pictured above, and three of the members can be seen ready for a joy-ride on their surfing boards. How Collaroy Got Its Name (1927, October 23). The Daily Telegraph(Sydney, NSW : 1883 - 1930), p. 20. Retrieved from 

Worth including, since it's mentioned;

Collaroy on the Sydney side of Narrabeen, is one of the most popular of our beaches. The lifesaving club has now been provided with a fine, well-equipped club-house, which was officially opened by Mr. Parkhill, M.P., on Saturday. The Camera As a News Recorder (1927, November 23). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), , p. 19. Retrieved from

The Manly, Warringah, and Pittwater Historical Society recently suggested to the Warringah Shire Council and the Collaroy Beach Progress Association that the spot at which the steamer Collaroy went ashore, and from which Collaroy beach derived its name, should be suitably marked. The Collaroy Beach Progress Association has now informed Mr. P. W. Gledhill, honorary secretary of the Historical Society, that the association is in sympathy with the proposal, and suggest that an inscribed tablet should be attached to the wall of the new club-house of the Collaroy Surf Club, which will be erected immediately opposite the spot where the Collaroy went ashore.

The Collaroy was a paddle-wheel steamer, and went ashore near Long Reef in a dense fog on January 20, 1881. The vessel lay high and dry for more than two years, and was  then refloated and converted into a schooner. In June, 1888, the vessel was lost off the coast of California. COLLAROY BEACH. (1927, August 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved January 3, 2014, from


It is proposed to attach an inscribed tablet to the wall of the new club house of the Collaroy Surf Club, to be erected immediately opposite the spot where the Collaroy went ashore at 4 a.m. on January 21, 1881. WRECK OF THE COLLAROY ON COLLAROY BEACH. (1927, August 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from

Of course among the 'relics' from this vessel still present in the landscape along that Collaroy to North Narrabeen stretch is the one we all see when passing the little school where so many good things happen:

Nearly 50 years ago the paddle-wheel steamer Collaroy went ashore on the southern end of Narrabeen Beach, and ever since that portion of the beach has been known as Collaroy. For many years past the anchor of the Collaroy has been in the possession of the Salvation Army at Narrabeen, and it has now been decided to hand over the relic of the wreck to the Manly, Warringah, and Pittwater Historical Society. The society intends to mount the anchor in the grounds of the Narrabeen Public School, which is only a short distance from the scene of the stranding of the Collaroy.
The Collaroy, which was a vessel of 402 tons, had a chequered career. She went ashore at Collaroy on January 20, 1881, and remained on the beach until September, 1884, when she was refloated. The Collaroy was then rigged as a schooner, and was wrecked on the coast of California in June, 1889.
COLLAROY BEACH. (1928, August 7). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

Collaroy, sow one of the most popular surfing beaches In the Manly district, owes its name to the stranding on the beach of the Newcastle Steamship Company's paddle-wheelsteamer Collaroy. Nearly 50 years ago the 402-ton steamer, while on her usual ran from Newcastle to Sydney, went ashore on the southern end of Narrabeen Beach, and ever since that time the beach has been known as Collaroy.

On Saturday, thanks to the efforts of the Manly Warringah, and Pittwater Historical Society, and to the interest of the Narrabeen Parents and Citizens' Association, and the headmaster of the local school (Mr. W. L. Ross), the anchor of the little vessel,which has been mounted In the grounds of the Narrabeen School, was unveiled by Mr. W. J. Stelzer, president of the Narrabeen Parents and Citizens' Association. Other speakers Included Councillor Greenwood (representing the Warringah Shire Council), Mr.P. Vi. Gledhill (Manly Historical Society), Mr.W. L. Ross (headmaster), and Adjutant Ballard (Salvation Army).

For many years the anchor was In the possession of the Salvation Army at Narrabeen, and recently It was decided to hand over the relic to the Manly Historical Society.

The Collaroy had an eventful history, having met with disaster on two occasions. The vessel was built at Liverpool, England, in 1858, and was registered at Newcastle (New South Wales) in 1879. She traded between Sydney and Newcastle until January 10, 1881, when the steamer went ashore on Collaroy Beach. The vessel remained on the beach until September, 1884, when she was refloated and reregistered in Sydney. In 1888 the vessel was again registered in Sydney as a schooner, and In the following year was wrecked on the coast of California. At that time she was owned by Mr. Alexander Burns, timber merchant, of Balmain.

The Collaroy in command of Captain Thompson left Newcastle on the night of January 19 1881. During the run down the coast the vessel became enveloped in a dense fog and ran ashore on the beach close to Long Reef at a quarter past 1 o clock on the following morning The sea was comparatively smooth but various attempts to float the vessel failed. The vessel remained firmly on the beach broadside to the shore, and the passengers and crew numbering 40 were landed safely In those days the Collaroy district was not easily accessible and it was some hours before the news of the stranding of the Collaroy was received In Sydney.

