A summary of the major events in the life of the original "Lady Nelson" and its present day Replica.

The original Lady Nelson


The original vessel was built on the River Thames at Deptford and launched on November 3rd 1798; built with 3 sliding keels to facilitate survey work in the colony of New South Wales.


On March 18 Lady Nelson sailed from Portsmouth, under the command of Lieutenant James Grant with a crew of twelve, arriving at St Jago, Cape Verde Islands on 13th April.

Leaving Cape Verde Islands on 27th. April, the Lady Nelson arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on July 8th. and departed on October 7th.

On December 3rd land-fall was made near Mount Gambier and the Lady Nelson arrived at Port Jackson on December l6th, completing her maiden voyage in ten months.


Exploration of King Island and the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. Lt. Murray spent several weeks exploring the possible channels into the wide expanse of Port Philip Bay before returning to Sydney on 24th March 1802


Accompanied the Investigator (Lt. Matthew Flinders) along the north east coast of Australia.


The Lady Nelson, accompanied by the whaler Albion, sailed to the River Derwent to establish the first European settlement in Tasmania.


The Lady Nelson involved in establishing settlements at Hobart Town and on the Tamar River.


Made a voyage to New Zealand to return exiled Maori Chief Te-Pahi to his homeland.


Sailed with 34 men, women and children from Norfolk Island to Hobart Town.

1808 Second voyage from Norfolk Island to Hobart Town, with 50 men, women and children.

Sailed to Norfolk Island with a detachment of the 73rd Regiment to relieve the 102nd Regiment.


Conveyed Governor Macquarie to Van Dieman's Land on his famous tour of inspection.


Employed in carrying coal from Newcastle and grain from the Hawkesbury River to Sydney Town.


Conveyed 33 convict men and 13 convict women from Sydney to Port Dalrymple.


In company with the Minstrel, brought twenty one men, six women and sixteen children from Norfolk Island to Port Dalrymple.


Driven on shore at Port Macquarie. Refloated and repaired on Governor Macquarie's orders.


Accompanied HMS Tamar to establish the first white settlement on Melville Island, Northern Australia. Lady Nelson sailed for Timor in December to seek livestock for the settlement.


Returned from Timor with 30 pigs. Sailed again on February 19th and was never heard from again. The hull, with name painted on the stern, was sighted on the island of Babar, 120 miles east of Timor. The ship had been plundered and burnt and the crew killed.

The Replica


The Tasmanian Sail Association Ltd. announced their wish to build a replica of the original vessel.


First cut made in the 50 ton log for the keel by the late Sir James Plimsoll, then Governor.


The Lady Nelson launched.


Commenced operations entirely by volunteers and made over $13,000 in three months.


Policy of payment introduced and ship sent to mainland to generate income; heavy losses incurred.

1991-5 Period of escalating debt with vessel spending most of each year out of Tasmanian waters.

Attempt to sell vessel to clear debt of $250,000 thwarted by Friends of the Lady Nelson Group.

June: Lady Nelson returns to Tasmania and resumes Sail Training and educational cruises as a totally voluntary operation.


Re-enacted the first sighting of the Australian Coast on 3rd December 1800.


Debt of $250,000 repaid by the voluntary efforts of Association Members.


Re-enacted the discovery of Phillip Island & Western Port, Victoria in March 1801.