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Watercolour chart of Arorae or Hurd Island, Kiribati

Date: 1957
Overall: 383 x 558 mm, 2 mm, 0.25 kg
Medium: Watercolour on board
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Maps, charts and plans
Object Name: Chart
Object No: 00027089
Place Manufactured:Arorae

User Terms

    This watercolour chart of Arorae or Hurd Island, Kiribati, was sketched by amateur artist and professional seaman Captain Brett Hilder on board MV TULAGI in 1957.

    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 aboard 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.

    The navigational sketch surveys the recommended anchorage points for the island, showing island landmarks and depths. The chart includes navigational bearings to island landmarks and details such as recommendations for the best time and place to anchor.

    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.

    MV TULAGI (2) was built for the company in 1954 and operated until 1971.

    In 'Navigators of the South Seas', Hilder describes Arorea as a small island pointing south-east into the trade winds. He tells of borrowing a bicycle and traveling with a local guide to visit the island's navigation stones. He recalls the eight stones pointed in five different directions and describes how he pondered for many months regarding their use.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Arorae or Hurd Island

    Web title: Watercolour chart of Arorae or Hurd Island, Kiribati

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