National Heritage List inscription date 25 October 2011
The shipwreck remains of the Flag Ship HMS Sirius represent a tangible link to the most significant vessel associated with the settlement of colonial Australia. They are the only known remains of a vessel from the First Fleet.
Click an image for a larger view
About the HMS Sirius
The arrival of the First Fleet to Australia
The HMS Sirius and Commander Arthur Philip guided the First Fleet through its arduous 15,000 mile, six month journey from England to Australia. The arrival of the Sirius and the First Fleet at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788 is one of the most important moments in Australia's history and is celebrated each year as Australia Day.
Sirius’s Commander Arthur Philip went on to become Australia’s first colonial Governor.
Following its journey the Sirius became the main form of defence for the colony and the primary supply line and communication link with Great Britain. By February 1790 the shortage of supplies at Port Jackson was critical and the settlement was in danger of collapse and abandonment.
In addition to the exploration west of the colony for more fertile farmland, to avert disaster Governor Philip dispatched the Sirius and the HMS Supply to Norfolk Island with convicts and Royal Marines in the hope that conditions on the island would be more conducive to self sufficiency and relieve pressure on the remaining government supplies. The Sirius was then to proceed to China to purchase desperately needed supplies for the colony.
The loss of the Sirius
The HMS Sirius sunk off the south east of Kingston Pier in Slaughter Bay, Norfolk Island while seeking a more secure anchorage point during a storm.
The loss of the Sirius was a disaster to the fledging colony as it happened during a period of crisis. In spite of the loss of the Sirius the decision by Governor Phillip to move soldiers and convicts to Norfolk Island proved correct and ensured the colony's survival until further supplies arrived from England and the agricultural endeavours further inland became successful.
The careers of the first three governors of the colony of New South Wales are closely associated with the Sirius. Governors Phillip (1788-1792), Hunter (1795-1800) and King (1800-1806) all sailed as senior officers on the Sirius.
The shipwreck site and remains of the Sirius are of outstanding heritage value to the nation as the one remaining known link to the First Fleet and the beginnings of Australian colonial history.