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The OPHIR on the Hawkesbury River

Date: 1901
Sight: 100 x 100 mm
Overall: 328 x 328 x 37 mm, 1.25 kg
Display Dimensions: 330 x 330 x 40 mm
Medium: Gouache paint, board, gilt frame
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00018994
Place Manufactured:Hawkesbury

User Terms

    The object is a gouache painting on board. The circular image depicts the OPHIR on a bright sunny day (centre, midground). A small bushy headland is located in the foreground; mountains and clouds can be seen in the background. Text on verso reads, 'The OPHIR on the Hawkesbury River on the Duchess of York's birthday May 26th 1901'.

    SignificanceIn 1901 RMS OPHIR served as HMS OPHIR to take the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (the future King George V and Queen Mary) on their tour of the British Empire. The visit was scheduled to open the new Federal Parliament in Melbourne.
    HistoryAt the time of Federation, HMS OPHIR was famous for bringing to Australia the Duke and Duchess of York to preside at the opening of the first federal parliament, it was Australia's third royal visit. After the opening held in May 1901 in
    Melbourne, the Royal party made its way to Sydney.
    The ship was an Orient Line steamer that had been charted for the occasion.
    Away from all the pomp and ceremony, here is a charming vignette of a Royal yacht in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings, de Martino was the last of the Royal marine artists, of whom Brierley is probably the most famous. He is represented in NMM, Greenwich. Although elderly he has, perhaps with some studio assistance, executed an attractive, almost impressionistic study of the Hawkesbury, at the time virtually virgin bush. OPHIR had made its way there to celebrate the Duchess of York's birthday on 26 May 1901.
    A facsimile of Petty Officer Harry Price's handwritten and illustrated account of the cruise of the HMS OPHIR in 1901
    was published in 1980 by Webb and Bower titled 'The Royal Tour - 1901'. He describes the OPHIR on the Hawkesbury:
    "On Friday we left for the Hawkesbury river, to embark their Royal Highnesses, arriving there the middle of the day, this river has been most appropriately named the "Australian Rhine", as its beauties are of the best and rarest. The next day their Royal Highnesses arrived by the stern weel steamer the CAPTAIN COOK; or at least the GENERAL GARDON, I should say, and escorted by the CAPTAIN COOK, Their Royal Highnesses did not look much the worse for their prolonged stay on shore. The next day the Royal party had a delightful picnic up the river in the GENERAL GORDON, when they returned I noticed that the captain of the boat was in the seventh heaven of delight at the honour. I suppose of taking the Duke and Duchess for the trip, and he left us an happy man, with a present from the Duke I don’t know what it was to day was the Duchess's birthday and the ships dressed rainbow fashion and fired a salute. In the evening the Duchess sent word to the men that they could drink her health on her birthday; rum was served out on the upper deck, and both the Duke and Duchess had a tot of Navy Rum too. The Duke then stepped forward and said he had been asked by the Duchess to thank the ships company for their kind wishes for her birthday; The whole ships company then gave three ringing cheers, and the band played god bless the "Prince of Wales". A most laughable incident now occurred, one man started to sing; She's a jolly good fellow, and the whole ships company took it up and gave it lip, the Duchess seemed greatly amused, the men then gave three more cheers, and then spliced the main brace in true nautical style. I may mention that this was the second time we spliced the main brace, the first time being at the Dukes invitation the day we crossed the line. The next day we got up anchor, and made for Sydney. As soon as we got outside we were met by the Australian fleet, who saluted us and then took up their positions astern of our escort the ST GEORGE and the JUNO."
    (Price, Harry. The Royal Tour - 1901 Or The Cruise Of HMS OPHIR. Webb and Bower, 1980.)
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