February 13 - 19, 2022: Issue 526


Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures

Lucinda Park, off Iluka Road Palm Beach where Nabilla meets this, celebrates the birth of our Australian Federation in 1901 in great Pittwater style by honouring a paddle steamer that visited that estuary on which our Constitution was revised. The block of land contains dinghy storage and a boat ramp for smaller boats, car parking spaces, a grassed area and park benches and a directional marker.

The section in this 1927 lithograph at the end of Nabilla road was closed off to create the park:

From Palm Beach subdivisions folder, courtesy State Library of New South Wales.

Australia became a nation on January 1st 1901, when the British Parliament passed legislation enabling the six Australian colonies to collectively govern in their own right as the Commonwealth of Australia. It was a remarkable political accomplishment that had taken many years and several referenda to achieve. The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (UK) was passed on 5 July 1900 and given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria on July 9th 1900. It was proclaimed on January 1st 1901 in Centennial Park, Sydney. Sir Edmund Barton was sworn in as the interim Prime Minister, leading an interim Federal ministry of nine members.

From March 27th to 29th 1891, the Drafting Committee (including Samuel Griffith, Edmund Barton, Charles Kingston and John Downer) revised the draft Constitution on board the paddlesteamer Lucinda when it anchored in The Basin. This 1891 draft later served as the starting point for the Convention of 1897-98. 

Their stay at The Basin is commemorated by the Commonwealth Government by a plaque that remains  installed in the sandstone wall of the shelter pavilion.

This states:

On Saturday 28th March 1891 the Queensland Government paddle steamer, "Lucinda", cruised the lower reaches of the Hawkesbury River and anchored in the Basin. Work achieved on the vessel by colonial leaders, Sire Samuel Griffith and Messrs Barton and Kingston during that day and over Easter 1891 led to breaking the deadlock over contentious issues which eventually led to the adoption of the Australian  Constitution. ERECTED TO COMMEMORATE THE EVENT BY THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT FOR THE COASTERS RETREAT HISTORICAL SOCIETY."

Festooned Lucinda cruising on the Brisbane River. Image No.: StateLibQld 1 270485, courtesy State Library of Queensland


The members of the Federal Constitution Bill Drafting Committee, at the invitation of Sir Samuel Griffith, on Friday night (March 27th) went on a cruise in the Queensland Government yacht Lucinda to Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury. The object of the cruise was to obtain absolute privacy and quietness for the work of drafting the measure. By dint of hard work the bill was drafted into shape late on Saturday night, and on the vessel returning to Sydney last evening, it was forwarded to the Government Printer. During to-day the draft will be considered by the constitutional machinery committee, and it is probable that the bill will be submitted to the convention to-morrow afternoon. The Federal Convention. (1891, March 30). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), , p. 5. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114314795

The Queensland Government ordered Lucinda from the Scottish shipyard of William Denny & Brothers at Dumbarton in January 1884 to replace an earlier steam yacht Kate from 1864. She was designed as a paddle yacht and lighthouse tender with a steel hull of 180 feet length overall, 25 feet beam and 9½ feet depth; the steamer measured 301 gross registered tons and had a service draught of 6 ft 3in. Her two side paddles were powered by an oscillating two-cylinder compound engine of 114 nhp, made by Denny, and she was equipped with electric light. She had a female figurehead and her accommodation was well fitted out. 

The press reported that "Although technically designated as only as lighthouse tender, the Lucinda is in reality one of the most magnificent upholstered and effectively equipped steamers afloat." The forward saloon was fitted with sofas and could be converted to sleep 20 passengers, while the aft saloon was designed for social events. The specification notes that "an oval shaped deck opening in centre, with stained glass skylight, afforded light and ventilation" and that the "aft part of the deckhouse was fitted up as a ladies' ante-room, with side panels of japanese tapestry." There was also a smoking room in the forward deckhouse.

