Amity (brig)

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Amity replica at Albany, Western Australia
BuilderSt John's, New Brunswick
FateWrecked near Vansittart Island on 18 June 1845
General characteristics
Tonnage148 tons burthen
Length75 feet 6 inches
Beam21 feet 5 inches

Amity was a 148-ton brig used in several notable voyages of exploration and settlement in Australia in the early nineteenth century.

She was built in New Brunswick in 1816 and for some years was used as a merchant vessel trading between America and Britain before being brought to Australia in 1824.

Van Diemen's Land[edit]

Amity was built as a brig of 148 tons and was launched at Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1816.[1] In 1823 she was purchased by the Scottish Ralston Family to be fitted out for their emigration to Van Diemen's Land.[2] Under the command of Captain McMeckan she departed from Stranraer in southern Scotland on 15 November 1823, travelling via Dublin, across the Atlantic Ocean to Rio de Janeiro and arriving in Hobart exactly five months later on 15 April 1824. Twenty-one passengers made the journey, including Robert Ralston, his wife Elizabeth, two sons and six daughters, as well as cargo and livestock including two bulls and four cows from Scotland.

Ralston later sold the brig to the Government of New South Wales in Sydney where she was used for exploration and supply voyages.[3]

Moreton Bay[edit]

The brig carried the first European settlers to Queensland after Redcliffe had been recommended as a suitable location for a penal colony by John Oxley in 1823. Lieutenant Henry Miller led a group of about 70 people including soldiers of the 40th Foot Regiment, 29 convicts, explorers and their families to Moreton Bay on 14 September 1824.[4]

The township of Amity and locality of Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane, Queensland, are named after the ship.[5] The locality includes a Brig Street. There are six streets in Brisbane named Amity and another two on the Sunshine Coast.[6] Amity Park is on the northern outskirts of Brisbane and there is an Amity Recreation Reserve and Amity Point Reserve in the area. In September 1991 a memorial was unveiled at Redcliffe that features four bronze plaques, one of which depicts the vessel itself.[7]

King George Sound[edit]

Under instructions from Governor Darling the brig sailed to Western Australia in 1826 under the command of Major Edmund Lockyer, who established the first European settlement there with a military garrison at King George Sound, now Albany.[8] The settlement was initially called Frederick Town.[9][10][11] The expedition included Major Lockyer, two military officers, 18 rank and file soldiers, 23 convicts and surgeon Isaac Scott Nind, as well as livestock and supplies for an expected stay of six months.[12]

The group disembarked on Boxing Day, 1826.[13]

Swan River Colony[edit]

On 22 September 1829 Amity arrived at Fremantle from Singapore with passengers and crew totalling 15 people.[14] She was the eighth shipping arrival in the fledgling Swan River Colony.


By 1844 the vessel was involved in the transport of cattle from Port Albert in Victoria across Bass Strait to Hobart in Tasmania.[15] Amity was wrecked after running aground on an uncharted sandbar now called Vansittart Shoals[2] (40°16′S 148°25′E / 40.267°S 148.417°E / -40.267; 148.417) near Vansittart Island, north of Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) on 18 June 1845.[3]

Captain William Marr was sailing Amity from Hobart for Port Albert in ballast on 14 June 1845, with a crew of nine, and one passenger. They encountered a gale while entering Bass Strait and ran aground on a sand bank twelve miles (19 km) off Shoaly Bay on the south-east coast of Flinders Island, presumably the Vansittart Shoals, 18 June 1845. As the ship broke up, she was abandoned, all making the island safely but in so doing, both boats were damaged. The castaways came across a party of sealers who loaned them another boat, and all except Captain Marr, who was later picked up by the schooner Letitia, headed for Cape Portland, Tasmania.


Brig Amity replica from The Residency

Discussions in Albany to construct a replica of Amity commenced in Albany in 1972 with the view to completion for the town's 1976 sesquicentennial celebrations. After funding and research had been established, construction commenced in 1975, with local boat builder Stan Austin as project supervisor and Pieter van de Brugge as leading shipwright.

The full-sized, land-mounted replica is now part of the Museum of the Great Southern, part of the Stirling Historical Precinct on Princess Royal Drive, Albany, overlooking Princess Royal Harbour. It has been positioned to give an impression of it floating in the harbour. Audio tours are available daily.


  1. ^ Ronald Parsons, Ships of Australia and New Zealand before 1850, Part One, A - J, (1983) Magill, South Australia, p.12. ISBN 0-909418-27-6
  2. ^ a b "The Ralston Family and the Brig Amity". Launceston Historical Society. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Amity". SchoonerMan. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  4. ^ "Redcliffe Historical Society". Archived from the original on 24 December 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  5. ^ Horton, Helen (1983). Islands of Moreton Bay. Spring Hill, Queensland: Boolarong Publications. p. 29. ISBN 0-908175-67-1.
  6. ^ Pearn, John & Tagney, Danny, "The Amity and the foundation of European settlement in Queensland," Queensland History Journal, 23 (6) August 2017, p.419
  7. ^ Pearn & Tangney, p.419
  8. ^ "The Amity". Albany Historical Society Inc. Archived from the original on 18 July 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  9. ^ Nind, Isaac Scott (7 February 1828). "View of Frederick Town, King Georges Sound, at the expiration of the first year of its settlement" (pdf). Manuscripts, Oral History and Pictures. State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  10. ^ Nind, Isaac Scott (1832). "Description of the Natives of King George's Sound (Swan River Colony) and Adjoining Country". The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. 1: 21–51. doi:10.2307/1797657. JSTOR 1797657. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  11. ^ Wilson, Thomas Braidwood (1835). "Formation of the Settlement at King George's Sound". Narrative of a Voyage Round the World. London: Sherwood Gilbert & Piper. p. 281. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  12. ^ "Amity - list of settlers who arrived with Lockyer to King George Sound in 1826". The Sunday Times. 7 December 1986. p. 74.
  13. ^ Battye, James Sykes (1924). Western Australia: A History from Its Discovery to the Inauguration of the Commonwealth. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 61.
  14. ^ "Amity". Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
  15. ^ "Wayne Caldow, "The early livestock trade between Gippsland and Van Diemen's Land; insights from Patrick Coady Buckley's journal of 1844," The La Trobe Journal, No.86, December 2010, p.24". Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Johnson, Les (1977). She was the "Amity" Brig. Carroll's Ltd, Perth. For the Town of Albany. ISBN 978-0-909994-72-3.
  • Welsby, Thomas (1922), Memoirs of the Amity, Brisbane.

External links[edit]