Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The "Phoenix" hulk

Phoenix Hulk moored at entrance to Billy Blue's Bay [Lavender Bay] : Robert Russell c. 1837
Sketch courtesy of the National Library of Australia, Canberra
In all its years as a penal colony, 1788 to 1840, there was only ever one hulk moored in Sydney's harbour, that of the "Phoenix", which was hove to in the triangulation of Dawes Point, Lavender Bay, and Goat Island, between 1825 and 1837. Governors Brisbane, Darling, and Bourke found it furthered their aims:
  • the presence of the hulk flashed a warning to recalcitrant convicts;
  • the hulk took the pressure off the overflowing gaol at Circular Quay (Sydney Gaol); and,
  • the 260 felons on board were an easily deployed iron' gang for use on either Goat Island, or the rutted tracks throughout the burgeoning township.
Standing on Dawes Point, hanging over the railing of Pier One, here is the triangulated area nearly 200 years later. Imagine the "Captain Cook Cruises" vessel as the "Phoenix", being close enough to "X" marks the spot. To the left of the image, Goat Island sneaks its nose in, to the left of the fuel barge.
The fuel barge continues to chugg down the waterways of the harbour, and exit right. Leaving Goat Island centre stage. The evidence of the relationship between the island and the hulk, is scattered every-which-where on the island, together with the fingerprints of Governor Richard Bourke.
A pivot on my heels, together with a few dollysteps, and my Dawes Point location becomes apparent.

Below are two annotated images to help you orient yourself. Both images, courtesy of The Graeme Andrews Collection at the National Maritime Museum.

4 comments:

Joe said...

There is such a disparity between the landscape in the painting and the that which exists today Julie.

Gary Crockett said...

great work - always wondered where the hulk was anchored.

Brona Joy said...

I've been on a Goat Island tour and I catch a ferry past Goat Island on a regular basis, but have never heard of this particular history before - fascinating!
Glad I found your blog :-)

Birdman said...

Thanks for that little bit of history of the harbor... yesterday and today.