Lucinda was named in honour of Lady Jeannie Lucinda Musgrave (née Field), second wife of Governor Sir Anthony Musgrave. She was steamed out to Australia via Gibraltar, Suez Canal, Aden and Batavia, departing the Clyde on 17 January 1885 and arriving at Brisbane on 7 May.

As well as servicing Queensland lighthouses, the steamer was used for ministerial visits along the coast (and to New Guinea on occasion), Cabinet meetings on the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay, picnic outings for various associations and annual excursions for school children in the state. Lucinda was also flagship of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, and she was referred to as Queensland Government Steam Yacht (QGSY) Lucinda.



Was ever before, in the history of humanity, the constitution of a great nation fashioned on board ship? Those of smaller ones often have—by the captain of a man of-war. at the capstan head; and it is alleged the jovial rovers of the Spanish Main, whenever they descended on the Carribees, used to call a holy convocation of the best looking girls in the island, sometimes ashore, and sometimes, aboard, and amuse themselves by listening to the definition of the laws they would like to impose on all and sundry. 

But, certainly, in causing the constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia-detestable phrase that latter—to be drawn up on board the Lucinda in—ominous suggestion—Broken Bay, Sir Samuel Griffith has established an astonishing precedent. Yet so it was. Ever since the Queenslanders have been in Sydney, their hotel has been their sharp-nosed, almost felucca-built trap, which has a curious sharpness of stem and clean lines, which excite general admiration, and their life there has been the envy of all who had to swelter by night in sultry Sydney. When the Convention adjourned, just before Eastertide, the constitutional committee rapidly adjusted the remaining points, and handed its duties over to its drafting sub-committee, who, with the exception of Mr Clark (Tasmania), who was indisposed from influenza, proceeded, at Sir Samuel’s invitation, aboard the Lucinda, and proceeded along the coast, drafting the Constitution in the intervals between sea-sickness and soda water. 

Mr Clark, who is one of the ablest and smartest of the lawyers in the Convention, joined them on Sunday,. and the work was steadily pursued all through the Easter holidays, and reached its culmination on Sunday night. The constitutional machinery committee tackled the work boldly on the morning of Easter Monday, and sat until after 10 o’clock in the evening, when they were finally delivered of what is truly a magnum opus. That it will pass the Convention, of course, with some modifications, there is now little doubt, and every effort is being being made to close the Convention so as to have the final banquet about the 13th or 14th. The Western Australian delegates say that they have taken their passages from Adelaide by the steamer departing on. the 15th, and Mr Forrest their Premier, whose fame as an explorer who succeeded where most men failed is unique, says “get” he will. At Perth he has a young infant called Western Australia to nurse, and every.one knows that if you neglect a new born babe you are likely to “hear of it.” When I just changed cities I thought I should have been able to tell you much of the private views of the delegates to show you for what reasons the conclusions were arrived at to throw, in fact, side lights on the face of events. In this resp-ct the ground hag been cut from under my feet by the openness of the Convention. 

The delegates express their own views—or so much of them as they deem politic—from their places, and it would be an impertinence, and cause confusion, after that to piece together the illustrative scraps of hints they drop in private or the pickings of the clubrooms and salons. Fur a like reason I have found it impossible to comment more upon the actual work done in Convention, for the wires flash such full particulars all over the colonies that it becomes the province of the leader writer rather than the political essayist to deal with these. One thing I have observed all along. The delegates met as men determined the foundation stone of Australasian unity should be cemented down this time, and it is not so much the words of their speeches, for politicians will quibble, but their tone that had to be taken into account. New Zealand will probably stand out; Western Australia and Tasmania may, though 1 scarcely think they will when the winning numbers are up, but you may rest assured the federation will be established, and as to Tasmania she cannot really help herself. If she held aloof now she would be dragged in in a year or two after the establishing of a federal tariff neck and heels. What is helping to bring about the fusion of the two most populous colonies is the feeling of pitying contempt the average Sydney freetrader has for the poor deluded Victorian, and his confidence that, once federated with him, he will make him realise the advantages of open ports to everybody so quickly that in a few years he will be throwing up his cap and crying “down with this protection against the world, freetrade with everybody.” 

