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Three-masted barque RONA (ex POLLY WOODSIDE) with sails set and underway

Date: c 1910
Medium: Emulsion on glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Mr and Mrs Glassford
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: ANMS1092[020]

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    SignificanceThe Hall photographic collection provides an important pictorial record of recreational boating in Sydney Harbour from the 1890s to the 1930s. The collection documents the lively sailing scene in Sydney during this period and features images of vessels ranging from large racing and cruising yachts to the great array of skiffs and the emerging technologies of motorboats. Images of many iconic vessels, such as RONA, are also included in this visual record.
    HistoryThe barque POLLY WOODSIDE was built by Workman Clark & Co. Belfast, Ireland in 1885, for William J Woodside and Co. also of Belfast. This was a one ship company and the vessel was named after the owner's wife. The iron-hulled vessel traded between the United Kingdom and South America before it was sold in 1904 to Arthur Hughes Turnbull of Christchurch, New Zealand and renamed RONA. The RONA was purchased to replace the WEST AUSTRALIAN which had been wrecked in 1903. RONA changed hands twice more in New Zealand until sold to Australia in 1922.

    During its New Zealand ownership RONA traded across to Australia and around the coast with cargoes of timber, salt, manure, cement, grain, produce and coal. In the latter part of World War I RONA sailed to the USA and back, filling in for the losses in shipping due to that war. The last voyage was in 1921, carrying coal from Newcastle, Australia to New Zealand. It was then sold to the Adelaide Steamship Co. and brought across to Melbourne to be used as a coal hulk. It served in this role for the remainder of its working life, including World War II duties with the Royal Australian Navy in New Guinea.

    In 1968, Howard Smith Industries (who had taken over Adelaide Steamship Co.) sold the POLLY WOODSIDE for one cent to the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). The potential restoration of POLLY WOODSIDE had been encouraged since 1962 when moves were initiated by well known ship enthusiast Karl Kortum from San Francisco and Dr Graeme Robertson. It was one of the very few remaining iron hulled barques which could be rebuilt in display condition to show off the impressive square rig.

    In 1977 the restored POLLY WOODSIDE was opened to the public. It was floating in the old Duke's and Orrs' Dry Dock on the Yarra River in Melbourne, where it remains as a popular tourist attraction in 2006.

    (Prepared from research material supplied by Polly Woodside Maritime Museum)

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