On This Day …

5th October 1789

This is what a well-built hoy might have looked like.

Less than two years after Australia was first colonised, our first ferry was launched. At first the government discouraged any large boats from being built, due to convicts who liked to try to escape. But, with the settlement of Rose Hill (now Parramatta), it quickly became a necessity.

In those early days, the bush tracks were still rather dangerous with the chance of attack by the natives, so travel by river made the journey much safer. Thus, the Rose Hill Packet was built and launched.

This boat, a hoy — a small one-masted vessel resembling a barge — was approximately 38ft in length and could carry thirty passengers. However, those passengers most likely had to aid in the rowing to get to their destination.

Image by J Bar – Parramatta River

Because of limited tools and inferior timber, the Rose Hill Packet was not much more than a flat hunk of wood, and soon earned the nickname ‘The Lump’. Nevertheless, it managed to cart passengers and cargo up and down the Parramatta River in at least four days, round trip, and it remained in service for eleven years before been replaced with better built vessels.

If you had to travel from Sydney to Parramatta in 1789, would you have risked the bush tracks and the aboriginals, or would you have braved the waters on a rough-hewn vessel known as ‘the lump’?

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Published in: on 5th October, 2012 at 10:56 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Probably the river route!
    1789, hey? If I’m there… can I be a really important man’s wife? Not keen on the convict experience. 😉

    • Hmmm, but would you have manned one of the oars? But definitely yes, I think you would have to be an important man’s wife.


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