It was not until 12 hours after the vessel went ashore that officials of the Newcastle Steamship Company arrived overland at the scene of the wreck but in the meantime the late Captain Francis Hixson then president of the Marine Board had telegraphed to South Head (communication by telephone was not then possible) and ordered the pilot steamer Captain Cook to proceed to the Collaroy's assistance.
The Captain Cook referred to was of course, a predecessor of the present pilot steamer, which was built in 1893. Several tugs from Sydney and Newcastle were also despatched to the scene of the stranding, but all efforts to float the vessel were unsuccessful
The Collaroy was driven further ashore. The Sydney Morning Herald of the time stated that "had the vessel hit the coast 100 yards further south she would very quickly have broken up. The place where she is onshore is the most sheltered in the locality. As the tide rose the waves beat her further on the beach Just where the low lying road to Pittwater takes a sweep near the sea and had the Collaroy been able to get a trifle more than her length Inshore she would hale been athwart the Queens highway".
After some time the vessel was temporarily abandoned and remained on the beach for nearly three years. The stranded steamer was visited by many people during the time she lay on the beach and henceforth the name Collaroy was bestowed on the spot. COLLAROY. (1928, October 22 - Monday). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from

REFERENCE was made in the 'Mail' recently to the wreck of the steamer Collaroy on what is now known as Collaroy Beach, near Sydney. An interesting relic of the wreck and of the history of the now popular surfing beach is shown in the accompanying picture of the anchor of the vessel, which is now mounted in the grounds of the Narrabeen Public School. 

The Collaroy, a vessel of 402 tons, traded between Sydney and Newcastle until January 20, 1881. On that date a dense fog enveloped the ship and she ran ashore on what is now known as Collaroy Beach. All the passengers and crew were landed safely. At one period the vessel was only a little more than its length away from Pittwater-road. The ship remained on the beach until September, 1884 — nearly three years — when she was refloated and again registered in Sydney. For many years the anchor of the Collaroy was in the possession of the Salvation  Army at Narrabeen, and it was handed over to the Manly, Warringah, and Pitt- water Historical Society, and later erected as a memorial on October 20, 1928. The Collaroy became a total wreck in California in 1889.— 'Storico.'

Relic of an Old-Time Wreck.
A SURVEY & SOME OPINIONS (1936, July 8). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 6. Retrieved from

Collaroy Was Well Known In Newcastle 
Heavy seas on Collaroy Beach, Sydney have uncovered a 24ft. length of cable believed to belong to the ship Collaroy, wrecked in 1894. There can be no doubt that the chain belonged to the ship; but high and dry as she remained for three years, she was refloated, then wrecked in another part of the world. The Collaroy is a link with almost a century of shipping on the Australian coast.
When the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company was dissolved in 1851, a reconstructed enterprise the Australian Steam Navigation Company, was incorporated. It took over the assets of the other company and became one of the most important shipping concerns in Australia. New steamers for the company were the paddleships Telegraph, IIIalong and Collaroy, and the screw steamers City of Sydney, Boomerang and Wonga Wonga. The Telegraph was lengthened in Australia by 28 feet-a remarkable feat. All were engaged in the Newcastle trade. Built in 1854, the Collaroy became stranded at Narrabeen early in 1881. Collaroy Beach took its name after her. Mr. W. E. Alexander, principal of F. and H. Langwill Pty. Ltd., Newcastle shipping agents, had even then some interest in the ship. His father, the late Captain W.G. Alexander, was entrusted with the job of refloating her. 

Lost at Mauritius
"He very nearly succeeded," said Mr. Alexander. "I was only a looker-on, with others of the family. We lived for some time on board the ship, which my father had several times floated. The third time, before the tugs could arrive, a southerly sprang up, and the ship got back to her position. She was subsequently refloated, but not by my father. He had given up the job.
"She was converted into a sailing vessel, brought to Newcastle and filled with coal. She engaged in the trade for a time only, to be lost at Mauritius in 1899."

Mr. Dickason Gregory had a drawing of the Collaroy in his collection, published in London in 1928. The painting showed the ship on the Narrabeen Beach with a stout cable attached amidships, and extending to an anchorage in the bush.

Mr. Alexander said the chain probably snapped. The 24ft. length just recovered would have sunk in the sand, which had hidden it for more than 60 years.-W. B. McD. 
Collaroy Was Well Known In Newcastle. (1950, December 29).Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , p. 4. Retrieved, from 

Another Collaroy - Long Reef wreck:


The Marine Board sat yesterday afternoon. Captain Hixson presided, and there were also present,-Captains Broomfield, Jenkins, M'Lean, and Moodie.

Charles Matherson, master of the Rose of Sharon, was summoned to show cause why his certificate should not be suspended. He was represented by Mr. F. P. Wilkinson. The vessel, which was a coasting steamer of 78 tons, owned by W. Hudson, was wrecked off Long Reef on February 28.The President said that the Board wished Captain Matherson to answer two points, that of carelessly navigating the vessel, and that of leaving the deck without any competent person in charge. Mr. Wilkinson said that the vessel was a small coasting steamer;under the 81st section of the Navigation Act it was provided that vessels under 100 tons should carry a master and a second engineer; they were not obliged to carry a mate; it could not be expected that Captain Matherson should stay on deck the whole day and night himself ;he had been on duty from 6 o'clock in the morning until 1 o'clock tho next morning, and was then under the necessity of taking rest ; he left the vessel in charge of a sea-man named Donald M'Gregor; this man had been with him for two years, and had always previously been found to be trustworthy; he knew how to steer, and had the course given to him; had it been followed everything would have been safe; but it was not followed, and M'Gregor was the person who was to blame, and not the captain; had there been a mate on board, and had the accident happened during his watch, the captain would not have been to blame; if the board held that the capatin was wrong, then the Act was wrong, because he had fully carried out the law; he did not see how the board could possibly find him guilty, although they might suggest some alteration in the law if they thought desirable; had Captain Matherson not given M'Gregor the course he would have been in the wrong, but the fault was, having had the course given to him, the man did not keep it, but allowed the ship to go astray; although the vessel did go on shore no lives were lost; there was some damage done, but not as much as generally occurred on these occasions, and this was probably owing to the great exertions made by the captain afterwards ; the owner was present and was williug to be examined as to Captain Matherson's character. The President remarked that they had seen Captain Matherson's testimonials, and also knew that his character stood high as a seaman.

