A little piece of history

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This week at Macquarie Island: 2 March 2012

The Anchor at Macquarie Island Station

At Macquarie Island station, one cannot miss the old anchor mounted on a rock stack in the middle of the station. The history of this anchor is unknown, however its design indicates a late 18th century manufacturing date. The anchor with its large iron ring and straight arms, pointed crown and very long shank (3.48 meters) is identical to the First Fleet (1788) anchor from the HMS Sirius  held in the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour, and the anchor recovered from the Sydney Cove, wrecked on Preservation Island, Bass Strait in 1797.

By the 1820s most pointed crown anchors, like the Macquarie Island one, were becoming obsolete in favour of the curved arm anchor design, which lessened the arms angle in relation to the shank and greatly improved the anchors holding power. The Macquarie Island anchor when it was on the ship would have been referred to by the sailors as the “best bower” or “bower” due to it being carried in the bow of the ship.

How this anchor came to remain at Macquarie Island has been lost in the mist of time, yet it was common for ships to lose their anchors, or having to slip the anchor cable and claw off the shore in adverse conditions. However, it is most likely from an unrecorded very early shipwreck, as it would need to have been basically on the beach or shore to have been recovered in later years. The anchor was found by the sealers working on the island and seems to have always been somewhere on the Isthmus of the island. It was moved to the station site in the 1950s by ANARE expeditioners, where it remains today.

Information provided by Jonothan Davies, AAD Library

The historic anchor
The historic anchor
(Photo: Trish Macdonald)
Anchor in the sunset
Anchor in the sunset
(Photo: Eve Merfield)
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