Sydney, NSW.



H.M.A.S. Gayundah is being transformed, says the Sydney Morning Herald. Some days ago she went into Cockatoo docks with the same little low ?? ?? ?? which Australians have known for nearly thirty years. She was a ??? of the famous? flat iron type of gunboat. Where her bow ought to have been there was a triangle of deck ?? ?? ?? a single enormous 8 in. gun ?? ?? from the middle of her fore-head as it were. The blacks on the Queensland coast called her the “broken nose man o’ war.” When the Gayundah comes out of Cockatoo her broken nose will have been mended for ever. The authorities have decided to build her up a respectable forecastle. It will hold another twenty men or so. And the Gayundah, which has already put in thirty years, will probably serve another highly useful thirty. The Gayundah has in her the same engine which brought her out from England in 1884. She steamed a bare ten knots on her trials then, and she steams well over ten knots today. She is used for training the naval reserves along the coast, and she is at work year in year out. She steams 14,000 miles a year and her particular virtue is that she steams it very cheaply. Australians only imperfectly realise what an important ship the Gayundah is.

It is all wrong about the [H.M.A.S] Australia. The Australia was not the first flagship. That honour is claimed by the Gayundah. Shortly after the Commonwealth was inaugurated the Commonwealth of the day ?? ?? in line ahead from the Brisbane River. The Gayundah was leading, the Paluma kept station on her, the picket boat Midge brought up the rear. On the occasion of that historic cruise the Gayundah bore the senior officer’s flag. She has not forgotten it.

The Gayundah is the only ship that has ever turned her guns on to the Queensland police. This historic scene occurred in the Brisbane River about the end of the Eighties. The Queensland Government at the time ran it’s own fleet, consisting of the Gayundah. When the Government had money the Gayundah used to put in a thoroughly strenuous time of it training naval brigades on the coast. When money ran short the Gayundah had to go temporarily to sleep. It was a question of accounts that began it. Where the right or the wrong was does not matter now, and perhaps will never be clear, But the Auditor-General, after going  through the Gayundah’s accounts, wanted to know how it was her crew ate thirteen cases of gunpowder and a ton and a half of nails. And the Government, acting on the time honoured principle that a ship’s captain is responsible for everything that he has never done, called on the captain to resign. The captain of the Gayundah was an enthusiastic, somewhat hot headed ex-naval officer. He was in the service of the Queensland Government, but he strongly objected to this particular treatment, and determined to defy the Government. The captain was ashore, and the Gayundah and her crew, moored off the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane, were quite unconscious of any momentous happenings until a sudden order came to victual and coal ship. Provisions began to come aboard from various quarters. A coal punt? came alongside and for three or four hours the crew worked their souls? out over some unexplained excitement. In the middle of it the captain came aboard. A few forceful phrases from a conversation with his navigating officer in the cabin, threw some light upon the situation. It seemed that “the old man” intended to take the Gayundah to Sydney to report to the Admiral there. They would probably put to see that afternoon. At this juncture bodies of men in dark uniform were made out approaching through the Botanic Gardens. They were policemen. Squad after squad came down to the bank opposite the Gayundah. The Government must have collected every policeman in Brisbane. The Gayundah’s crew judged there were at least a hundred of them. Every policeman had a rifle. It was intimated to the “old man” that the police were there to arrest his ship. The scene which followed the intimation has not yet been forgotten. It ended with the captain ordering the bugler to sound “general quarters for action”. Now, when Gayundah prepared for action the process did not take long, but it could be heard a mile away. There was a wild rattling of chains, a banging of iron doors, a clattering of falling stanchions, a whipping out of forestays to clear the way for the 8-inch gun. The guns slowly bobbed and ducked, and the crew looked along the line of the gun barrels at the place where the policemen had been. The police had not found it necessary to wait for the actual aiming process. Many of them had been naval men, and they were familiar with the call of “general quarters for action.” They had retired behind convenient trees.

A delegacy from the high authorities, however, was allowed to hoard. lt informed the captain that his ship was arrested. The captain replied he was going to Sydney. He was informed that Lytton Fort had been instructed to stop him putting to sea. He retorted that he could blow Lytton Fort skywards or possibly in another direction. And that was as high as the crisis got. Better counsels prevailed. The captain resigned in the end, and the Gayundah never fought her naval action.

Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954)  Thu 26 Mar 1914   Page 5