City of Adelaide Clipper Ship

Port Adelaide

The City of Adelaide Clipper Ship is the oldest composite clipper ship that can still be seen today. Composite refers to her construction, she's got an iron frame and a wooden hull. Prior to seeing the ship I had been vaguely aware of the story to return her to Adelaide, there was quite a bit of local media coverage of the efforts made to bring her back. It wasn't until I had visited the Cutty Sark that I realised how unique she was, there are only 3 clipper ships remaining. The Cutty Sark which has been beautifully restored, the Ambassador which is just a skeleton beached in Chile and The City of Adelaide.

The Cutty Sark

The City of Adelaide sitting on her barge at Dock 1 Port Adelaide.

She was launched in May 1864 which makes her older than the Cutty Sark, who was launched in 1869. A clipper ship was so named as it 'clipped' the ocean as it sailed, there's no keel and with 3 masts they carried a lot of sail and were fast ships.

The City of Adelaide carried passengers to South Australia and copper and wool back to Britain, she's historically important to South Australians as many can trace their ancestors to having travelled on her to Australia.

Like the Cutty Sark, The City of Adelaide was eventually replaced on the U.K. to Australia route by steamships. She made her final trip in 1887,  the City of Adelaide then became a timber and coal carrier, was a hospital ship for 30 years, then a training ship and finally the naval reserve used it as a floating clubhouse. She eventually sank and spent 14 months under water which accounts for the current state of her hull.

Efforts were made in Scotland where she was moored to preserve her, but floundered as the money dried up. An Adelaide group which became the Clipper Chip 'City of Adelaide' Ltd then worked to raise the necessary funds to transport her to Port Adelaide. It was the media reports of the efforts to bring the ship to Adelaide that first introduced me to the ship.

The Adelaide group's efforts were successful, she was placed on a heavy lift ship and was brought to Port Adelaide, arriving in February 2014 and was open to the public in May 2014. A group of volunteers work on restoring her and taking visitors through the ship, I went along a few weeks back and enjoyed the really informative tour.

There's scaffolding at the stern as the windows are being restored and the emblem for Adelaide is going to be placed on there.

The rudder, on one of her trips to South Australia, she lost her rudder and the captain had to bring her back to port using anchors to steer the ship. A new rudder was built in South Australia, the longest section is one piece of wood.

A picture of The City of Adelaide on the heavy lift ship being transported to Port Adelaide. The Palanpur must be absolutely enormous as The City of Adelaide looks like a toy ship! Before being transported, The City of Adelaide was placed on a cradle made of steel donated by Adelaide companies, she was then lifted on a barge and towed. When she was taken off the Palanpur, she was again placed on a barge and there she currently rests.

Inside the ship, the old hospital bed is there to commemorate her time spent as a hospital ship.

A porthole, they were tiny, I thought the portholes were the size of modern day ones. The square windows were cut into the ship during her time as a hospital ship, passengers who spent 3 months on board when sailing to and from Adelaide had a very small view of the world outside the ship!

Hammocks were the sleeping accomodation for the sailors. The City of Adelaide was built to carry passengers and she was state of the art when she was launched, even the second class passengers had a cabin.

The hooks for the hammocks can still be seen in the iron frame. During the day the hammocks were taken down and the area was used as children's play space.

I laughed when I saw this mouse/rat and the guide explained that there were a few scattered around for children to find. Family groups come to tour the ship and young children easily get bored listening to the tour guide so they're sent around to find all the mice!

This was a nice touch, the larger bible was found after the ship had sunk in Scotland. It was found floating in the water, was dried out and returned, the ship was then known as The Carrick. The smaller bible belonged to the family of captain who sailed on The City of Adelaide.

People have donated items of the era to create displays in the ship.

Portholes from where the First Class cabins were, I was told that funding had now been secured and the First Class salon was going to be rebuilt. I'd like to go back at the end of the year to see the restoration work, it'll be exciting to see what's been done.

The tour of The City of Adelaide was fascinating, the volunteer group who manage her do a great job in rather trying circumstances. The State government hasn't given them a permanent spot for the ship at Port Adelaide. The preferred location has now been earmarked for residential housing, so the ship is somewhat in limbo as to a permanent home. Her current location is quite an easy and pleasant stroll from the cafe and restaurant area of Port Adelaide, even though Dock 1 where she can be found, is something of a wasteland!