225th Anniversary of the Wrecking of His Majesty's Ship Sirius off Norfolk Island

Media Release

13 March 2015

Next Thursday, 19 March 2015, marks the 225th anniversary of the wrecking of the HMS Sirius at Sydney Bay Norfolk Island. As a result many additional visitors are on Norfolk Island.

The Sirius was at the heart of Australia's history as the flagship of the First Fleet. The wreck on the reef at Kingston, Norfolk Island is of significant heritage value to our nation.

Within six weeks of establishing the settlement at Port Jackson, New South Wales on 26 January 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip assigned his Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King the task of establishing what is now Australia's second oldest settlement on Norfolk Island. They officially arrived 6 March 1788 on what we just commemorated as Foundation Day on the Australian Territory of Norfolk Island.

HMS Sirius was one of only two First Fleet ships which remained to service the fledging Australian colonies following the establishment of these settlements. The Sirius was the Colony's naval defence, as well as its primary supply line and communication link with the outside world.

On 19 March 1790 HMS Sirius was wrecked on the reef on the southern coast of Norfolk Island. The Sirius was on a supply mission which included a planned journey to southern China.

The wreck is across what most now call Slaughter Bay—just off shore from the World Heritage Listed Australian Convict Site at Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA).

To mark the 225th anniversary of the wrecking of HMS Sirius, a public commemorative ceremony will be held at the Kingston foreshore Thursday, 19 March from 8.30—8.50am. All members of the community and visitors are invited to attend.

This event is an opportunity to acknowledge this important part of our nation's history. Those who came before us shaped the modern nation Australia has become today.

It is important to also acknowledge the vital role played by the Heritage and Museum teams within the Kingston Arthur's Vale Heritage Area. These caring professionals have ensured today's generation of Australians understand the long standing and close ties between the Territory of Norfolk island and Australia's broader national history. Their role in preserving and interpreting this First Fleet pioneer history is greatly appreciated. Australians have made a strong contribution to furthering the discipline of maritime archaeology.

Note: In further support of this important commemoration, Government House Charity Open Day will have extended hours on Wednesday 18 March—12.00 noon to 3.30pm.

The Hon Gary Hardgrave