Mr. Wilkinson said that under these circumstances it would not be necessary to give any further evidence.The President said that the board could not altogether acknowledge the right claimed by counsel in the matter.He wished it to appear that because a captain had not got a certificated man on the ship, that therefore he could leave any person, competent or incompetent, in charge. But that would never do. A captain's responsibility on his ship never lapsed. It would be a pretty state of things if it did.

Taking into consideration Captain Matherson's able testimonials, and recognising that there was no loss of life and very little damage, due to a great extent to his efforts, they would not deal with his certificate, but would severely reprimand him, and caution him to be careful as to his conduct in future.

The Board then held an enquiry into the loss of the schooner Energy, on the Clarence River, on the 29th February. S. R. Savory said that he was master of the Energy before she was wrecked; he held a certificate of service in New Zealand ; she was a three-masted schooner of 185 tons, and of Australian build; he owned a third of the vessel, and C. B. Stone and W. H. Brown were also interested in her; both these gentlemen were insured, but this trip he was not; the vessel had become a total wreck ; he was on voyage from Melbourne to the Clarence ; there were nine seamen, all told, and no passengers : he arrived off the Clarence bar on the evening of the 27th ; bad weather set in, and he had to go to sea; the weather moderated, and he was making his way back to the Clarence; the bearings he took gave him a position of five miles off Evan's Head; there was a four-knot breeze on, with a little swell from the southward; he found they were getting nearer shore than he liked, and tried to turn the ship, but she would not come round, and drifted on to the land ; she missed stays twice ;he had been master of her over four years ; she was properly trimmed and ballasted, and had always turned well before; the Clarence light was in sight all the time; there was a heavy current running, and it was this that drifted the ship on to the shore' F. Hughes said he was mate of the Energy when she was lost; it was his watch below; the captain called him on deck to let go the anchor; he did so in from eight to ten minutes before she struck; she dragged the anchor; everything possible was done to try and save the vessel. R. Smith, who was acting as second mate, attributed the accident to the ship missing stays twice and the wind falling light. James Webb, able seaman, gave corroborative evidence. The board announced that they found that the Energy was lost through of missing stays twice and consequent dragging, but there was no evidence upon which to found a charge of default against the Master. MARINE BOARD ENQUIRIES. (1887, April 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from 

A Bit of Old Pyrmont.
(See illustration on this page.)
The accompanying Illustration shows Darling Island, on the west side of Darling Harbour, Sydney, when, it was In the, hands of the Australian Steam .Navigation Company, which for many years was the premier steamship company of Australia. Looking 'back, at the success of that great company, we many a time wonder how it was ever possible for such a business to have passed out of the hands of Sydney people. The ships were of the best and always improving, and 'their reputation was such as any company would have been proud of; while their captains, officers, and men were equal to every call of duty. Many of the most gallant deeds done on the coast are to be credited to this great company.

The Darling Island, or rather peninsula, of today, with Its great grain sheds, Its network of railroads, and Its long, straight line of concrete wharf, alongside which square-rigged ships of all nations are just now unloading their big cargoes of North and South American grain, is not the "Darling Island" of 1871. Times have changed, and man has so altered it, that no one acquainted with its early appearance would ever take it to be one and the same place. At present there is not even a trace of its former greatness. Everything, even to the smallest, detail, has been altered, as if it were the policy of the present owners to thoroughly blot out a something altogether unworthy of remembrance.
The old "Island" was one of Sydney's earliest Industrial landmarks, which deserved , a fate somewhat different from that which has befallen it. It was; indeed, a monument to the ability of the early managers and tradesmen of the A.S.N. Company, and as such is deserving of more than a passing remembrance. There are many of the old residents of Pyrmont, who will never forget the days when their "Island" was in full swing, employing something between ten or twelve hundred hands at manual labour alone.. They were Pyrmonts palmy days, when money was free and work so plentiful that none went without. The hammer and the anvil rang out merrily from morn till night, and the clatter of the expert rivetters, as they hung over the side of one of the old Intercolonial traders, or paid their attentions to a new boiler in the sheds, went on all day long. Shipwrights caulked away filling the seams with oakum, tightening decks, which were then the homes of master mariners whose names are still house, hold words among the skippers of the port.' And when the great steam hammer got going on a big "heat," how she thumped it into shape. Hitting with a mighty force, that old hammer welded many a crank or propeller shaft that served the company honourably and well.

