Books on steamships,  ferries,  tall ships,  TRAMS,  Sea-GOING HISTORY

On Board with Oxley. Discovering the Brisbane River in 1823 by Ian Ferrier

Colonial Australia is rife with tales of conflict between the original inhabitants and the colonisers. This is NOT one of those stories.



In the days when the penal colony of New South Wales encompassed virtually half the continent then called New Holland, an expedition led by explorer John Oxley sailed from Sydney Cove in the colonial cutter Mermaid. The purpose of the expedition was to explore new sites for remote penal settlements to satisfy the British policy of transportation of convicted criminals and political prisoners.



However, the expedition that took Oxley and his raw companions into subtropical coastal regions of what is now Queensland, did not go exactly to script. Coming across shipwrecked white men, whose lives had been sustained for months by the goodwill of the Aboriginal people of Moreton Bay, resulted in the discovery of an otherwise unknown river—on which the city of Brisbane was founded in 1824. 



On board with Oxley was an inquisitive Irishman. His recording of the extraordinary adventures of the white castaways when experiencing the diet and the customs of the local Aboriginal people, makes this an iconic Australian story.


The detailed and often amusingly written tale of Oxley's voyage in the little cutter Mermaid, north along the NSW coast to Moreton Bay.  Two hapless escaped convicts appear (they thought they were heading south from Sydney but storm and current took them miles northward). Their adventures and later virtual adoption by aborigines make absorbing reading.  The Brisbane River is discovered and mapped. John Oxley's report to the NSW Governor is appended, along with several useful appendices, a full index and bibliography. There are Notes on the text giving much background detail. The fate of the Mermaid is covered, describing its recent discovery by divers.

A very readable and topical companion to the story of The Heritage Fleet's pilot steamer John Oxley, by the same author.

soft cover 206 pp. approx 20 illustrations; charts, maps, paintings and photos.



On Board with John Oxley posted out ($6 shipping added at Checkout),

OR collect at 4 James Craig Road, Rozelle Workshops.

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In Whom We Trust by John Dikkenberg

In Whom We Trust deals with the intriguingly different roles of the ships’ captains in certain sea disasters.


Written by John Dikkenberg, a former naval captain and one of the masters of our sailing ship James Craig, the book brings a rare insight into the characters of the captains and what led these men to make the decisions that destroyed their ships. In many cases those examined fell into disaster having adopted the common attitudes of their day, some were incompetent while others were the victims of poor support from their companies or respective navies. In a few cases, they were let down by the material state of their ships or the technical inadequacies of their weapons.

Spread over fourteen chapters, the book covers a century of seafaring, beginning with Captain Edward Smith and the loss of Titanic and concluding with Captain Francesco Schettino and the loss of Costa Concordia.  John examines the captains commanding Graf Spee, Kormoran and Sydney, USS Pueblo, HMS Jervis Bay, SS Flying Enterprise, USS Indianapolis, MV Wilhelm Gustloff, SV Maria Asumpta, the submarine HMS Thetis, the Commodore of Destroyer Squadron 11, the Flag Officer commanding the Bismarck Squadron and the pilot directing MV Mikhail Lermontoff


The book follows  a century of maritime history and demonstrates the role of leadership, whether on the bridge at sea or directing operations ashore.


360 pp. paperback


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Tug Waratah a New Century of Steam by Mori Flapan

The stirring tale of the colourful history, acquisition, restoration and ongoing operation and maintenance of the 1902 steam tug Waratah. 

This is a new revised edition with many more photos and more historical data revealed by further research

Cutaway colour drawing, sectioned drawing of machinery.   Full specifications

Soft cover 40 pp. approx 50 photos some colour mostly historic B&W.  published 2020

A concise and comprehensive story of one of SHF's operating historic steamers.




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John Oxley Odyssey The Life and Times of a 1927 Steamer. by Ian Ferrier


This story could not have been more deeply researched. It covers some of the history of steam ships, of ship building on the Clyde and particularly of the ship's builders, Bow, McLachlan & Co. of Paisley on the south bank of the River Clyde, immediately opposite John Brown's shipyard at Clydebank. Then comes the history of Pilotage on the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay. There are extensive end notes, and references both print and internet. `

There is a full chapter on her ongoing restoration by Sydney Heritage Fleet.



"This is a must read for all maritime enthusiast and for those who are interested in an account of a steamship built in Scotland during a time of extraordinary vision and marine engineering".


