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Superstitions and History


It was a common custom for the chief mate to finish each day’s log with the words:
so ends this day fore and aft

Capt Sir John Williams quoted in ‘So ends this day”

In 1976 I went on the hunt for any songs remembered from the visit of the Great White Fleet to Sydney Harbour. It was a grand show of force and set off a major celebration. Capt Lovell of the Sydney maritime Museum assisted me in my search and yielded the following.

The Visit of the great White Fleet to Sydney Harbour in 1908

Sydney Maritime Museum

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River Folk

From Adventures in the Aust Bush by JB Mummery 1873
1862 March – June

When the gold rush fever struck Sydney one band of hopeful Sydney natives were seen heading out West and on hitting their first river bend they were seen to take off their clothes and walk along the river hopeful of feeling the nuggets in the river bed.

Maritime Figure Heads

From The Home Magazine 1933 article by D G McDougall ‘Treasures of Garden Island’

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Tub Races

Every year in the 60s and 70s of the 19th c they held tub race day at Woolloomooloo bay. Using half-sawn hogshead tubs the fishermen would sit on a low stool and paddle around Pinchgut and back to the Woolloomooloo bay.


A Poem on the Wreck of the Dunbar

Songster size. 1/- James Waugh , Sydney. 1857
First line:
Fierce blows the gale, and high the waves are tossed.

The merchant ship ‘Dunbar’ was shipwrecked around midnight August 20th, 1857, almost under the lighthouse, at South Head, Port Jackson – now known as Watson’s Bay. The Dunbar was 1980 tons with 121 people on board, 59 crew and 62 passengers, mostly long-term residents and ‘respected old Colonists who were on the way back from a visit to the father-land. The Captain was also well known in the Colony and much esteemed’. There was only one survivor of this terrible shipwreck.

Maritime Sayings

Aussie mag.

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Account of a Voyage to Sydney by Ensign Alexander Huey

On the HMS DROMEDARY accommodation by the Hindustan
Departed Yarmouth to Port Jackson may 1809 arriving April 1810

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The Bridgewater Jerry

Name given to the mist that surrounds the Bridgewater, Tasmania. Quoted Highway in Van Dieman’s Land Stancombe 1968

Boiling a billy on board a sheoaker

The Aust Jnl 1872 from ‘My First Whaling Cruise’ by Tasman.
Who was on board a sheoaker (barge used in Tasmania for timber cutting).

“Seizing an old nail can with a lot of holes in the lower half of it he placed a wisp of lighted oakum in it and on this 2 – 3 handfuls of wood chips and the bark of a sheoak tree; on this he placed a tin billy of water and on its boiling threw in a handful of mixed tea and sugar which he took from a canvas bag hanging below the forecastle.”