These things are now no longer there. The present business of Darling Island is quite of a different kind. There were sheds In the old time, and trolly lines, too. There were stonewall wharves, as well. But the sheds of the picture are totally different from those of to-day. They were grimy and black from the smoke of the fires that burned within them. The iron roofings were rusted and broken through long service, and the narrow gauge trolly ways, heralds of the railroads of to-day, ran here and there through the workshops, carrying freights In everyway different from the freights that are handled there now. Half-a-dozen men usually supplied the motive power for those early A.S.N. railways.
The A.S.N. Company, then registered as the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, was established in 1839, with a capital of £40,000, for the purpose of trading only with the Hunter River. As the colony grew, the company grew with it. It was not until some years later that the name was changed to the A.S.N. Company. Year after year of successful operations led them from one success to another, until within a comparatively short time the A.S.N. Company stood firmly established as the premier shipping company of the continent, with its ships running all up and down the eastern and southern seaboards, as a connecting link In the fast-growing civilisation, bringing mails, passengers, and cargoes from almost every Australian port. To Fiji, to New Caledonia, to Now Zealand, to Tasmania, their vessels ran, winning for themselves reputations and records which took a lot of beating. Occasionally, when anything went wrong .with the delivery of malls from either 'Frisco or Singapore, the company's vessels were dispatched to bring the belated news home. When the Panama service failed, in 1808, several of the A.S.N. vessels were chartered to take up the early running to San Francisco, In which trade the City of Melbourne and Wonga Wonga did excellent service, prior to the coming of the Zoalandln and Australia, and the two "cities" that were here before them, so well-known in the Pacific mall work. It might be truly said that no flag was ever better known In Australian waters than the old red and blue diagonal of the A.S.N. Company. It was really the Union Jack of the colonies, and was kept in the vanguard of Australian-owned shipping, from the day the Rose, under the command of Captain Seaward, carried it proudly into the harbour of Port Jackson, until the day on which two-white diagonal bars were added by the representatives of the present A.U.S.N. Company in 1887.Though somewhat changed by this addition, the old flag remains with us still, as the hall-mark of an honourable shipping company, which acquired the property, as well as the trade of what was at' once our oldest and best.

The vessels in the Illustrations are some of, the old fleet up for repairs. 

 Above - same as 1903 article ASN Darling Island. Image No.: a5621001h, courtesy State Library of NSW. 

The paddle-wheel steamer at the wharf is the Yarra Yarra, built in 1851, and sold some time after, 1878, to Captain Sommerbell, and employed as a collier in the Newcastle trade, and eventually lost on the Oyster Bank, inside Nobby's, where, in all probability, she still has a representative plate or two In the heap of rusty steel and iron which has of late years been accumulating there. On the slip for repairs is the Wonga Wonga, or the City of Melbourne. Opinions differ over this vessel. The Wonga Wonga was condemned, and broken up in 1880, after being on the active service list since 1854, In which year she was built to the order of the A.S.N. Company. The other paddler wheel steamers are the Illalong and the Lady Bowen or the Lady Young. These vessels were of the same tonnage-442-and were purchased In the same year, the former being sold In 1882,and the latter being broken up in 1881. They were among the vessels which did some of the best of that days Intercolonial trade., and, In doing it, they made big dividends, and sometimes fair bonuses for shareholders and employees. The wharves of the company were then on both aides of the the foot of Margaret street, the Newcastle trade being done by the old Coonanbarra and Collaroy, from an old wharf which formerly existed on the site of Huddart, Parker, and Company's present substantial structure. Some time later, if we can hunt up a picture of the Collaroy or Kembla, we hope to refer to those early Newcastle traders. At the wharf on the other side of Margaret-street, though not distinguishable in this picture, lies the Hero, one of the early New Zealand traders, with the Balclutha and Boomerang, then engaged in the Queensland trade. Every ship in this picture has floated her last. They all did the work for which they were built, and, having worn thin, and got out of date or unseaworthy, they either fell In harness before the fury of the unbending wave, as In the case of the Balclutha, or were dismantled and disgraced through no fault of their own, and broken up. This breaking-up process, even though the old iron goes through the furnace for renewal, is not the happiest of endings for an old ship that has seen good service. To pull safely through many a hurricane, and to cast off many a hard-hitting sea, only to come at last under the hammer of the auctioneer at "Fraser's Mart," and, worst of all, to be towed to a resting place on one of the harbour beaches, to be fired and broken asunder piece by piece. Possibly many of the old ships knew the doom awaiting them, and preferred, rather than be disgraced by total dismemberment, to fall, beaten at lost, by the elements against which they had battled so bravely all their life long.

Darling Island in the Early Days.

Ship by ship the old company added to its fleet, building and buying to suit the ever-growing trade. Returning to the days of inauguration, we find that it was In 1846 that the first settlement was made on Darling Island, which, in those days, was quite surrounded by water. As the works grew, the refuse and ash heaps extended the area of the island, until some time after the date on which our Illustration was taken, the last trace of the one time channel had disappeared. The original outlay on works cost the company £111.This included the purchase of land and the erection of wharf and boiler shed.

Pyrmont must then have been a very long was out suburb to have been. of so little value. The bridge had not yet been built, and the only means of getting to the works was by pulling boat, or round by the Haymarket, through the bush of Ultimo, to the scrub-covered Pyrmont on the extreme end of which the A.S.N. Works were located.

The fleet began with the purchase of the Tamar, a vessel about which we can find no other reference than that she was purchased in 1840. Her size is indicated by her tonnage, 130. Next came the Rose, of 122 tons register, in 1841,This vessel was followed by the Thistle, of 175,and then the Shamrock, of 211 tons, the last named ship being built for the company on the Clyde. Her steaming time from. the land of her birth was 123 days!

These steamers were considerably smaller than many of our present-day colliers. Of their speed we can find no record. They must have been fairly easy to handle, as in the absence of any slip or dock, they were beached for cleaning and painting on the southern beaches of Darling Harbour.

