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Listed under:  History  >  World history  >  Maritime history

Prison hulk York, 1987

This model of the convict hulk York (England, 1807) reflects the harshness of the British penal system in the 18th century, especially the transportation of convicts to Australia. The model is cut away to reveal the daily activities of life on board and allows the viewer to better understand the unsanitary and cramped conditions ...


Shipwreck of the Dunbar at 'the Heads', 1857

The wreck of the clipper ship Dunbar off Sydney Heads in 1857 is regarded as the worst peacetime merchant shipping tragedy in NSW history. This letter was copied from a handwritten manuscript by James Graham, the signal master at South Head, Sydney, in 1857, and was printed in the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 August 1857, ...


Parliamentary paper: summary of Chinese arriving in Victoria, 1885

This parliamentary paper documents information such as ship details, taxation and numbers of Chinese immigrants who arrived in the Colony of Victoria during 1885 and follows on from the earlier Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 (Victoria). The lure of economic prosperity had attracted large numbers of Chinese during the gold ...


Charlotte medal,  1788

This silver medal was engraved by Thomas Barrett, a convict on board the First Fleet transport vessel Charlotte, when the ship was anchored in Botany Bay in 1788. It is recognised as arguably the earliest example of Australian colonial art. One side of the medal depicts a fully rigged ship, sun on the horizon, moon and ...


A list of articles for a lady's use during her passage to India, 1850s

This female emigrant's kit outlined a comprehensive list compiled by Mrs Norton and printed by W Stevens in the 1850s. It was intended for the use of fashionable, unassisted female migrants to aid in their assimilation into colonial society. The list comprised clothing, including morning gowns, waistcoats, night caps and ...


Djarrwark ga Dhalwanu, 1998

This is one of 80 bark paintings in the Saltwater Collection, created by artists of the Yolgnu people of north-east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. These works highlight the issue of Indigenous land and sea rights and use sacred art to inform balanda (non-Indigenous people) of Aboriginal land ownership, in order ...


Letter from Arthur Lederer to HE Lady Max-Muller, 14 February 1939

This letter of thanks was written by Arthur Lederer to H E Lady Max-Muller in 1939 in appreciation of her generosity in helping him and his family escape Nazi-occupied Austria and migrate to Australia. Lady Max-Muller, living in London, had financed the Lederer family's passage by ship and their associated landing fees ...


Torres Strait canoe, c1988

This wood and bamboo model, made by George Crowly around 1988 and built to a scale of 1:15, represents a traditional canoe of the early 20th century from Mabuiag Island (Jervis Island) in the Bellevue Islands of Torres Strait. The vessel's design means that it was suitable for diverse fishing techniques (nets, harpoons, ...


Teaspoon from the Dunbar shipwreck, 1850s

This silver-plated teaspoon is one of numerous items of cutlery recovered from the site of the Dunbar shipwreck (1857) near the entrance to Sydney Harbour. The loss of the vessel was one of Australia's worst maritime disasters and objects recovered from the wreck site give us a snapshot of the period. They also provide ...


'The abolition of the slave trade', 1792

This is a hand-coloured cartoon print showing an African girl being hoisted by the ankle for a flogging on board the British slaving vessel Recovery. The vessel's captain John Kimber is seen on the left, whip in hand. The cartoon was drawn by Isaac Cruikshank and published by S W Fores in London on 10 April 1792. The alternative ...


Slave decks of the bark Wildfire, 1860

This a black-and white engraving showing emaciated Africans on the slave decks of the ship Wildfire. Women are seen in the background on an upper deck, and in the foreground men and boys are crowded together. The engraving was published in Harper's Weekly on 2 June 1860. It was entitled 'The Africans of the slave bark "Wildfire." ...


'Landing negroes at Jamestown from Dutch man-of-war, 1619'

This is a black-and-white illustration showing how the well-known American artist Howard Pyle (1853-1911) imagined the landing of the first Africans at Jamestown in the colony of Virginia nearly 300 years after the historical event. Pyle depicts 20 emaciated captives kneeling or sitting on the ground, guarded by men with ...

Moving Image

Batavia shipwreck leads to mass murder

In 1629, the Dutch merchant ship Batavia was wrecked off the Western Australian coast near present-day Geraldton. What followed was a tale of mutiny and mass murder on the surrounding islands. Hear from two members of the 1963 expedition that first uncovered the ship's remains, as they visit one of the islands in 2013.


A Big Country - On the Hook, 1976: The hungry mile

This clip shows scenes of the working conditions of the waterside workers in the 1970s, comparing them with scenes from a film illustrating the working conditions of the waterside workers in the 1930s. It opens with scenes of workers on the wharves in the 1970s followed by dramatised black-and-white footage from the Waterside ...


The cruise of the Kormoran, 1940-41

This is a nautical chart showing the route of the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, which was known as 'Raider G'. The chart shows the route the ship took across the Atlantic and Indian oceans during its operations between December 1940 and November 1941. The circles represent the locations of ships the Kormoran either ...


'Parangaina', 1997

This is a life-sized replica of a tepuke (sailing canoe) named 'Parangaina'. It consists of a dugout hull and outrigger, with a platform and shelter built above to keep cargo and provisions dry during sea voyages. The sail looks like a crab claw and is made from woven pandanus-leaf mats that have been carefully stitched ...


'The 'Admella' wrecked, Cape Banks, 6th August, 1859'

This is an oil painting, measuring 68.5 cm x 97.7 cm, by South Australian colonial artist James Shaw (1815-81), who settled in Adelaide in 1850. It shows a ship, wrecked on a reef and being torn apart by mountainous waves. Morning is breaking and in the gathering light it is possible to see that the vessel has been broken ...


William Bligh's notebook and list of mutineers, 1789

These are two pages of handwritten notes made in 1789 by English naval captain William Bligh. The first is taken from a notebook. Bligh began writing in this notebook after a mutiny on his ship, HMAV 'Bounty', when he and 18 of his crew were forced aboard a 7-metre open launch and set adrift in Tongan waters in the South ...


'Panorama of Sydney Harbour with Government House and Fort Macquarie from Mrs Macquarie's Chair', c1845

This is an oil painting made around 1845 by Jacob Janssen (1779-1856). Measuring 62.8 cm x 91.0 cm, the work presents a 19th-century view of a section of Sydney Harbour. Several groups of fashionably dressed people can be seen among the shrubby trees in the foreground: on the left, a young couple with a white dog stroll ...


Turtle shell commemorative plaque, 1925

This is a turtle shell commemorative plaque, dating from 1925 and inscribed with the list of survivors from the shipwreck of the SS 'Gothenberg', which sank off the Queensland coast in 1875. The plaque was created 50 years after the event and presented to individuals who assisted in the rescue. The turtle shell measures ...