Tim Drinkwater


Operations Manager Sydney Heritage Fleet


In the ODYSSEY by Homer the ten-year homeward voyage of the hero Odysseus was a mixture of strange encounters and struggle in dire situations.

Built in 1927 the steamer JOHN OXLEY has had a far longer voyage, longer than anyone could predict, as vessels of her generation are now few in number. While her history may not include tangling with sirens, beating off a six headed sea monster, or descending into The Underworld, the former Brisbane pilot steamer has had brushes with whales, destroyers and oil tankers in a storm-tossed Moreton Bay.

     On its becoming obsolete in 1970, steam enthusiasts brought the Clyde-built vessel to Sydney. After 22 years of restoration JOHN OXLEY is now on her homeward voyage — to be operational again and a tangible contribution to the maritime history of Australia. 


280 pp. paperback. over 200 illustrations, photos, drawings and paintings, some colour 




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The James Craig Story by Jeff Toghill

The impressive tale of the history then abandonment then recovery and the massive task of complete restoration to full seaworthiness. The full story one of SHF's finest possessions by one of the workers

Many drawings, facsimiles of old documents  Many "people" photos taken during restoration

Soft cover 90 pp. approx 100 photos mostly colour






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Pilot on Board by Brendan Moloney. The 175th anniversary history of the Port Phillip Sea Pilots

The first pilot, George Tobin, was licensed to ply his trade by Governor Gipps in Sydney in 1839 when Victoria was known as the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. There were no lighthouses at the Heads or along the coast to help ships on their way and the only navigation aids into the Yarra River were tea-tree stakes hammered into the by John Batman’s men.


In the early days, the pilot was put on a ship and taken off by a whaleboat launched from the beach at Queenscliff and rowed by convicts. The whaleboats, which had a limited range and did not put to sea in bad weather, were replaced by much bigger sailing cutters that provided a permanent cruising station outside the Heads from 1853.


The pilot’s job is to bring ships safely in and out of Port Phillip Bay and Western Port. In the Rip, the treacherous, narrow entrance to the bay, this requires exceptional seamanship, stamina and steady nerves. Modern pilot launches are a marvel of marine design that can handle the Rip in most of her moods but the pilot still boards and disembarks on a rope ladder at all hours and in all weather.


Wild seas were not the only danger the early pilots faced. Tobin had his ship, Childe Harold, taken by bushrangers. Captain Henry Draper survived being shot by a musket and stabbed with a cutlass when his ship, the Nelson, was boarded by 20 armed desperadoes who stole 8000 ounces of gold in Hobson’s Bay in 1852. Captain Montgomery Robinson was on the bridge of the German ship, Pfalz when the first shot of World War 1 was fired across her bows off Point Nepean in 1914.


A lot has changed in the past 175 years but some things remain the same. Batman’s ship Enterprise was the biggest man-made structure in Melbourne in 1835. Today, some of the oil tankers pilots guide into port, still, are bigger than the city’s tallest building.”



Published in 2018, 240 pages, hardcover.  Limited stock allocation



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Ships' Figure Heads in Australia by Gordon de L. Marshall

Free shipping

A fine art photo study of the wonderful array of carvings which adorned ships in Australian waters.

126 pp. Soft cover. Over 200 images, photos paintings and drawings. Explanatory text by the author, an expert in his field.


note :  the price includes postage in Australia


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Tall Ships by John L Coombes

A beautifully produced finely bound photo  essay describing and illustrating 16 superb sailing ships from Australia and NZ

Included are Alma Doepel, Bounty, James Craig, Young Endeavour.  This is no coffee table book, but a most informative and very readable work.  Extensive text giving builder, rig, restoration, location, voyages, owners etc.

see image for full contents.

125 pp. over 100 high resolution colour photos. Hard cover cloth bound.



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The Manly Lines by David Keenan

By a highly respected widely read tramway historian,

Deeply researched, the full history from steam to electric of the Manly tramways which sadly closed in 1939 essentially due to lack of patronage.  Some fascinating relics remain to this day of the isolated system, which this book will enable you to explore.

