In 2012 a bowl featuring the ship Star of Tasmania was offered for sale by Gowans Auction House in Hobart;
Other items related to this ship have appeared for sale over the years. It must have been a very special vessel.
From Launceston’s Cornwall Chronicle on Saturday, 18 October 1856;
This beautiful clipper ship has made on this, her maiden trip, a most excellent run. She left Gravesend on the 16th July…..The Star of Tasmania draws 16 feet 6 inches with full cargo,she will therefore require to be considerably lightened before crossing the bar. She is the most perfect specimen of naval architecture. Her saloon and ladies cabins are very spacious and elegantly fitted up. Her accommodation for a large number of passengers is excellent throughout.
However, it wasn’t all ‘smooth sailing’. In fact, on one occasion the ship was at risk of catching alight in Launceston’s Tamar River;
The ship was one of the fastest clipper ships of her era. On one occasion she made the trip from London to King Island in the Bass Strait in just 74 days.
DISASTER IN THE HARBOUR
By 1868 it was Captain Andrew Culbert at the helm, and the ship was in New Zealand’s Oamaru harbour , loading wool for London. During a violent storm, the sleek Star of Tasmania was driven ashore, where she broke up. Two crew members lost their lives, and also the two young sons of Mrs Baker, one of several passengers. An account of the tragedy was published in The North Otago Times;
On June 19 2003, the New Zealand Herald published a piece on an interesting item sold at a marine auction at Sotheby’s. It was the female figurehead from The Star of Tasmania, and sold for £14,400 ($41,370). The price was well above a pre-sale estimate of £12,000. Sotheby’s said the seller was a New Zealander who did not wish to talk to the media.
The painted pine figure had been salvaged after the 1868 wreck by Captain Sewell, harbourmaster at Oamuru. What happened to her after that is a mystery. However, according to Sotheby’s she was purchased in the 1950s by an antiques dealer after being found on a New Zealand farm blocking a hole in a hedge.. What? In a hedge?
And who purchased the figurehead in 2003? Well I’m not sure, but eventually she made her way back home to Aberdeen, where she is displayed in the city’s maritime museum. Goodness me, what adventures the lady had!
For another shipping story relating to Tasmania CLICK HERE