Rose Hill Packet
Sydney Cove, NSW
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The Rose Hill Packet - commonly known as 'the Lump' - could arguably be
called Australia's first ferry.
She was launched on the 5th of October, 1789 in response to the need
for more water transport along the Parramatta River. At the time the
colony was relying on various ships' boats from the First Fleet vessels
to cater for it's water transport needs, these were, in general, simply
She is known to have covered the distance from Sydney Cove to Rose Hill
(Parramatta) in just two days - no small feat for the time.
No detailed description of her survives although two commentaries do.
The first, by Judge Advocate David Collins reads :
"From the quantity of wood used in her construction she appeared to be
a mere bed of timber and when launched, was named by the convict the
'Rose Hill Packet' and was generally known as 'the Lump'".
The second comment from William Bradley reads :
"Monday 5th of October, a vessel of 12 tons was launched which was the
first built in this colony; her construction was that of the lighter
and of an easy draught for the purpose of carrying stores and
provisions to Rose Hill".
For the next few decades after her arrival on the river, the needs of
the commuting public were met by a variety vessels that were filled by
whatever craft was available. The group of vessels came to be known as
waterman and passage boats. The crews were a rough assortment of men,
often requiring payment in spirits. The end was result was an early
transport system that was not held in high esteem by the paying public.
From these humble beginnings grew the largest ferry fleet in the world
that was to reach it's peak in 1932.