Late in 1841 it was proposed to open up communication and trade with Moreton Bay, the company advertising their intentions of doing this "if sufficient inducements offered." In December the Shamrock was sent north with freights at 20s a ton, and fares at £8, £6, and £4 respectively. Over this action the directors got into trouble with the shareholders, who considered it a violation of the deed of settlement, inasmuch as that document granted permission to trade only to the Hunter River and the ports adjacent. In defence of their action, the board took counsel's advice, appealing to Mr. Broadhurst, Q.C., who was then one of Sydney's most prominent legal lights, and on the strength of his opinion, combined with the views of other lawyers, the act on of the directors was upheld. The question in dispute was whether Moreton Bay was adjacent to the Hunter. Counsel and the nautical experts said it was. After that there were no more disputes, Five months later the Shamrock was withdrawn, owing to the trade proving unremunerative. For the chart of Moreton Bay presented to the company by a Mr. Dixon a free passage was given.

A year later, in 1842, Melbourne Town, as it was then known, was thought of as a field of operations for the future efforts of the company. This was decided upon on July 30, 1842;but on the following day the board thought better of their decision, and came to the conclusion that, "as at this time of the year it would be dangerous,' as well as unprofitable, to send the Shamrock south, she be continued on the Moreton Bay run for the present." In the following year, under more favourable conditions, this "pioneer" steamer carried the A.S.N. Company's flag into Hobson's Bay. Twofold Bay, Melbourne Town, and Launceston were then the three ports of call.

The big slip at the "island" on which we see a vessel up for repairs was opened in 1855. It was in this same year that, owing to the P. and O. Company abandoning the existing mail contract, the company proposed to the Sydney and Melbourne Chambers of Commerce to carry out the service to Singapore with the Wonga Wonga and City of Sydney.

In 1855 the fleet consisted of the following ships:-City of Sydney, Wonga Wonga, Telegraph, Governor-General, Boomerang, Yarra Yarra, Waratah, Shamrock, Illalong, Collaroy, Thistle, Tamar, Ballarat, Samson, Eagle, Rose, Ben Bolt, Brisbane, and City of Melbourne.

For several years after 1855 dividends of 10 percent, were declared. When times1 were exceptionally good an extra bonus of 5B was given.

Seven years after the establishment of the Pyrmont works the Ballarat, the first vessel built by though company for their own use, was launched, that would be In 1853. In after years many others were laid down and finished In those busy yards. During 1862 the Yaamba and two riverboats were completed and sent to do the business of the company in Queensland.

The A.S.N. Company's works have the honour of constructing the first colonial-built man-of-war. Of what she was like we can find no record. "A gunboat for the New Zealand Government was built, and launched during the month of July, 1863." The Leichhardt followed next, getting into her element some time in 1864.

Speaking of the Leichhardt carries us back to' an earlier time when Dr. Leichhardt made application to the company for a passage to Moreton Bay. In the letter conveying the request, Dr. Leichhardt, stated "that he and a party of men were about undertaking an explorating expedition to Port Essington." It was resolved that this application be granted. The spirit of generosity seemed always uppermost in the early days of the company. Anything that could be done for the general good of the young colony was done readily and in the proper spirit. Towards the patriotic fund inaugurated at the time of the Indian Mutiny, 200 guineas were voted. Free passages were often given to the Volunteers of the Hunter River towns to attend parades before the Governors of the day; and in 1861 the board tendered the services of their vessels for the purpose 'of towing the Burke and Wills irelleí steamer, then on her way to the Gulf of Carpentaria,* free of cost as far north as these ships' braded.

Time and space will not permit us following the doings of the company any further In the present issue. Possible on another occasion we may have an opportunity of again returning to it. In 1887 the whole assets of the Australasian Steam Navigation Company were disposed of for a sum of £676,500, which returned to the shareholders the whole capital of £20 per share, and. this notwithstanding the fact that at the time the negotiations were opened the market value of the shares was only £9 10s. Mr. F. Phillips, appointed secretary in 1867, was the company's last servant, and to him Mr. James Ewen, then chairman of directors, paid a very high and complimentary reference as he ended the speech which explained the details of the sale, and dropped the curtain on one of the brightest as well as the most interesting pages in the annals of colonial shipping. A Bit of Old Pyrmont. (1903, June 17). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 35. Retrieved from

John Thacker

Captain John Thacker (Known as 'Jawing Jack') was a regular trader between China and Australia from at least 1834; Janette Holcomb, inEarly Merchant Families of Sydney: Speculation and Risk Management on the fringes of Empire (Anthem Press 2014.) reports he was making regular trips between Sydney and Hobart delivering tea by 1840. 

When those who had set up these routes went back to England he stayed on, accumulating more business interests. He and his family settled permanently in Sydney Town in 1842.

On the 8th of January last, at his residence, Kensington, London, passed away, in his seventy-seventh year, Thomas Dyer Edwardes, once merchant in Sydney in partnership with Mathew Dysart Hunter, who predeceased him. The subject of this notice afforded an example of the rewards which patient industry often achieves for its possessors. Mr. Edwardes, left an orphan at an early ago, quitted his native town, Shoreham in Sussex, when only thirteen, and went to the West Indies, intending to follow the sea, but abandoning this intention, proceeded in 1827 to China, where he entered the house of Jardine, Matheson, and Co., in whose service he remained till 1832. 
In the course of this employment he visited Sydney in 1829, to open an agency, which done he returned to China, re-visiting Sydney in 1833, with Mr. Hunter. The house then established, continued under various changes of style arising from retirements and deaths, in the names of Edwardes and Hunter, M. D. Hunter and Co., John Thacker and Co., Thacker, Daniell, and Co., Daniell, King, and Co., now George King and Co., to hold prominent position in the mercantile ranks
On his retirement from the firm of Edwardes and Hunter, Mr. Edwardes went to England and became one of the founders of the London Chartered Bank of Australia taking large interest also in the Australian Agricul-taral Company, and various other Australian land companies, and in the National Bank of Ireland. Devoting his latter years to philanthropy and art, he enriched many hospitals and charities, notably the Chelsea hospital for women; and the South Kensington Museum had the free use of many of his art treasures; nor did our old fellow colonist forgot the land where his wealth's-foundation was laid, giving the site of St. Mary's Church, Waverley, and parsonage, and contributing to beautify the interior of the church. Mr. Edwardes re-visited Australian in 1844 and again in 1873, to superintend the realisation of his Melbourne property, since which time he resided in Europe. 
The liberalities of Mr. Edwards, public and private, still admitted of his leaving a fortune of £280,000 among children. Mr. Edwardes' remains were interred in Broadwater Churchyard near Worthing, beside those his wife who predeceased him in 1851. DEATH OF AN OLD. COLONIST. (1885, March 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

