Norfolk (sloop)

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The 25-ton sloop Norfolk, built in 1798, was the only ship built on Norfolk Island during its first period as a convict settlement. The tall Norfolk Pine trees had attracted interest by the Royal Navy in the 1770s and the island was originally settled in part to supply timber for masts and spars, so it is ironic that this small ship was the only one built there.

The vessel was sailed by its trusted convict builders to Port Jackson for fitting-out. Later in 1798 she was used by Matthew Flinders and George Bass in their circumnavigation of Van Diemen's Land, proving its island status and the existence of Bass Strait.

Whilst sailing on the Norfolk, on 17 July 1799 he arrived in Moreton Bay between Redcliffe and Brighton. He touched down at the Pumicestone Passage, Redcliffe and Coochiemudlo Island and also rowed ashore at Clontarf. During this visit he named Redcliffe after the Red Cliffs.

In October 1800 the Norfolk was captured on the Hawkesbury River by fifteen convicts who intended to sail the ship to the Molucccas. However, they wrecked the Norfolk when entering Port Hunter and ripped the bottom out of the ship. The convicts eventually made it to shore. Eleven stole another small boat but it was captured and two of the convicts were executed. The remaining four convicts lived with the aborigines but perished when they attempted to walk back to Sydney to give themselves up. [1]


  1. Australian Shipwrecks - vol1 1622-1850, Charles Bateson, AH and AW Reed, Sydney, 1972, ISBN 0 589 07112 2 p30