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Sydney's first steam mill had opened as early as 1813, and in 1831 the first steamship arrived in Sydney. This was the 256-ton schooner-rigged paddle wheeler Sophia Jane, which, like all the early steamers, was an auxiliary steamer, using her paddle wheels only when winds were inadequate or contrary. In the same year the William the Fourth was built on a tributary of the Hunter near Newcastle, as Australia's first steamer. These auxiliary steamers were ideal for conditions on the coastal rivers of New South Wales, because they could exploit the wind at sea, but use their (rather inefficient) engines effectively in the close confines of the coastal rivers. Initially this meant the Hawkesbury and, more importantly, the Hunter and its tributaries; and in 1839 Australia's first lasting steamship line, the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, was established in Sydney. It had three sister ships, all imported iron auxiliary paddle steamers, rejoicing in the names of Rose, Shamrock and Thistle. As its name indicated, most of its trade was with Newcastle, but it also traded to the new and quickly thriving port of Melbourne.
No mention of Surprise!?!--A Y Arktos\talk 21:54, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
The Parramatta River saw many maritime “firsts”, including the running of the first vessel built in the colony - the Rose Hill Packet in 1789; the first steamer to run in Australia - Surprise of 1831; a horse-powered vessel named Experiment; and the first iron hulled vessel built in Australia - the kitbuilt Rapid of 1837.