Covers the freight line, Harbord, Narrabeen, The Spit, the tram-only ferry across Middle Harbour to The Spit

72 pp. 70 + photos all B&W. Detailed text, maps diagrams

Soft cover





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The South Eastern Lines by David Keenan

By a highly respected widely read tramway historian,

Deeply researched, the full history from steam to electric of the tramways travelling generally along Elizabeth Street and Anzac Parade south and east to the beaches, Botany, La Perouse and served by the huge South Dowling Street depot, the last Sydney depot to close, in 1961. The event is celebrated every year in February at the Sydney Tramway Museum, Loftus, when some superbly restored trams as old as 1899 vintage are brought out and operated on 3 km of track.

120 pp. 70 + photos all B&W. Detailed text, maps diagrams, timetables.

Soft cover





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Bondi to the Opera House

A high quality historical overview of the very large Sydney Tramway system, one of the most extensive in the world and largest in the Southern Hemisphere.


By Dale Budd and Randall Wilson, two highly respected tramway historians.

 An absorbing read with many photographs which will bear repeated scrutiny in detail.

Individual studies of each line, the tram types, the workshops and preservation.


96 PAGES ALL COLOUR  (except B&W originals).




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The Tramways of Sydney by David R Keenan MCIT

A broad ranging summary of the history of the huge Sydney Tramway system, one of the most extensive in the world and largest in the Southern Hemisphere. By David Keenan a prolific and highly respected tramway historian.

 An absorbing read with many photographs which will bear repeated scrutiny in detail.

Individual studies of services on each line, the development of tram types, the picturesque destination rolls, carrying colour symbols, as well as names: reputedly because in the late 19th century not all intending travellers were literate!

 The cover shows Maroubra Junction with trams on the beach route and the La Perouse line. Rear cover is an evocative mosaic of scenes from the heyday, and the fate of many fine tramcars. At top left an O class car turns into Victoria Road Rozelle!


88 pp. over 60 photos all B&W  desto rolls in full colour

soft cover



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Waiting For the Ferry by Allen and Mathieson

The ferry services on Sydney Harbour tell a tale of entrepreneurs, master shipbuilders, the urban development of Sydney and even the tragedy of war. Above all else, however, the story of the ferries is the journey itself.’    - Boat Books Australia


A beautifully produced detailed study of the history of ferries on Sydney Harbour from the Parramatta River rowing boat ferry in 1789, up to the year 2017 and the latest large catamarans (Victor Chang class) and the Emerald class . There are over 500 photos depicting every fascinating aspect of ferry transport on Sydney Harbour.

Each ferry service is treated in detail according to destination. It is a book to give pleasure many times.


216 pp,  Approx. 500 photos, all colour except for historic B&W. soft cover



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Ships Worldwide by Robert Fildes 1st edition

For people who love ships.

over 160 colour photos of vessels in existence, merchant naval and sail. Sections on flags, company insignia, engines, 

text descriptions of each vessel and type, plus a chapter on preserved and restored ships including SHF

published Ships Worldwide P/L Australia 2007 

204 pp. bibliography, full index, A4 size hard cover on glossy paper.

A fine publication to dip into time and again.



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The Marine Paintings of Robert Carter




Robert Carter has been a member of SHF for many years now and assisted on Waratah's restoration back in the 1980s at the "Pens" mini dry dock in Pyrmont. Since then, Robert has devoted a huge amount of his time and energy into researching and painting the histories and technical detail of sailing ships, particularly from the early to mid 1900s.


Robert's output in this book is prodigious with over 200 quality artworks presented to the highest quality. These artworks depict many commercial sailing vessels from this fascinating period in our maritime history - This was when steamships had made vast inroads into ocean commerce, but there were still hundreds of sailing vessels still working, mostly with iron or steel hulls.


Robert's artworks are fascinating to view. His technical research has been extensive and those with authentic knowledge here will not be disappointed. Robert's paintings are primarily portraits of historic ships from the past, however, his paintings include sea, sky and weather, and it was fascinating to see Robert's portrayal of these important aspects of marine paintings.


Many of Robert's paintings also show wharf, port and harbour scenes and he has also deeply researched these locations and portrayed them as a study of port life at that time. Unlike a photographer, the artist has a license to collect a scene that portrays multiple aspects of a place, and Robert skillfully uses this to build his painting.


Each artwork is accompanied by a page of text that describes each ship and also gives technical and social accounts for each vessel, and also gives other information such as commercial aspects, cargo carried and the lives of crews.


These descriptions add to Robert's work here and establish this book as both greatly entertaining and informative. Indeed, this excellent publication is a worthy addition to our libraries.

