Saturday, 25 July 2009

The romance of the high seas

Gangway at the Overseas Passenger terminal at Circular Quay. The only boats that depart from here these days are luxury cruise ships. Most often they are the ones which cannot fit under the bridge (like The World Condominium ship).

Circular Quay is in the heart of historical Sydney. These waters will have seen convict ships, clippers and windjammers, steamers, the departure of troops to wars like the first and second world wars, and afterwards the arrival of refugees from those great conflicts. In the 1960s, before the advent of mass air travel, boatloads of young people left for adventures in Europe, first stop usually England (Southampton Docks, probably).

Below: A collage of ships at West Circular Quay from photos in the National Library of Australia collection (to those who have asked me what I use to do collages, the answer is the free software, Picasa)

Top l to r: Circular Quay West by Harold Cazneaux (bridge nearly complete), 1931; View from Harbour Bridge by Frank Hurley, date not stated; cruise ship The Oriana, by Wolfgang Sievers, 1961; during construction of the bridge by CE Wellings, 1930.
Middle, l to r: Orcades leaving by Jeff Carter, about 1955; departure of troops, possibly for Boer War, about 1900; departure of troops for Sudan, 1885.
Bottom l to r: Night view by Wolfgang Sievers, 1964; entertainers during Sydney Olympics 2000 by Wendy McDougall; lithograph by Samuel Thomas Gill, 1865; by Frank Hurley, date not stated.

(Sorry about turning on the word verification, but a spate of annoying, repetitive spam hit me lately, so I'll leave it on for a while)


  1. Terrific post, Sally. Right up my alley way. I have not seen three of those images before. Am especially interested in the two war departures in the centre. The Sudan departure shows one of the turrets of Fort Macquarie even before it became a tram terminus!

    I spent this morning on a Historic Houses Trust walking tour of Wooloomooloo. Fascinating ... I now have to retrace her steps except more slowly.

  2. interesting post, I love the old photos in your collage.

  3. Thanks for all this history.
    Yes, the romance of the high seas, so true.
    When in Sydney I always love to hang around that gangway and dream about actually boarding those huge ships.

    When you list all those historic events at Circular Quay like you did, Australia seems older than she is.

  4. Great post. Sorry you've been hit by spam. Hope you get it sorted soon.