Only this morning the Sydney Morning Herald, throwing our Hayter in our teeth, assures us that while for 1889-90 our imports amounted to £24,492,760, our exports were but £12,734,734, leaving a balance of £11,668,026, which, it remarks, must be taken to be a portion of the 31 million odd by which we have increased our indebtedness during the last three years; while for the same period in New South Wales the import- were £22,863,057, and exports £23,294,934, or almost double those of Victoria. In the period from 1867 to 1889, 22 years, they point out the population of Victoria had increased from 651,571 to 1,115,025, while the value of exports of articles manufactured in the colony fell from £15 9s 7d to £8 17s Id per head, and the value of exports produced or manufactured in New South Wales, which in 1878 was £16 5s per head, was in 1888 £l6 4s 1d. After mercilessly quoting a few more leaves from Hayter, the article concludes with “such are a few of the gleanings from the second volume of the instructive Year Book, which the Victorian Statist annually publishes as a warning to the colonies and as a record of the results of the costly policy in an unlucky hour adopted by Victoria.” It has proved a little important for Victoria that Sir Samuel Griffith should have chosen as his principal helper on the drafting committee, Mr Clark, of Tasmania, instead of the conqueror of Ah Toy. At the same time there cannot be the smallest doubt but that the better lawyer was selected. Mr Wrixon has cut a poorer figure at the Convention than he does in the House, where he has occasionally delivered a good and well-reasoned speech. The term Commonwealth which is said to have originated with Sir Henry Parkes, does' not roll nicely on the tongue, and it is likely an amendment will be moved, but as the Queenslanders, Victorians, and New-South Wales men will support the proposal as drafted, this is likely to be defeated. If so, we shall have probably to accept the aged term Senate, instead of the brighter and more apt term Council of the States. Mr Gillies is growing unhappy. Bantering Mr Munro in the earlier days of the Convention Session, he told him in his speech that it was impossible to prevent the existence of Parliamentary antagonism or a Parliamentary Opposition in the Federal Parliament. And remarked, referring to his old antagonist(Mr Gillies) you will remember sits not with the Victorian delegate, but facing Mr Munro, on the other side of the Chamber. “ 

If some gentlemen from Victoria were placed in the Government, will any intelligent man tell me that there would not be a number of representatives from Victoria who would go straight with Opposition.” But how it is beginning to be possible that this ideal Opposition in the House of Representatives may not after all be required.  With a Mini-try which is only partially responsible to the Lower House, which is to be composed of members who do not sit in the State Legislature-, it will be a consideration whether it would be worth while to enter the-Federal Legislature for the sake of the £500 a year and chance of office. Many of our best politicians will no doubt prefer the rough and tumble work of the local Legislatures to the serenity of the Federal.. Still, Senator Gillies would sound nice. Should not the members of the House of Representatives have a distinct title? The Americans are styled Congressmen, but we could scarcely calls ours Mr Representative. That would seem meaningless. i Will the Imperial Government consent to allow the. nomination of Governors to the various States to be taken out of its hands add vested in the local'Parliaments ? That .is a matter worth turning over. If so, what 'is 1 ;to become of the lords in. waiting? It is too bad just now to say that Tasmania and West Australia will sulk and refuse to play, if the surplus of the revenue of the federation is returned on the basis of their tirade. You see we all contemplate as enormous surplus like America. However you need not trouble about the contention; that lion in the path is no bigger than a. rabbit. The 'difficulty' has been foreseen and also the method of compromise. Good progress should be made this week if evening and day sittings are persevered with; but if the delegates get through by the 13th they will have established a Parliamentary record. NOTES ON THE CONVENTION. (1891, April 3). The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), , p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article209713374

