Norfolk (1798 sloop)

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Norfolk (
A replica of Norfolk
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Launched: 1798
Captured: Wrecked 1800
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 25 (bm)

The Colonial sloop Norfolk was built on Norfolk Island in 1798 of Norfolk Island Pine. She was wrecked in 1800.


"The necessity of a vessel to keep up a more frequent intercourse with Norfolk Island, ...having been much felt by the want of various stores ...occasioned Captain Townson, the Commanding officer, to construct a small decked boat, sloop rigged, in which he sent His letters to this port..." [1] [2]

Geoffrey Ingleton states that Norfolk "... started life as the longboat of HMS Sirius" [3] Cumpston describes Norfolk as, “A decked longboat built at Norfolk I[sland].” [4] Governor Hunter quickly put Norfolk under the command of Matthew Flinders to be used as a survey vessel. In 1798-99 Norfolk was used by Flinders and Bass to circumnavigate Tasmania – proving the existence of Bass Strait. Flinders also took Norfolk north to chart Cook's Morton's Bay (now Moreton Bay) and Hervey's Bay (Hervey Bay). [5] [6]

Norfolk was then used to supply produce from the Winsor Area to Port Jackson, until 1800 when convicts seized her at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. Intending to sail her to Maluku, the convicts ran her aground at what was later called "Pirate Point" on the northern side of the mouth to the Hunter River. Today, the point is in the suburb of Stockton.


In 1998-99 Bern Cuthbertson OAM from Sandy Bay, Tasmania, re-enacted all of Norfolk's journeys in a replica vessel, constructed of Tasmania Huon and Celery Top pines. The replica Norfolk is now on display at The Bass and Flinders Centre in George Town on Tasmania's Tamar River. [7]

A limited amount of sterling silver or 18-carat gold medallions were hand-made to commemorate the voyages of Bern Cuthbertson's Norfolk. These medallions were mainly given to those that sailed with Bern.


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  1. Collins, David (1802), An account of the English colony in New South Wales ..., Vol 2, London: T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, p. 85, retrieved 20 January 2012 [Port Jackson 15 June 1798.]
  2. The Matthew Flinders Electronic Archive at the State Library of New South Wales.
  3. Geoffry C. Inglton "Matthew Flinders Navigator and Chartmaker 1986" ISBN   0-949104-01-9
  4. J.S. Cumpston, Shipping arrivals & departures Sydney, 1788-1825, Roebuck, Canberra, 1977, p.33.
  5. A Voyage to Terra Australis, with an accompanying Atlas. 2 vol. – London : G & W Nicol, 18. July 1814.
  6. The Early History of Tasmania, R.W.Giblin 1928