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Navy in South Australia: Other government vessels continued



Blanche was a wooden cutter about 12 tons, built in 1853 in the government boatyard at Port Adelaide. Little detail is known but she was generally described as a tender, and undertook some survey work. Blanche was wrecked at Wallaroo, 26 July 1865.


Swallow was a wooden single masted cutter, built 1860. Purchased in May by the South Australian government  for servicing lights and buoys. It was sold out of government service in 1885.


Flinders built in Brisbane 1863, and purchased on behalf of the Marine Board of South Australia in 1865 Flinders was fitted with special lifting gear for work on various moorings. The purchase of Flinders was controversial, in part due to her costs at a time of political upheaval. However the following government continued to use the vessel. She sank at her moorings at Port MacDonnell 29 June 1873, as a result of poor maintenance when a plank came loose.

Governor Musgrave

Governor Musgrave.  As a result of the difficulties with Flinders, the government decided on an iron hulled steamship as a replacement. The Governor Musgrave was built at Mort's Dock and Engineering Company, Sydney in 1874 for 11,750 pounds, with an inverted direct acting steam engine, 60 nhp cylinders 36 inch diameter and 20 inch stroke. The ship was re-boilered and the engine compounded in Adelaide in 1884. She was intended to service the lighthouses and other navigational aids on the South Australian coast.

Following the refit in 1884 the Governor Musgrave attained speeds of 9½ to 10 knots and consumed about 7½ tons of coal per day. Shortly after, the crew was paid off and the decision was made to man her when necessary, from the crew of HMCS Protector.

Following Federation in 1901 Governor Musgrave was again manned by her own crew and reverted to lighthouse duties. During World War I Governor Musgrave was used as an examination vessel at Port Adelaide, under the control of the Royal Australian Navy.

When the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service was established in 1915 it acquired the Governor Musgrave for 5,800 pounds, and she was transferred to Fremantle, Western Australia. Here she serviced Western Australian lighthouses and navigational aids until October 1923. At this time she was sent to Sydney for a refit, was found to be in poor condition in part due to her age and was sold, ending her days as a hulk.


Palmerston, iron single screw steamship built 1878 in Glasgow. Acquired by the South Australian government in 1884 for service in the Northern Territory, and named Palmerston (after the chief town, now Darwin). She served there until February 1886. The mid 1880s was a period of government stringencies, and in February 1886 the ship was taken to Sydney for sale. This failing Palmerston was brought back to Port Adelaide and finally sold to Messrs Darling for their Port Adelaide/Port Lincoln run.

Further reading:

Ewens, Leonard John. The little ships of the pioneer years, 1836-1845. Part I Adelaide: Pioneers' Association of South Australia, 1952

Ewens, Leonard John. The little ships of the pioneer years, 1836-1845. Part II Adelaide: Pioneers' Association of South Australia, 1953

 Parsons, Ronald, The Navy in South Australia Lobethal, S.A.: R.H. Parsons, 1974

Beatrice or Flinders
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Colonial schooner Yatala
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Governor Musgrave at Port Adelaide
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Unloading a horse from a ship
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