An Historic Steamer - Lucinda's Career Ended

In the group photograph of the Lucinda's personnel on page 24, the names are :—Front row: James Milne (steward), T. L. Craig (captain), G. R. Williams (chief engineer). Back, row: J. Griffin (A.B.), G. Massey .(A.B.), H. M'Gregor (boatswain), J. Arthur, C. Smith.Our Illustrations. (1921, January 22). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), , p. 36. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22608692


The Queensland Government yacht Lucinda. as she now lies, a "sheer hulk,'' in the Brisbane River, degraded to the position of a sand-boat. It was on this vessel, then the trim ship shown in the illustration at the right, that the Australian Constitution was framed by the Constitution Committee under the leadership of the late Sir Samuel Griffith, the last stage of the drafting being completed on board the Lucinda on the Hawkesbury River from March 27 to 29, 1891.SOME DETAILS OF THE CAPITAL. (1927, May 19). The Queenslander(Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), , p. 34. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25296476

Lucinda was sold to the Riverside Coal Transport Company in 1923, who made her coal lighter until the end of her service in May 1932. She was scuttled on the south east side of Bishop Island at the mouth of the Brisbane River. This area has since been covered over and reclaimed as part of the Port of Brisbane expansion.

Pittwater Council honoured her with a sandstone sculpture in a newly created Lucinda Park at Palm Beach. The design invokes a paddlewheel passing through waters.

In the 2000/01 Financial year Pittwater Council was granted $75,000 under the Better Boating Program for Lucinda Park, Nabilla Road, Palm Beach.

Interestingly Palm Beach RSL started off as a shed and was originally built in Lucinda Park, Nabilla Rd Palm Beach. The shed, built from weather board by Dick Martin, Jack Martin and Fred Verrills, was then moved to Barrenjoey Rd, the current Club site, sitting approximately where the bistro dinner room is now. The land purchased in Barrenjoey Rd was instigated by Carl Gow. The little Club traded there from the very early 50's until the current Club opened in December 1957. The original shed was removed by Peter Verrills and Bill Martin then transported by Bill's semi-trailer to Wisemans Ferry and there it was used as a cabin for the Verrills family & friends for their water skiing holidays. In the early days the Cub (shed)l opened daily at 4pm and operated on an honour system, any purchases were fixed up on pay day.

The Club as it is today was built by R. Martin & Sons. It was opened on the 14th December 1957. The president at the time of the opening was Alf Curtis and the secretary was Ron Vance. Some of the early committee members were Harold Richardson, Ken Wardrop, Fred Verrills, Jack Martin, Bill McTaggart, Ron Vance, Jack Henman, Brian Oxenham and Chic Whitchard. Some old local family names were the Gonsalves, Martins, and Goddards. There was a big variety of local businesses including the chemist, butcher, bakers, doctors and the fruit and veg shop.

At The Spit, Mosman, another Lucinda Memorial commemorates the Centenary of Federation in 2001. In this version 2001 stones form the basis of monument together with a steel sculpture of the paddle wheel steam yacht Lucinda. The stone contributions for the memorial came from all councils in New South Wales.

Times & Tides: A Middle Harbour Memoir, by Gavin Souter (Simon & Schuster, 2004 ), relates that during the 1920's Mosman Council reclaimed 12 acres of mudflat on the western side of the original sand spit by building a retaining sea wall and filling it with spoil from an ocean outfall sewer that was being excavated beneath Parriwi Ridge and Middle Harbour to Clontarf and North Head.

Gavin says; 'For a strip of relatively modern land, Spit West Reserve is now well supplied with reminders of the past. At the southern end of its playing field stands a tablet of 93 bricks from 'Lyndhurst' a 17th century farmhouse in Hampshire where Governor Phillip once lived. At the other end, among some Norfolk pines near Lucinda, is a plaque to boxer Les Darcy, who used to train at The Spit.'

Below run 2022 pictures of 2001 Federation Centenary tribute to this boat and this momentous work which happened here, on Pittwater. 

Article/Photos: A J Guesdon.