Sunday, August 10, 2014
The 19th of March next year will be the 225th anniversary of the wrecking of HMS Sirius on the reef at Norfolk Island. Her wrecking was undoubtedly the most serious event to occur during the early life of both the Port Jackson and Norfolk Island settlements and this important anniversary is one that we intent to mark. To do so we have teamed up with The Travel Centre to organise for a week of events that will include a luncheon on the 19th March under a marquee at Munna’s, timed to mark the Noon time wrecking.
However the most exciting news around this week is that the special guest presenters for these events are Graham Henderson and Myra Stanbury. Many locals know both Graham and Myra as they were the key personnel involved in the four 1980’s expeditions to recover the Sirius artefacts, now displayed in our HMS Sirius Museum. Graham led each expedition and Myra was the Registrar. Graham is recently retired from the Western Australian Maritime Museum where he was the Foundation Director, and Myra still works there as a Senior Curator. They are co-authors of ‘The Sirius: Past and Present”, a comprehensive book on the Sirius’ history and archaeology. Together they are two of Australia’s most eminent maritime archaeologists and we are very excited that they have agreed to be on-island for this special event.In addition to presentations on the anniversary day of the wrecking, Graeme and Myra will speak at the Welcome dinner, an HMS Sirius Research Presentation and other maritime themed events. No doubt we will hear many stories from the four expeditions they worked on between 1983 and 1988 which resulted in the raising of approximately 3,000 artefacts including a 1.7 tonne anchor, carronades, ballast, cannon balls, scientific equipment and fine pieces from the Officer’s Cabin. There were many locals who also took part in the dives and expeditions so the week will no doubt have a reunion event planned. We would appreciate any help that you can provide in spreading the word about the week to those involved, please call in to the Pier Store or phone us on 23788 if you’d like information sent on to contacts on the mainland.
This week will of course not only be of interest to those with a maritime interest, but those who ancestry goes back to the First Fleet. Directly involved were those on the Sirius and also the Supply. At the time of her wrecking the Sirius was on a desperate mission sailing to Canton, China to purchase supplies as the Port Jackson population was on the verge of starvation and existing on half rations. On the first leg of the journey she was accompanied by the Supply to transport 116 convict men, 67 convict women, 27 children and 65 marines to Norfolk – thereby offloading their ‘feeding burden’ from NSW to the Norfolk Island settlement. It was while both ships were unloading supplies at Kingston that the wrecking occurred.
However as it impacted on everyone in the Colony at that time, this event will be of interest to descendants of those on the two ships, the existing population on Norfolk Island and also all those in Port Jackson. This was psychologically ‘their’ ship – the flagship of their First Fleet voyage, their lifeline back to mother England and the ship they put all reliance on. As Governor Arthur Phillip said when news of the wrecking reached him in Port Jackson: “You never saw such dismay as the news of the wreck occasioned amongst us all; for, to use a sea term, we looked upon her as our sheet anchor”.
We’d love any help you can give us to publicise this important event and the week of planned activities organised to mark it. Details can be found on The Travel Centre’s web site at www.norfolkislandtravelcentre.com/events/anniversary-of-the-wrecking-of-the-hms-sirius or call us on 23788 for further information.