This painting details Mermaid under the command of Lieutenant Philip Parker King, which set sail for Bass Strait on 21 December 1817. Adverse weather obliged Lieutenant King to turn back to wait for more favourable winds.

SKU SF000717 Category


Mermaid was commissioned on 16 October 1817 and was used in three of the four voyages made by Parker King between December 1817 and April 1822 on his task of ‘Exploring and Surveying the Coast of Australia’. Philip Parker King was born on Norfolk Island in 1793 and has been described as one of the greatest early Australian marine surveyors. In HM Cutter Mermaid Parker King circumnavigated the Australian mainland and conducted the first reliable survey of the Great Barrier Reef Inner Route, opening it to commercial traffic. It was on this circumnavigation that Parker King named Careening Bay on the Kimberley coast, after bringing the HMC Mermaid in for repair. Parker King carved ‘H.M.C. Mermaid 1820′ into the trunk of a conspicuous Boab tree in Careening Bay, in October of the year. The Boab is still there today.

On its last voyage, the then HM Colonial Schooner Mermaid was sailing to Fort Wellington, Raffles Bay in what is now the Northern Territory, under Captain Nolbrow. HMCS Mermaid was wrecked on June 13, 1829 and subsequently sighted by HMS Crocodile in 1830 on a reef 6 nautical miles due east of Frankland Reefs.

As part of a collaborative project, the Silentworld Foundation located the wreck site of Mermaid in 2009. Learn more here.

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Ian Hansen


Paint (oil), Canvas