Government Gazette
Tuesday, October 31. His Excellency the Governor has been pleased, to appoint John Thacker, Esquire, of Sydney, to be a magistrate of the territory and its dependencies. Government Gazette. (1843, November 4). Morning Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1843 - 1846), p. 3. Retrieved from

Director: THE AUSTRALIAN, COLONIAL, AND GENERAL LIFE ASSURANCE AND ANNUITY COMPANY. (1844, January 13). The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal (WA : 1833 - 1847), p. 4. Retrieved from

NOTICE.—The Interest of Mashfield Mason, Esq., in the firm of Thacker, Mason, and Co., has this day ceased; and the business of the above house will henceforward be conducted by the continuing partners, John Thacker and William Fane de Salis, under the style of Thacker and Co. Sydney, 30th June, 1845. NOTICE.—The Interest of Mashfield Mason, Esq., in the firm of Thacker, Mason, and (1845, July 4). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 700. Retrieved from

The first half-yearly meeting of tho Now Bank was hold at .their place of business yesterday John Thacker, Esq., J.P., President, in the chair-when the following Reports and Balance Sheet were submitted to tho consideration of the Proprietors :

The directors have much pleasure in congratulating the proprietors, at this their first half-yearly meeting, on the successful establishment of the bank, and the prosperous state of its affairs.

It will be seen from the accompanying accounts that after payment of all preliminary expenses connected with the formation of the company, and also the usual current expenses of the half-year, the nett profits of the bank, exclusive of that derived from Moreton Bay, amount to £12,727 11s. 8d. ...BANK OF NEW SOUTH WALES. (1851, April 11). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 2. Retrieved from

On Saturday, the new steamer Clarence made a trial trip down the harbour, when a large number of ladies and gentlemen, invited by the Provisional Committee of the Clarence River Steam Packet Company, were present.

Shortly after 11 o clock the company began* to assemble on board the steamer, which lay at her moorings at Keera Wharf, and at a quarter to twelve the order was given to cast loose, when the Clarence majestically steamed away, with her precious freight of youth and beauty, gallantry, and wealth. Among the company were most of the leading officials and members of the mercantile community. The Clarence left the wharf at about a quarter to twelve, and after rounding Battery Point, stood towards Fort Macquarie, with the intention of taking in the Colonial Secretary, who was expected to come off from the Cove. No sign of the hon. gentlemen being seen, the steamer pursued her course down the harbour, passing Pinchgut Island at three minutes after twelve ; and after making Gibbes' Point, she veered round, and stood again towards the Battery, with the hope of picking up missing guests. 

On passing H.M.S. Calliope, the colours with which the steamer was profusely decorated, were dipped ; the band of the 11th, which by the kind permission of Colonel Bloomfield was engaged for the day, striking up ' Rule' Britannia,' and a hearty British cheer burst from the hearts and voices of the company and crew, which was immediately answered by the man-of-war, who gracefully dipped her ensign in reply to the steamer's salute.

The missing guests not making their appearance, the Clarence fairly went 'a-head,' and leaving the stone wall at Battery Point at twenty-eight minutes and a half past twelve, accomplished the distance to Bradley's Head in fifteen minutes and a half. The trial was scarcely a fair one, as the vessel has not yet been placed on the slip, and her bottom is still foul. Nevertheless, every person on board expressed their gratification at her speed and steadiness, scarcely any motion being perceivable, except amidship in the neighbourhood of the engine. 

Shortly after one o'clock, the Clarence cast anchor off Piper's Point, when a sumptuous collation was served up to the guests of the day, Mr. Thacker occupying the chair. We need scarcely say that the luncheon was of first-rate description, and the sparkling eyes of the fair ladies who graced the ' trial' with their presence, gave a zest to the whole affair, which nor the music, nor the wine, nor the bright sky, nor balmy breeze, could have ensured without their gentle presence. After the various 'confectionaries' had been discussed, the worthy President, Mr. Thacker, in a brief but appropriate speech, overflowing with loyalty, proposed the health of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen of England, which was drunk with the greatest enthusiasm, the band striking up ' God save the Queen.
This toast was followed by 'the health of Prince Albert,' whom Mr. Thacker characterised not only as an accomplished gentleman, but as a ' model husband' — a sentiment which was vociferously cheered both by the gentler and the sterner sex visitors. The band struck up Prince Albert's march, and the toast, in which was of course included ' the rest of the Royal Family,' was drunk with ' all the honours.' 
The next toast was 'His Excellency Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy, the first Governor General of the Australian Colonies.' In introducing this toast, the Chairman dwelt at some length on the virtue of that principle of government which consisted in letting people do as they please, which His Excellency the Governor-General, with rare discretion, appeared to practise upon principle, and so long as Sir Charles follows this wholesome and truly British rule of government, there could be no doubt that he would command the affections of the free people over whom His Excellency had been called to preside. The toast was drunk with three times three ; the band playing 'The' old English Gentleman.' 
The Chairman then proposed ' the Army and Navy,' which was drunk with great applause ; and responded to in most appropriate terms by Colonel Bloomfield, and J. Dobie, Esq., M.L.C. ; the band playing ' British Grenadiers,' and 'Rule Britannia.'' Colonel Bloomfield then proposed ' the Mercantile interest, and the proprietors of the Clarence, steamer,' which was briefly acknowledged by Mr. Thacker, who paid a high compliment to Captain Wiseman, the commander of the Clarence, whose health was proposed by Mr. Justice Therry. 

