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Steamer Tamar

Captain Ellis (1835);
Captain William Mulhall 1837; 
Captain Allen (1848)


The Tamar, Captain Wales in command, arrived in Launceston from the Port of Glasgow, Scotland in September 1834. Passengers included Mrs. Bourne, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Bain, Jane Bourne, Harriet Bourne, Catherine Bourne, Elizabeth Bourne, Mary Bourne, Ann Bourne, William Bourne, William Learmont, John M. Saunders.(1)

Timothy Nowlan purchased an allotment of land from E.C. Close at Morpeth to be used as a wharf for the Tamar (2)

The Tamar was owne by the Australian Company which was formed in 1833. This concern, the first of its kind in the colony, purchased the Tamar and the Sophia Jane and added another named the William IV to the fleet. The company had constructed in England the Rose, Shamrock, and Thistle, three steamers which ran successfully for many years under the A.S.N. flag.   The Tamar was used in the Sydney to Hunter River trade.


Under Captain Mulhall the Tamar ran aground briefly in 1837.....

December 1837 -

To the Editor of the Sydney Herald

Through the medium of your Paper, I beg leave to inform the Public, of the particulars of the Tamar steam boat, under my command, grounding on Reid's Mistake Point. About Half past twelve o'clock on Tuesday morning, the point of
Bungaree Norah bearing N.W. Distant between three or four miles.

The course I ordered was N. by E 1/2 E, and nothing to the northward of her course I went below leaving the deck in charge of the Chief Officer, and he must have altered the course two or three points after I was below to have brought the vessel where she grounded.

At half past two, the vessel grounded on the point alluded to, I immediately ran on deck, and order the Engineer to back the engine astern, when the vessel came off without making any water whatever, and continued on the voyage as usual, making no water But, for the satisfaction of the Public, and to suppress false rumours , the owner has ordered her on the patent slip to ascertain the exact damage done by this untoward incident

I have the honor to be Sir, Your humble and obedient Servant,
William Mulhall, Master of the Tamar steamer
....... The Sydney Herald 8 December 1837

The Tamar was offered for sale with other vessels belonging to the General Steam Navigation Company in 1842.


In 1846 the Tamar was owned by The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company. The crew had a narrow escape during a storm on the passage from Sydney to Morpeth on a January afternoon in 1846 when she was struck by lightning when between Lake Macquarie and Red Head. 'In consequence of the rain most of the crew had gone below to shift their clothing with the exception of the man at the wheel and the engineer; the captain was walking the poop when the occurrence took place. The Engineer saw the lightning playing along the foreyard for some time, and ordered the firemen to throw fresh fuel on the fires to create smoke, thinking it would prevent the lightning from entering the funnel. A few minutes after a heavy flash struck the halyard block of the foresail, and running down the halyard (a chain one), shattered the foremast within about four feet of the deck, where it was surrounded by an iron hoop to which the belaying pins were attached. The mast fell over the starboard bow, by which the rail and bulwarks were smashed. The fore cabin steward was coming on deck at the time, and narrowly escaped being crushed; the engineer was standing under the lee of the starboard paddle box when it occurred, but luckily escaped uninjured. When the mast fell the electric fluid is supposed to have passed along the chain, and over the anchor into the sea.

She later underwent a thorough repair. The machinery was taken out and the working parts renewed. New boilers replaced the old by the Company's engineer, Mr. Fyfe. She was also strengthened with new beams in various parts and in June she made an 'experimental trip' a few miles outside the Sydney Heads. It was expected her speed would be nearly equal to the Company's iron boats; and her cabins, for comfort were said to be second to none - especially the ladies' cabin.

**In August 1849 Captain Allen was in command of the new steamer the Eagle on her first trip to Moreton Bay.


[1] Launceston Advertiser 11 September 1834

[2] Sydney Monitor 30 July 1834