 --- Andy Munns


There is a full index, glossary of terms, bibliography and Epilogue: the closing scenes of the tall ship era.

A fine volume to be referred to time and again.


 FREE with every book purchase: 2023 calendar featuring a maritime colour print each month.


All books ordered online will be numbered and signed, with an additional inscription available on request.


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Ships and the Sea. Ship paintings by Oswald Brett

 A book of  superb paintings of famous sailing ships, working sail from colonial times, warships and modern freighters  by Australian Oswald Brett. The author tells his own story: learning to paint in Sydney as a boy; war service at sea and global travels. Paintings of The Golden Hind, James Craig, Endeavour, the First Fleet, Queen Elizabeth, Cutty Sark, Bounty, Bismarck and many more.


There are paintings by other artists, John Alcott, Charles Pears, Anton Otto Fischer and Charles Robert Patterson.

Hard cover 192 pp. pub. 2014.     approx Square format  26 x 24 mm




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Windjammers, the Final Story by Robert Carter

Robert Carter collected data for this book for over 30 years.

An impressive collection including maritime paintings by the author.

It is an anthology of stories, anecdotes, poems, photographs and drawings depicting life, culture and activities in the last commercial sailing ships between the years 1906 and 1957 and is illustrated with 42  paintings.

Each work imparts a wonderful sense of motion in the sea and sails

The information  was recorded first-hand from the final generation of sailing ship mariners. As there are very few still living, this book will be the last to use the words of those who experienced life in these ships.

Format: Hardcover with a 128 gsm glossy art paper dust jacket.
 304, printed on 120 gsm wood-free paper
Colour: 51 colour plates and 35 photographs printed on 128 gsm glossy art paper.
Dimensions: 290 x 210 mm
Weight: 1.5 kg




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Paint me a Ship by Robert Carter

 A work to pore over at leisure noting the precise detail perfect artistry and the wonderful sense of motion in the sea and sails.

from the author:

Paint Me A Ship is a unique, luxurious, full-colour publication intended for readers interested in marine art and the history it captures.

In Part I there are 30 major new paintings completed since the publication of my first book, Windjammers – The Final Story, each with historical and artistic notes. I have also includes a chapter with insights and practical information for how to capture the sea, sky and weather conditions so that a painted ship truly looks like a ship, shared from a lifetime of painting.

In Part II I have gathered together outstanding examples of contemporary marine paintings, models and scrimshaw, created by members of the Australian Society of Marine Artists. The book celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Society and includes over 70 works I consider to be equal to the world’s best.

ISBN 9781925078916
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 200
Dimensions: 250 x 285 mm
Illustrations: 152 colour paintings, 11 colour photos, 3 b&w photos, 15 line drawings


FREE with every book purchase: 2023 calendar featuring a maritime colour print each month


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Wartime Windjammers - Sailing Ships During WWII by Robert Carter

Glorious maritime paintings by the author conveying a wonderful sense of the deep seas, subtleties of light and precise detail in the ships, with historic photos


from the author


Wartime Windjammers is a monograph exploring the important – yet little-known – role played by the last sailing ships during World War II.


Although already the author of two books and numerous articles on the subject of the last fifty years of the sailing ship era, it occurred to me that a significant narrative was waiting to be singled out and told …


As World War II was raging and hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping were being sunk, there were twenty-seven large sailing ships quietly contributing to the movement of precious cargo around the world, four of which became victims of enemy action.


Wartime Windjammers shines a light on this little-known aspect of the war, and brings together the story of the ships, their crews and their wartime voyages.


ISBN: 978-0-646-81004-1

Format: Soft cover

Pages: 34


Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches (229 x 152mm)


Illustrations: 10 colour paintings, 4 b&w photos


FREE with every book purchase: 2023 calendar featuring a maritime colour print each month



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All Hands on Deck by Michael York

The impressive story of the raising of a hulk back to the glory of James Craig as she is now.

 All Hands on Deck follows the history of a ship built in 1874 as Clan Macleod carrying cargo to and from seaports all over the world, before being renamed James Craig in 1905.

The ship was a rusting hulk, sunk and abandoned for 42 years. ...  Now completely restored down to every rivet and wooden plank, every sheave and strand of rope, she makes regular ocean voyages, sails billowing from all three masts.

An elegantly produced book, hard cover with dust jacket.

Published by Citrus Press 2006

164 pp. many full page colour  photos others B&W




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