The South Australian Maritime Museum preserves the oldest nautical collection in Australia. In 1872 the Port Adelaide Institute began a museum collection to complement its library and its educational and social programs. That collection grew over the following century reflecting the seafarers and the ships that visited Port Adelaide. It is now held in trust at the South Australian Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum’s collections ranges from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse that was first lit in 1869 to a plaque that explorer Matthew Flinders left at Memory Cove in 1802 to mark the loss of eight seafarers. It includes figureheads, nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artefacts, paintings, models and vessels.

Our scope is the maritime heritage of South Australia from the coast to inland waters. The collection of over almost 20,000 objects and over 20,000 images is at once a window to the heritage of the local community and to the ships of the world.

HM Sloop Investigator anchor

Best bower anchor from HM Sloop Investigator in which English navigator Matthew Flinders circumnavigated and charted the Australian coastline from 1801 to 1803.

Flinders severed the anchor when he had difficulties leaving Middle Island at the western end of the Great Australian Bight in May 1803. It was raised from the seabed 170 years later in 1973. The anchor underwent twelve months of conservation and restoration.

Weight: 1230 kg.

Creator: Henry Rudd, Monkwearmouthshore, Co.

Associated locations: South Australia, Great Australian Bight, Middle Island 


Caption: Anchor from HMS INVESTIGATOR

AccessionNo: HT 2003.0653

Width: 2670 mm

Height: 4530 mm

Material: iron

Date Created: 1795

Physical Description:
The best bower anchor from His Majesty's Sloop Investigator on which British navigator Matthew Flinders charted and circumnavigated 'Australia', as he named it, between 1801 - 1803.

The anchor belongs to the ship whose navigator, Matthew Flinders, charted the southern coastilne and completed the map of Australia. Under his orders, it was cut loose to safeguard the ship and its crew. The anchor's story reflects the hazards of the voyage and Flinders' seamanship and care for his voyagers. It is a rare relic of a ship and expedition that was key in both the charting of Australia and the mapping of the southern coastline.

On 17 May 1803 HMS INVESTIGATOR anchored off Middle Island at the western end of the Great Australian Bight. The crew were dying from dysentary and fever and the ship was in urgent need of repair and supplies. Flinders' crew landed to kill native geese, boil down seal fat, and collect salt and firewood. Preparing to leave, the anchors dragged and a fresh wind threatened to blow the ship ashore. Flinders gave orders to cut the anchor cables and sail out to sea, abandoning two anchors. While the ship's position and the incident are recorded in A VOYAGE TO TERRA AUSTRALIS the anchor lay undisturbed for 170 years.The anchors were eventually raised by an expedition of the Underwater Explorers Club of South Australia led by Doug Seton on 19 January 1973. Conservation work was carried out at the Museum of Western Australia, Maritime Division, Freemantle.. This comprised one year of electrolytic reduction, cleaning and coating. After a four-way ownership tussle between South Australia, Western Australia, the Commonwealth Government and Britain, one anchor was given to South Australia, and the other to the National Museum of Australia. From 1974 - 1981 the anchor was displayed in the Historical Museum at the Art Gallery of South Australia beside other South Australian relics. It was shifted to the South Australian Museum before being transferred to the History Trust of South Australia in 1990 .