Captain Wiseman having returned thanks, the Chairman rose to propose the health of 'The ladies.' We can scarcely trust ourselves to report the gallant, and at the same time the insinuating remarks of the worthy chairman in proposing the toast; but after alluding in the warmest terms to the manifold virtues of the female sex, he dwelt with some complacency on their value in a commercial point of view, asserting that the ladies of Australia were the greatest consumers of satin, silk and buckram, in the whole of the known world. (Loud cheers and laughter). The band struck tip 'Here's a health to all good Lasses,' and then a call for Mr. Donaldson arose, which the honorable gentleman vainly attempted to ignore. 

The call being vociferously repeated, Mr. Donaldson rose, and in a speech which sparkled with poetic allusions and sweet imaginations, returned his heartfelt thanks on behalf of the ladies of Australia for the honor which the Company had done them and themselves in drinking the toast. Who and what, said the honorable gentleman, were the ladies of Australia ? They were the noble scions of the matrons of England, and had brought into their adopted land all the virtue and all the nobility of character which distinguished the women of that land. (Cheers.) As to his own feelings on the subject, they were such as he dared not divulge. (Cheers.) But he would express his conviction that no man had ever conceived or said a happy thing, or done a good deed, without having in his thoughts some fair being whom he wished to propitiate, some sdolo cao whom he longed to please. (Loud cheers.) To quote from Old Propertius— 
It is not Calliope who kindles my fancies 
It is not Apollo who fingers the lyre ; 
But my girl, who illumines my brain with her glances, 
And hangs on my lips till she tips them with fire.' 
The hon. gentleman's speech was throughout received with the loudest applause. The health of Mr. Donaldson was then drunk, as also that of the Chairman and the Provisional Committee of the Clarence River Company, which were appropriately responded to by both gentlemen. The table having been cleared away, the band played several favorite quadrilles and polkas, and the fair and gallant company beguiled the sweet hour of evening with the merry and fantastic dance. At twenty minutes to 5 the Clarence again weighed anchor and stood homewards, after 'looking at' North Head, whose frowning appearance however, illumined by the warning rays of the silver moon, forbad an excursion beyond bounds. The return trip was accomplished (from the light-ship to the wharf) in 30 minutes ; thus establishing the speed of the Clarence, in spite of sundry impediments, at something more than 12 knots an hour. We need scarcely add that the guests left the ship highly delighted with their day's delassement. The weather was on ne peut mieux; in other words, truly Australian.
TRIAL TRIP OF THE CLARENCE. (1852, July 3). The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 - 1860), p. 180. Retrieved from

The Clarence, 346 gross tons, 214 net. Lbd: 150'8" x 22'5" x 11'1" was an Iron paddle steamer passenger capacity, built by John Laird, Birkenhead for J Thacker & Partners (who intended to form the Clarence S N Co) but upon arrival changed plans. Claiming she was too deep for the river, she was sent to the Hunter river for sale. In September 1852 she was bought by A Rose of Launceston who, with others, formed the Launceston Steam Navigation Company in 1853. She was enrolled under that Company name in March of that year and worked the Bass Strait run. Sold January 1857 to ASN Co for their Sydney - Queensland run, being lengthened November 1862 as 377 gross tons and Lbd: 176'9" x 23'2" x 10'8". Wrecked 1st June 1872 off Port Macquarie New South Wales.

THE Partnership hitherto existing between John Thacker, Arthur Cecil Daniell, and George King, having expired, by effluxion of time, on the 30th June last, notice is hereby given, that from and after that date the said Partnership is dissolved, so far as regards the interest and responsibility of John Thacker, and that the business lately conducted under the style of "Thacker and Co.," will henceforward be conducted by the continuing partners, Arthur C. Daniell and George King.

By his Attorney Wm. Fanning.

ARTHUR CECIL DANIELL, By his Attorney George King.

Dated Sydney, 1st July, 1857.

With reference to the above advertisement, we hereby give notice that the style and title of our firm will henceforward be " Thacker, Daniell, 
and Co."

By his Attorney G. King.
Dated Sydney, 1st July, 1857.
THE Partnership hitherto existing between John Thacker, Arthur Cecil Daniell, and (1857, July 3). New South Wales Government Gazette(Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 1368. Retrieved from

THACKER—November 27th, 1863, at Ascot, SunninghillJohn Thacker, Esq., late of Sydney, aged 72Family Notices (1864, February 16). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from

Margaret Maria Jane and Isabelle Thacker
Artist (Draughtsman), Artist (Painter)
Four sisters, all sketchers and flower painters, of whom Margaret and Maria were the most prolific. Other works include views of Sydney and Newcastle.

