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Washington Island discovered by Captain Edmund Fanning, 12 June 1798

Date: 1957-1958
Overall: 430 x 510 x 22 mm, 1.85 kg
Medium: Watercolour on board
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Maps, charts and plans
Object Name: Chart
Object No: 00027086
Place Manufactured:Teraina

User Terms

    This watercolour chart of Washington Island, Kiribati, was sketched by amateur artist and professional seaman Captain Brett Hilder of MV TULAGI in 1957-1958.

    SignificanceThis chart is representative of the work by prolific amateur painter Brett Hilder, a seaman with Burns Philp and Company. His work offers a valuable and comprehensive record of the experiences of mariners working on commercial vessels between Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Melanesia from the 1930s through to the 1960s.
    HistoryBrett Hilder born in 1911 was the youngest son of renowned watercolourist Jesse Jewhurst Hilder. In 1927 he became a crewmember for ships owned by Burns Philp & Co. He traveled extensively to the Dutch East Indies and South Pacific Islands, and eventually became a ship's master. During WWII he taught navigation to Australian air crew and attained the rank of Wing Commander. He flew on Catalina flying boats for the Royal Australian Air Force. After the war Hilder resumed his career as a merchant sea-captain. he was captain on the TULAGI from 1955 to 1961.

    During the war Hilder started painting watercolours depicting landscapes, details and portraits of the people and places he visited. He also wrote extensively about navigation and his travels for magazines such as 'Walkabout'. Hilder is the author of numerous books on his own experiences and in 1966 published 'The Heritage of JJ Hilder' a book about his father's art career. This accompanied a national touring exhibition of his father's work organised by the Queensland Art Gallery. Brett Hilder passed away in April 1981.

    On the 11th of December 1949 Hilder visited Washington Island to collect a cargo of copra with the MV MULIAMA. In his work 'Navigators of the South Seas', Hilder described how in the first three days they only loaded 38 tonnes of copra. The weather went from bad to worse and the MV MULIAMA had to leave . It returned to the island six days later to collect the remaining 600 tonnes of copra, but the weather had not improved significnatly. Hilder described how it became dangerous to load and take the boats through the surf.

    The navigational sketch depicts Washington Island known as Teraina by the Kiribati community. The chart includes geographical features such as the islands unique fresh water lake, peat bogs and canals. The chart also includes details of the ocean depths around the island and a navigational bearing from a distinct landmark on the island.

    Hilder made charts of several harbours and islands where he felt those provided by the Hydrographic Service were inadequate. He used his charts for his own reference on future voyages. Hilder also sent copies of his work to the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service and has been credited in some of published charts. He was an exceptional navigator who founded the Australian Institute of Navigation and trained RAAF pilots in navigation during World War II.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Watercolour chart of Teraina Island, Kiribati, sketched by Captain Brett Hilder

    Primary title: Washington Island discovered by Captain Edmund Fanning, 12 June 1798

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