Rose Hill Packet

Rose Hill Packet

Type :
Wooden hoy
Launched  :
Builder :
Robinson Reed
Sydney Cove, NSW
Gross weight :
12 tons
Dimensions :
Passenger capacity :
Speed :

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 rowboats.

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.