Finding a Mermaid

The survey vessel that wrecked on an uncharted reef.


Phillip Parker King’s one time survey vessel aboard which he conducted much of his hydrographic work charting the Australian coast and with which he circumnavigated the country, became wrecked on uncharted rocks in 1829.

The 18 meter, single masted, teak cutter of a mere 84 tonnes proved a most reliable vessel for this work. After a take-over and refit in 1821, the little Mermaid, now Her Majesty’s Colonial Schooner (HMCS), supported more survey work undertaken by John Oxley. Another refit in 1829 saw this little workhorse of a vessel turned into an armed vessel with an additional mast. In June 1829 the vessel was wrecked on Flora Reef, uncharted at that time, under the command of Captain Samuel Nolbrow sailing from Sydney with despatches and cargo.

180 years later, a collaborative expedition between the Silentworld Foundation and Australian National Maritime Museum went in search of this most nationally significant little vessel.

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