- Barton, Alan
- Ship histories and stories, History - pre-Federation
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
As the boats were loading from her, the SIRIUS drifted too far into the bay to get out again and was wrecked on a reef near the settlement. By a hawser with a traveller on it, all were saved through the surf, along with much of stores and provisions but the SIRIUS was a total wreck.
The mainly square-rigged sailing ships of that period couldn’t sail as close into the wind or manoeuvre like a modern yacht with fore and aft sails which have a similar aerodynamic effect to an aeroplane wing.
While ships of that period could “tack” with their bows across and into the wind, they often used to “wear” by falling off the wind and turning round with their stern towards the wind, until the wind blew on their other side, when sailing in a direction towards the wind.
Without engines or modern tugboats, changes in wind or current could endanger them when close to land. Captain Hunter and his officers were honourably acquitted of all blame for the ship’s loss at a later court martial in England.
Due to a shortage of ships and food in Sydney, the survivors remained on Norfolk Island for eleven months before being rescued, arriving Sydney February 26, 1791 and eventually reaching England in April, 1792.
My First Fleet ancestor Frederick Meredith was a crew member in H.M.S. SIRIUS. As Australia seemed one of his two great loves, he arrived back in the colony in January, 1793 in the BELLONA, among our first free settlers.
As our Australian nation now faces modern stresses and challenges, which we hope and pray we will overcome and in doing so grow in nationhood, perhaps it is strengthening to remember and think about the difficulties and challenges that our founding families had to contend with and overcome.
Our first flagship, H.M.S. SIRIUS played her noble part in these historic events. One of her anchors can be seen today in Macquarie Place, close to the heart of Sydney and the Sydney Cove where she swung at anchor in the days before Sydney existed.
“AUSTRALIAN ENCYCLOPAEDIA” Printed 1925 by Angus & Robertson
“PHILLIP OF AUSTRALIA” M Barnard Eldershaw. George G. Harrap & Co Ltd, 1938
“1788” THE PEOPLE OF THE FIRST FLEET” Don Chapman, Doubleday Sydney & Auckland, 1981
“THE SIRIUS LETTERS” Newton Fowell (1736-1790) The Fairfax Library, Sydney 1988
“ARTHUR PHILLIP” by Thea Stanley Hughes, Star Printery Pty Ltd