Both Maria and Isabelle were daughters of John Thacker of Berkshire who established the successful Sydney firm of Thacker, Mason & Company, merchants. They came to Sydney from London in the Kelso with their parents and two other sisters, Ann and Eliza, arriving on 6 May 1842. 

On the 7th instant, after a severe illness, at the residence of her father, in Liverpool-street, Eliza Helen, youngest daughter of Mr John Thacker, aged 17 years. Family Notices (1851, July 12). Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 - 1860), p. 3. Retrieved from

The Mitchell Library holds two volumes of finely detailed botanical watercolours on rice paper painted by the Thacker sisters. With the exception of the Blue Water Lily , all are believed to have been drawn before 1853 from native flowers in the Sydney area. Stylistically they are extremely similar and can be attributed to individuals only by the initials that appear in the lower right-hand corner of each page. The majority are by Margaret and Maria, who gave the volumes to their niece, Frances Hamilton, in 1895. Some appear to be initialled 'I.F.T.’ (Isabelle) or 'J.F.T.’ (Jane). Jane drew the competent pencil Their House, Sydney (National Library of Australia [NLA]) and Margaret painted sepia wash views (Mitchell Library). A wash drawing captioned 'The residence of Edward and Annie Hamilton’ (NLA) is annotated as having being sketched by Maria and finished by Jane.

Two volumes of well-executed views of New South Wales by Margaret and Maria, done in pencil, ink and wash or sepia watercolour (c.1850-53), are also in the Mitchell Library with some photographs of their drawings included in the first volume. Several watercoloursdepict views of the property Collaroy, near Cassilis, New South Wales, managed between 1839 and 1855 by Ann Thacker’s husband, Edward William Terrick Hamilton (subsequently chancellor of Sydney University and first agent-general for New South Wales) and his brother Captain H.G. Hamilton. 

Thacker, Jane & Thacker, Maria. (1846). View 6 [six] miles from Collaroy, the residence of Edward & Annie Hamilton Retrieved from

Views of Sydney include Cliff near the South Head, Port Jackson (sepia watercolour) and View from Lighthouse, Sydney (sepia watercolour and pen). Two views of Newcastle in ink and wash – Newcastle Cathedral (9 December 1850) and Newcastle (December 1850) – and a view of Liverpool Range (1849) are the only dated works in the volumes.

Thacker, Jane. ([184-?]). South Head Road, near Sydney Retrieved from

Thacker, Jane. ([184-?]). A part of the harbour & Rose Bay Retrieved from

The Thacker sisters studied with Conrad Martens in 1846-47. On 16 October 1846 Martens noted in his account book that he had received £16.10s for drawing lessons from 'the Misses Thacker’ for three months, a sum that would have covered five individual students. Since he gave discounts for groups, it is likely that all six sisters learned from him. On 8 January 1847, however, Martens noted that only two of the Misses Thacker were taking lessons the following quarter, presumably Margaret and Maria, the most artistically prolific.
Biography retrieved from Design & Art Australia Online. Written 1992.

Mr Edward William Terrick HAMILTON (1809 - 1898)
Date of Birth: 26/11/1809
Place of Birth: Loughton, Essex, England
Date of Death: 28/09/1898
Place of Death: 'Charters', Sunningdale, Berkshire, England
Member of the NSW Legislative Council 17 Jul 1843 01 May 1846 2 yrs 9 mths 15 days A Non-Elective Member of the first Legislative Council 1843 – 1856
Member of the NSW Legislative Council 08 Dec 1848 01 May 1850 1 yr 4 mths 24 days A Non-Elective Member of the first Legislative Council 1843 – 1856
Qualifications, occupations and interests
Pastoralist; company director. In 1851, after retiring from the Legislative Council in 1850, he became the first Provost (the title was changed to Chancellor in 1860) of the University of Sydney, resigning in March 1854. He was governor of the Australian Agricultural Company from August 1857 to September 1898. He was Sheriff of Berkshire, England, in 1879.
Membership of other Parliaments & Offices Held
Member of the House of Commons for Salisbury 1865 - 1869.
Son of the Rev. Anthony Hamilton (1778 - 1851) and his wife Charity Farquhar. Married Ann Thacker, daughter of John Thacker of Berkshire and New South Wales, and they had two sons and six daughters. 

On Wednesday, the 14th instant, at St. Lawrence's Church, by the Rev. R. Allwood, Edward Hamilton, Esq., second son of the Rev. Anthony
Hamilton. Archdeacon of Taunton, to Ann second daughter of John Thacker, Esq. Family Notices (1844, August 17). The Dispatch(Sydney, NSW : 1843 - 1844), p. 3. Retrieved from

Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. Bachelor of Arts (BA) 1832; and Master of Arts (MA) 1835. He was a fellow of Trinity College from 1834 to 1842. Admitted to the Bar 1832. In August 1839 he bought a property in New South Wales ('Collaroy', near Cassilis) 'in partnership with his brother, Captain H. G. Hamilton, and a friend, George Clive. He arrived in New South Wales in February 1840. With his brother he managed 'Collaroy' and other properties acquired during his stay. Church of England.
Additional Information
Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB), Volume 4. An image is on the University of Sydney website, under the Senate (list of Chancellors). The 'Collaroy' Papers are in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. 
Retrieved from Parliament of New South Wales biographies

Collaroy Surf club today. A J Guesdon picture.
View towards the Collaroy-Long Reef Headland today. A J Guesdon picture.