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Illawarra Steam Navigation Co. steamship KIAMA

Date: c 1861
Overall: 550 x 745 mm, 2.55 kg
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00003699
Place Manufactured:Sydney Harbour

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    Watercolour painting by Frederick Garling of Illawarra Steam Navigation Company's paddle steamer KIAMA entering Sydney Heads. North Head is shown in the background. The ship flies the Red Ensign at the stern and the company's house flag from the mainmast. PS KIAMA, 104 gross tons and 123 feet (37.5 metres), was built in 1854 to serve ports south of Sydney on the NSW coast, carrying passengers and some cargo. It operated until 1881 when it was hulked.

    SignificanceThe painting is an example of the maritime watercolours of eminent colonial artist Frederick Garling, characterised by thin washes creating light, with even tones, and fine detail from his close knowledge of ships. The ship represents the paddle wheel technology which preceded screw propulsion in the first 50 years of steam. It also represents the New South Wales South Coast trade in the 19th century, and the importance of coastal shipping before the development of rail and road transport finally surpassed the steamer.
    HistoryPS KIAMA was built in 1854 by J G Lawrie at Whiteinch in Scotland for the newly formed Kiama Steam Navigation Company. It had a fire-tube boiler and two 30- horsepower oscillating steam engines. It came to Australia under sail, entering Sydney in April 1855, and was registered at Sydney. The paddle wheels came out as cargo and were fitted in Sydney. It then began operation as a steamer. The Kiama Steam Navigation Company merged into another new company, the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company in 1858. The KIAMA and other ships of the ISN Company's fleet served ports from Wollongong to Merimbula and Moruya, with twice weekly sailings, carrying passengers and some cargo; fleets of smaller vessels also carried cargo. KIAMA had a crew of 16 and could carry 10 cabin passengers and 20 in steerage.

    In 1876 KIAMA was sold to D Sheehy who continued to operate it on the South Coast until 1881, after which it was hulked on Sydney harbour, and broken up in 1914. The Illawarra Steam Navigation Company closed down in 1955, when road and rail services had finally superseded coastal shipping.
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