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HM Ships GALATEA and CHALLENGER in Sydney Harbour

Date: 1868
550 x 746 mm, 3.5 kg
Display dimensions: 610 x 770 x 50 mm
Mount (test): 300 x 333 x 333 mm, 333 kg
Medium: Watercolour paint, paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00004606
Place Manufactured:Sydney
Related Place:Sydney Harbour,

User Terms

    To mark the royal visit of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh to Sydney in HMS GALATEA in 1868, a welcome was provided to show off the best of the colony. Merchant ships, sailing clubs and the Naval Brigade provided escorts and procession, colour and salutes; people lined the harbour entrance and foreshores to watch and welcome the Queen's son. Newspapers reported the GALATEA's progress from England and the events which happened at each port where the Duke stopped. It was a magnificent event and the Sydney visit is captured by Garling in this painting of GALATEA and its escorts HM Ships CHALLENGER and CHARYBDIS anchored in Farm Cove.
    SignificanceThe watercolour provides a significant depiction of the commemoration of Prince Alfred's visit to Australia in 1867-68.
    HistoryThe wooden screw frigate HMS GALATEA was launched at Woolwich Dockyard, England on 14 August 1859. The Duke's visit to Australia was made between 1867 and 1868. He was in command of the steam frigate GALATEA, arriving in Adelaide on 30 October 1867. He visited Melbourne, Tasmania, Sydney and Brisbane leaving Sydney on 6 April 1868. The infamous highlight of the tour was the shooting in the back (not fatally) of the Duke by an Irishman at a picnic on Clontarf Beach, Sydney. Despite this event the Duke paid another visit to Australia in 1869, this time unofficially. Prince Alfred Ernest Albert (1844-1900) was the second son of Queen Victoria.

    His visit created quite a frenzy, offering the people of the Australia an opportunity to show that they could organise a spectacle as fine as any seen in England for the Queen herself. Newspaper reports reveal the delight and the pomp and circumstance of the Prince's visit.

    From The Mercury (Hobart), 29 March 1867:
    "ORDERS have been received by the mail for the immediate return of H.M.S. Esk to England," says the Geelong Register, "and it is stated that her place will be taken by the Galatea. The latter vessel will be under the command of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, so that before long a prince of the blood may be seen in the
    Australian colonies for the first time."

    From The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 May 1867:
    'The screw steam frigate Galatea, 20, Captain the Duke of Edinburgh, has left Plymouth Sound for Lisbon, Gibraltar, and Malta. After a sojourn of a few months in the Mediterranean she will proceed to Australia, after which Bombay, Calcutta, China, and Japan will be visited. The voyage round the world will involve
    a total absence of about two years.'

    From The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1867:
    (From Yesterday's Gazette)
    THE Commissioners appointed for making all necessary arrangements for the Naval Reception of his Royal Highness have decided upon the following programme, which is hereby published for general information:-
    In order to give H. R. H. a fitting welcome to Port Jackson, the "Galatea" will be met outside the Heads and accompanied to her anchorage, by a fleet composed of the
    merchant steamers of the port. The fairway of the port will be kept clear for the passage of the Galatea and her escort; and that portion of the harbour situated south of the line between Bradley's Head and Kiribilli, and north of the line between Shark Island and Fort Macquarie, will be reserved exclusively for the formation and use of the squadron of escort.

    The First Division of the Steam Fleet will form in two lines, in the reserve between Fort Denison and Bradley's Head, under the direction of the Commodore and Vice-Commodore, for the purpose of proceeding to sea to escort his Royal Highness into port, as shown in plan No. 1.

    The Second Division of the Steam Fleet will assemble off Watson's Bay, taking care not to obstruct the fairway, and will, under the direction of the harbour authorities, follow the first division on its return, escorting the Galatea. The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron will rendezvous in Rose Bay, between Shark Island and Shark Point, under the orders of the Commodore, who, wind and weather permitting, will follow tbe procession, and after the Galatea has anchored, pass round her to the position assigned to his squadron in Farm Cove.

    The Prince Alfred Yacht squadron will rendezvous in Rose Bay, between Shark Island and Point Piper, under the orders of the officer in charge, who will follow a similar plan of sailing to that adopted by the Royal Sydney Yacht squadron.

    Merchant ships and coasters desirous of showing their loyalty by dressing ships at anchor will be placed north of the line, between Bradley's Head and Kiribilli.

    Coasters, ballast boats, and smaller crafts under way will cruise south of the line between Shark Island and Fort Macquarie, east of Mrs. Macquarie's Chair.

    The Naval Brigade Boats will row guard on the reserve lines until after the Galatea and her escort have passed up.

    Warps and buoys, near the position in which the "Galatea" will anchor, will be provided as shown in plan, for the accommodation of row boats wishing to make fast. The positions laid down in plan No. 2 are those assigned to the different squadrons of the flotilla after the "Galatea" has anchored.

    Special orders for carrying out the details of the programme and preventing accidents, will be issued by the officers in charge of the different squadrons.
    On the evening of his Royal Highness' arrival, the vessels which have taken part in the demonstration will conclude the event by the discharge of fireworks, and a general illumination, to commence at 8 o'clock ; at 9 o'clock, precisely bonfires will simultaneously burst forth on all the prominent positions round the harbour, and all her Majesty's loyal subjects (more particularly the residents on the North Shore) are hereby invited to give their cordial co-operation, in order that the effect produced may be worthy of the eldest colony of the Australian group, and of the occasion which has called it forth.

    It being necessary, for the success of the demonstration and the prevention of accidents, that the most rigid adherence to the programme should be observed, the Commissioners request that masters and owners of vessels and boats, and all others afloat, will assist them in carrying out the object intended, by a strict compliance with the regulations laid down. The arrangements for the official landing, to take place on the following day, will be duly published, for general
    information, together with any further details that may be requisite.'

    From The Sydney Morning Herald (advertisers' section), 21 December 1867:

    Here's to the Flag that's stood for years
    The battle and the breeze ;
    And here's a cheer for the Galatea,
    Now cruising theo Southern seas. Right nobly let our banners wave
    A regal welcome here -
    A cheer for the Prince, and the gallant band
    On the good ship Galatea.

    The citizens of New South Wales,
    With flags triumphant, pour
    In thousands to the Sydney Heads,
    To see him reach the shore.
    From every lofty spire and dome
    Gay pennants now appear,
    For every loyal heart will greet
    The good ship Galatea.

    Then subjects of a mighty Queen,
    Do homage to her son,
    And let your Banners well be seen,
    Unequalled here by none.
    Go early to J. MYERS' shop,
    His Flags, at price, not dear,
    Will give a welcome to the Prince,
    And the noble Galatea.

    Flags of every description for the rejoicings.
    Note the address,
    J. MYERS. General Outfitter, 548, George-street South, opposite the Burial Ground'

    From The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 1868:
    Never since the foundation of the colony has there been witnessed within its limits a sight like that which was presented yesterday in the city of Sydney. When his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh entered our harbour as Captain of the Galatea, he was welcomed by scores of thousands on the water and tens of thousands on the shore; but on the occasion of his public entry, yesterday, as Prince Alfred, there were all the signs of a Royal progress. It seemed as though each one vied with his neighbour in regard to the display of loyalty, and the masses which lined the streets through which the procession passed were, in density, not exceeded even by London crowds, when the Queen in person threads the thronged streets to Westminster. The distance was, of course much shorter, but the city turned out en masse, the suburbs came to town, and tens of thousands from the country swelled the throng. The streets were hung with banners and flagged arches stretched from side to side, while ferns and flowers and fresh green leaves were wreathed into words of welcome. The bells rang forth a merry peal, All business was suspended. Some large windows were unshuttered, but the ordinary wares were eclipsed by ladies who waved their kerchiefs from behind the plate glass fronts. From turrets, balconies, and stands cheer succeeded cheer. The enthusiasm of the people was not much abated by the heavy showers which fell at intervals throughout the day. Those who did not see the Prince under very favourable circumstances must have had a thorough soaking, but they regarded the visitation with stoical resolution, and fell back upon the agricultural consolation that it was fine weather for the crops; and certainly after so long a season of drought the continuous rain was regarded as a blessing.

    At 10 o'clock the carriages began to move towards the landing place. The procession formed in Albert-street, a place which on ordinary occasions is of little note, and hence there was some difficulty in finding the proper entrance. Some, after trying the vicinity of Prince Albert's Statue, came down Elizabeth-street, where there was a permanent barrier. Several carriages made their way by the footpath but others were stopped by the guards, who performed their duty with energy and promptitude.

    It was interesting to watch the formation of the procession, but a still more interesting scene was presented in the harbour, where the men-of-war were at anchor.

    A casual observer looking at the Galatea, Challenger, and Charybdis, at a few minutes to 8 o'clock yesterday morning, would have thought an unusual quietness prevailed on board. The sentinels pacing their rounds seemed the only signs of life afloat, when, on a signal from the flagship, the three vessels were instantaneously dressed with bunting. So rapid was the "dressing," that a piece of mechanism could scarcely have accomplished it more perfectly. The Galatea displayed the Trinity House flag at the fore, the Royal standard at the main, and the St. George's ensign at the mizen. The Challenger also flew the Royal standard at the main, and led off in the salute, which all the ships and the fort fired at 8 a.m. Soon after half-past eleven, preparations for the landing were perceptible. The Prince's gig took her place alongside the Galatea's gangway, and as the strains of the National Anthem, performed by her band, came stealing over the water, the rigging of the war vessels swarmed with men preparatory to manning yards. The Prince and suite took their places in the boat shortly before noon under a salute from the guns of the Vernon.'

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: HMS GALATEA and CHALLENGER in Sydney Harbour

    Web title: HM Ships GALATEA and CHALLENGER in Sydney Harbour

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