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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 7

I The First 100 Years 1788-1888

II Railways

III Motorised Vehicles

IV Aviation

V Modern Shipping
i Shipbuilding Industry
ii Changes in the Shipping Industry Through Improved Technology

VI Innovative Small Craft

VII Conclusion

VIII Acknowledgements

IX Contributors



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Shipbuilding Industry

The Australian shipbuilding industry which had begun with the launch of the 10 ton Rose Hill Packet in 1789 continued to grow with the establishment of the Colonial Government's shipyard in 1797 and the following year the first privately owned shipyard was opened by James Underwood at Pyrmont N.S.W..

On August 1, 1839 The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company 'for the purpose of building or purchasing such steam vessels as may be found necessary to ply between Sydney and Hunter River' was formed and operated sister paddle ships Rose, Thistle and Shamrock, each of 200 tons.

In 1857 the company completely reorganised and changes its name to The Australian Steam Navigation Company. Three years later, the first iron-hulled vessel built in Australia, Ballarat was launched and the report at the time noted the event.

An historic event occurred on February 16 1853, when the Ballarat, a 130 ton steamer, was launched from the company's works at Pyrmont. She was an iron steamer, the ribs and plates for which were brought out from England in Yarra Yarra and she was put together at Pyrmont, her engines came from the Raven, which had been wrecked on the Macleay River Bar. Her launching created great interest in Sydney and was indeed another milestone in the nautical affairs of the colony.

The ship building industry, although active in various States, did not expand significantly until, in 1911, a naval ship building programme was introduced at Cockatoo Island, the first vessel launched being the destroyer Warrego.

Just prior to the Second World War the Broken Hill Proprietory Company opened a ship building yard at Whyalla and Evans Deakin in Brisbane shortly afterwards. These two companies constructed 74 merchant vessels over 300 tons gross in the period 1942-1972. The Whyalla works built a number of ships over 50,000 tons d.w. such as Bogong bulkcarrier 55,000 tons launched 1967 and Amanda Miller tanker 65,748 tons launched 1971. The largest vessel constructed by Evans Deakin over the 30-year period was The Robert Miller, a sister ship to the Amanda Miller mentioned above.

The principal Australian ship building yards in recent times are the Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard Pty. Ltd., Sydney, Williamstown Dockyard Victoria, Carrington Slipway at Newcastle, Australian Shipbuilding Industries Kwinana, W.A., and North Queensland Engineers and Agents Cairns, Queensland. The BHP Whyalla and Evans Deakin shipyards ceased operation in 1978 and 1976 respectively, and in 1987 the N.S.W. State Government announced the closure of the State Dockyard at Newcastle.

Since 1970 Australia's large shipbuilding capacity has suffered a major decline. Construction of large vessels has been phased out and the industry is reduced to speciality craft and naval vessels.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Shipbuilding Industries, Kwinana, W.A.; Australian Steam Navigation Company; Carrington Slipways Pty Ltd, Newcastle; Evans Deakin and Company Pty Ltd, Brisbane; Hunter River Steam Navigation Company; N.S.W. State Dockyard; North Queensland Engineers and Agents, Cairns, Qld; Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd, Sydney; Whyalla Shipbuilding and Engineering Works; Williamstown Dockyard, Vic.

People in Bright Sparcs - Campbell, Robert; Underwood, James

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 522 - 523, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher