Ship Model, HMS 'Lady Nelson'
This ship model of the 'Lady Nelson' acts as an important record of Australia's early maritime history. This is the only known example of a small-scale model of this famous ship, the 'Lady Nelson'. The ship was the first ship to sail through Bass Strait from west to east on its maiden voyage from England to Australia in 1800; she successfully chartered much of the Victorian coastline; was heavily involved with the exploration of the Queensland coast with Matthew Flinders; investigated the Hunter River; made numerous visits to New Zealand and Norfolk Island and was involved in the founding of numerous settlements.
In comparison to most colonial vessels, the 'Lady Nelson' is technically unique. It was fitted with sliding keels, or centre boards, and water-tight trunks reaching to the deck. These sliding keels were invented by Captain Schank and when raised, reduced her draught to less than six feet. This innovation was considered by some as rather dangerous and the 'Lady Nelson' was therefore nicknamed 'His Majesty's Tinderbox' when launched on January 13, 1800.
The 'Lady Nelson' represents the development of early Australian settlements. She transported troops and convicts and carried grain, coal, cedar and seal skins between settlement sites . The ship was involved in the founding of Melbourne, Hobart, Launceston and Newcastle. Descriptions of the 'Lady Nelson' appear prominently in Lachlan Macquarie's journal during his tour of inspection to Van Diemen's Land in 1811 where he even describes her as "the best and safest sea-boat I ever sailed in".
This particular model acts as an important legacy of the full-scale version which no longer survives. While accompanying the HMS 'Tamar' to Melville Island in 1825, the 'Lady Nelson' was captured and later abandoned by pirates off the island of Babar. This brought to a close 25 years of coastal exploration and navigation.
Colwell, M., "Ships and Seafarers in Australian Waters" (Melbourne, 1973)
Grant, J., "The Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery Performed in His Majesty's Vessel The Lady Nelson, of Sixty Tons Burthen, With Sliding Keels in the Years 1800, 1801 and 1802 to New South Wales" (London, 1803)
King, D., "The Lady Nelson Project" in Australian Boating (January, 1986) pp.102-103
Macquarie University (1998-2007), "Journeys in Time - List of Ships", http://www.lib.mq.edu.au/all/journeys/ships/list.html (Downloaded 9/5/2007)
Spillett, P., "From the Other Side: Indonesian Evidence on the Loss of the 'Lady Nelson' and 'Stedcombe' (1825)", The Great Circle, vol. 5, no. 1 (April 1983)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia