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Ship model representing the colonial cruisers HMS KATOOMBA, MILDURA and WALLAROO

Date: 1890
Overall: 1910 x 2240 x 780 mm
Medium: Wood, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Ship model
Object No: 00006256
Place Manufactured:United Kingdom

User Terms

    This builder’s model represents the British Royal Navy's Pearl class, third-class protected cruisers HMS KATOOMBA, HMS MILDURA and HMS WALLAROO at a scale of 1:48. The cruisers formed part of the Auxiliary Squadron serving in Australian and New Zealand waters until 1906.

    SignificanceThe three ships represented in this model were used to protect the coastline of the Australian and New Zealand colonies. They are indicative of a period when Australia's naval requirements were increasing.
    HistoryDuring the 19th century the British Royal Navy (RN) divided the world into strategic zones, known as stations. Each station had a squadron of warships that cruised its waters to protect British shipping interests. Until the 1850s Australasia was included under the East India Station. But in 1859, after pressure from the colonial assemblies in Australia and New Zealand, the Admiralty formed the Australia Station as a separate command.

    The "Pearl" class cruiser was a class of nine 'third class' cruisers designed by Sir William White, five of which were paid for by Australian colonies to serve in Australian waters under the terms of the Imperial Defence Act of 1887.

    Most Australian colonies had their own volunteer navies. Wary of invasion, colonial authorities wanted more coastal protection than the RN provided. They formed coastal and harbour defences of their own from the 1850s. The colonies were authorised to raise local forces by a British Act of Parliament in 1865. In the 1880s the Australian and New Zealand colonial governments were alarmed by Russian warship activity in the Pacific. In 1887 - under the Australasian Defence Act - they persuaded Britain to provide an additional force on the Australia Station to be called the Auxiliary Squadron. It consisted of five protected cruisers (KATOOMBA, MILDURA, WALLAROO, RINGAROOMA and TAURANGA) and two torpedo gunboats (BOOMERANG and KARRAKATTA).

    Three of the cruisers - KATOOMBA (Ex-PANDORA), MILDURA (Ex-PELORUS) and WALLAROO (Ex-PERSIAN) - were built by W G Armstrong, Mitchell & Co at their Elswick Shipyard in 1889 and 1890. In 1887 Armstrong's merged with the armament works of Sir Joseph Whitworth and the company was renamed Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Company Ltd.

    On 27 August 1889 the first of the Auxiliary Squadron was launched on the Tyne at the Elswick shipyard. The colonies, including New Zealand, paid part of the costs of construction and maintenance on condition that none of the ships left the Australia Station without consent from colonial authorities. Up until that time some or all of the RN ships on the Australia Station could be deployed at any time to deal with any emergency elsewhere. This potentially left the colonies undefended and open to attack.

    The Squadron arrived in Sydney on 5 September 1891 via the Suez Canal and Batavia (present-day Jakarta) led by HMS KATOOMBA; they were given a gala welcome.

    In spite of celebrations upon their arrival, there were some critics who said the money would have been better spent on building ships for each colonial government to control. Others said they would not be suitable for the vast coastline and rough seas but nevertheless the Squadron soon became an integral part of colonial naval and civilian events. At any one time there were usually two cruisers and one torpedo gunboat kept in reserve. Their main duties were routine cruising and patrol work. KATOOMBA was also the recruitment ship visiting all major Australian ports in 1905. MILDURA's exciting moment came when she was a unit of the naval division that visited New Zealand during the Duke and Duchess of York's tour in the Royal Liner OPHIR. WALLAROO spent much time in New Zealand waters and in 1900 was deployed to China where she served briefly in operations to subdue the Boxer Rebellion.

    The Squadron remained at the Australia Station until 1903 when HMS KARRAKATTA was the first to return to England; KATOOMBA was the last in 1906. Having spent all their working lives in southern seas, the ships were paid off and sold for scrap. WALLAROO extended her life in various harbour jobs and was finally sent to the ship breakers after World War I.

    The 'protected' cruiser had little or no side armour but did have an impressive internal steel protective deck covering the machinery spaces, the magazines and in some cases the steering gear. This deck was 63.5 mm (2 1/2" inches) thick.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Schiffsmodell, das die Kolonial Kreuzers HMS KATOOMBA, MILDURA und WALLAROO darstellt

    Assigned title: modelschip dat de koloniale kruisers HMS KATOOMBA, MILDURA en WALLAROO voorstelt

    Web title: Ship model representing the colonial cruisers HMS KATOOMBA, MILDURA and WALLAROO

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