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"The past revealed" Top 5 Page for this destination Museums / Galleries Tip by iandsmith

Museums / Galleries, Sydney: 5 reviews and 9 photos

  Part of Australia's maritime heritage
by iandsmith

Favorite thing: The three-masted-iron-barque James Craig is one of only four restored tall sailing ships of its kind in the world and the only one providing an ocean-going experience regularly to the general public with its day adventures
Majestic windjammers and their billowing white sails were a common sight around the world in the 1800’s, and boarding at Wharf 7 on Darling harbour, one can’t help but feel they are stepping back in time as the hand crafted timbers creak and shift gently beneath your feet.
The crew of trained and qualified volunteers busy themselves on the 20 kilometres of ropes and rigging, setting some of the 21 sails to get the ship underway. With the crew doing in all the hard work, passengers are able to explore the ship or just relax and soak it all in.
Originally known as the Clan Mcleod when it was built in 1874 in the United Kingdom, the hull of the 55m long vessel was constructed of 13mm thick iron plates.
Specifically designed to carry cargo, the deck had 3 hatches giving access to her 6m deep hold, with the lowest boom on each of the large 19m high masts used as cranes for transferring loads.
Sailing across nearly every ocean, the Clan Mcleod first traversed Australian waters in 1877 during a voyage to New Zealand, finally docking in Brisbane in 1879.
With the advent of steam she was sold to a new owner and based out of New York, delivering cargo to New Zealand via the Cape of Good Hope and returning through the treacherous seas of Cape Horn. Sailing in the southern oceans was not for the faint hearted with risks of gales, heavy seas and icebergs as she rounded Cape Horn 23 times.
Eventually sold to Mr J.J Craig of New Zealand, she arrived in her new home port of Auckland in 1901 to work the trans-Tasman routes, and was renamed the James Craig in honour of his son. The original ships bell engraved with the name Clan Mcleod was preserved by the Craig family and now hangs on the forward deck near the huge anchors.

Fondest memory: A transport shortage during World War I brought the vessel a new lease of life, but with war's end the duties were again cut back as she was unable to compete with steamers.
November 1925 saw the ship sold to a Tasmanian coal company and stripped to a barge. After a 1930 storm caused her to break anchor and run aground creating a navigational hazard, a hole was blown in the hull and she settled on the bottom in the shallow water of Recherche Bay for the next 42 years.
In 1972 volunteers from the Australian Heritage Fleet refloated the hull, transporting it to Hobart and then Sydney where restoration work began in February 1981.
Exploration of the ship reveals the treasures of the relatively luxurious saloon and Captains quarters lovingly restored with wood panelling, carvings, and period furniture.
On the deck above is the ship's huge wheel and steering system. Found in a scout den in Tasmania it was thought the wheel may have been originally from the James Craig, but research shows it is actually from her sister ship.
Amazingly the coal stored in the hold when she went down protected several sections of the hull from corrosion, with the original iron plates easily recognised around the ship by pitting patterns under the paint.
The vessel is now fully operational after 30 years and $18 million of restoration work. It can be visited dockside daily, and sails to sea regularly on day trips with its crew of Heritage Fleet volunteers sailing the ship, while passengers relax and are plied with food and drink.
In March 2003 the James Craig received the Maritime Heritage Award from the World Ship Trust in recognition of the “outstanding restoration and preservation of this historic ship”, going on to say “James Craig is an inspiration to all who seek to restore and preserve the maritime heritage of the world”.
For this info I acknowledge Carl Chapman who also has some excellent photos at his site.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 3, 2005
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