Thursday, March 12, 2015

HMS Sirius, Mosman and NICS



Close to 200 visitors are arriving on Norfolk over this weekend to join in the events planned to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the wrecking of HMS Sirius at Slaughter Bay on the 19th March 1790. As the flagship of the First Fleet, the Sirius is arguably Australia’s most important shipwreck and her artefacts the only cultural heritage material we have of the First Fleet. At the museum we are very excited in particular to be welcoming back to the island as special guest speakers, Graeme Henderson and Myra Stanbury both from Western Australia. Graeme led all the 1980s expeditions to recover the Sirius’ artefacts and Myra was the Registrar for these and the 2002 expedition. Now retired, Graeme was the founding Director of the Western Australian Maritime Museum, where Myra still works.  

The Sister Community Agreement between the Municipality of Mosman and Norfolk Island
In addition to the presentations and an official public event to be held at the Sirius monument site on the morning of Thursday the 19th March by the Office of the Administrator, our Norfolk Island Central School (NICS) children are involved in marking this important historical event in a number of ways.

A video conference will be occurring on the 19th between Year 7 NICS kids and Mosman Primary school children. Mosman is located on the lower north shore in Sydney and shares a special relationship with Norfolk Island centred on our shared Sirius histories, which was formalised in 1989 with the signing of a Sister Community Relationship Agreement. Since then there have been a number of exchanges between our two locations. In 1990 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Sirius wrecking, Norfolk Island received a beautiful gift from the people of Mosman of a bas-relief sculpture of the Sirius made by Dr. Alex Sandor Kolozsy that stands in the compound at the back of the Sirius museum.

A handsomely inscribed certificate (photo seen here) confirming the friendship agreement, signed by the then Mayor of Mosman Mr Barry O’Keefe and the then President of the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island Mr David Buffett, hangs in the Legislative Assembly offices. It reads:

Bas relief sculpture by Dr. Alex Sandor Kolozsy
Whereas Mosman and Norfolk Island share a strand of the early history of Australia through their association with His Majesty’s Ship Sirius, which following its return from the Cape of Good Hope with food supplies for the fledgling colony of New South Wales, was careened for repairs and refit between 19 June and 7 November, 1789 in a “convenient retired cove” on the north side of the Harbour which became known as Careening Cove and is now Mosman Bay, and which ran aground on the Reef in Sydney Bay, Norfolk Island on 19 March, 1790 and was wrecked whilst carrying personnel and provisions to the Island.
And whereas the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island and the Mayor and Aldermen of the Municipality of Mosman have expressed a desire to strengthen the links between peoples of the two communities.
And whereas the Mayor and Alderman of the Municipality of Mosman in Council assembled on the eighth day of August in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty Nine resolved to enter into a Sister Community Relationship with the people of Norfolk Island.
And whereas the President and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island have also agreed to enter into such a Relationship.
Now these presents confirm the establishment of a Sister Community Relationship between the Municipality of Mosman and Norfolk Island to promote greater awareness of our links and to foster understanding, goodwill and exchanges in diverse fields, including culture, education, sport and tourism between Mosman and Norfolk Island.

Our NICS students have been busy preparing the stories they want to share with Mosman Primary including the wrecking event and what is happening on the island for the commemoration. By using video link-up the kids from Mosman and Norfolk Island can engage directly with each other, fostering the sort of understanding and goodwill that the Agreement envisaged.

Other NICS students have also been busy taking footage of themselves around the island to be sent to the ABC TV show BTN (Behind the News) and made into a ‘Rookie Reporter’ segment, bringing the news of the wrecking anniversary and also life generally on Norfolk to all mainland schools across Australia. BTN is watched daily by students in schools around the country. This is a fantastic opportunity to educate many, many children across Australia of the importance of the Sirius to the Nation. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for our students to proudly showcase their island and unique island life. 

Yet more NICS students, this time the youngest ones, will be displaying art work inspired by the wrecking of the Sirius in the windows of the vacant shop at Leeside Arcade. Make sure you call by during the week to admire their work! Our thanks to Carole and Dan Yager for allowing use of the shop.

And lastly, a NICS primary choir will be entertaining our visitors attending the anniversary day luncheon and presentations by Graeme and Myra which will occur under a marquee behind Slaughter Bay. The students have been rehearsing a song they will present alongside colonial era singer Paul Bonner-Jones. Sincere thanks to NICS Principal Michelle Nicholson and teachers Tanya Delaney, Kate Lindstrom and Mark Hall for embracing this important anniversary and involving our students in so many ways.

The wrecking of the Sirius was ‘the’ major disaster of the earliest years of the new colony. Norfolk Island’s place at the very heart of the start of what was to become Australia has the opportunity to be more widely told and acknowledged through the events happening on the island this week.  It’s going to be a great week to be on Norfolk Island!

For more information on the Sirius see the Museum’s dedicated web site at www.hmssirius.com.au

2 comments:

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