Maritime History and Heritage




Navigators and Explorers

A look at two millenia of journeys and expedition in search of what the ancients referred to as Terra Australis Incognita. Dutchman Willem Janz is the man history credits as having made the first confirmed, recorded encounter of the Australian coastline by Europeans in the Duyfken, but there is evidence there many before him.

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The Era of The Flying Boats

Flying boats were used in the 1930s to pioneer the concept of international air travel. Qantas flying boats ushered in an era of stately and pleasurable flying - and they were built for comfort and safety rather than speed. Only 16 passengers could be accommodated during flights with overnight legs, but they enjoyed "the most luxurious saloons ever prepared in an aircraft" spread over a series of tiered cabins including a smoking room and bunk-like sleeping berths.

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Australia's First Fleet, 1788

The First Fleet was a fleet of 11 ships that brought the first European and African settlers to Australia. It was made up of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports. On 13 May 1787 the fleet under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, with over 1400 people (convicts, marines, sailors, civil officers and free settlers), left from Portsmouth, England and took a journey of over 24,000 kilometres (15,000 mi) and over 250 days to eventually arrive in Botany Bay, New South Wales, where a penal colony would become the first European settlement in Australia.

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Australia's First Cruise Ship


The atmosphere on the wharf when Strathaird let go the lines on Sydney's Circular Quay on 23 December, 1932 was like a big carnival. As she inched slowly away from the berth, the departure of P&O's new gleaming-white ship, RMS Strathaird, heralded the beginning of a new era, though few of the hundreds of people lining the ship's rails or waving from the shore realised the magnitude of the occasion. Strathaird was sailing away for a five-night cruise with just two ports of call - Brisbane and Norfolk Island. It was the beginning of P&O Cruises' first cruise from Australia and was one of the world's first cruises.

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Voyages To Disaster

Over the centuries, there have been hundreds of voyages to and from Australia that have ended in disaster. Some ships were seized by munineers, others just disappeared without trace, often to be found years later in a watery grave.

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Famous International Shipwrecks



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Ghost Ships, Lost and Abandoned


Ghost ships, sometimes also called phantom ships, are vessels with no living crew aboard. These may be real derelict ships found adrift with their crew missing, such as the 19th century HMS Resolute, or fictional and folkloric ones, like the apocryphal Octavius. Other ships have not only lost their crew, but have become lost themselves, never to be seen again.

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