H.M.S. Clio. Commodore Stirling. AUSTRALIA STATION.
H.M.S. Clio. Commodore Stirling.
H.M.S. Clio. Commodore Stirling.

H.M.S. Clio. Commodore Stirling.

circa 1873.

Watercolour on card mounted on laid paper 132 x 177 mm (image size); with manuscript handlist "Cruizes of H.M.S. Clio. 18 Guns. Australian Station." completed in ink and watercolour, single leaf.

Flagship of the Australia Station

An interesting watercolour of H.M.S. Clio, flagship of the Australia Station from September 1870 until October, 1873.

An interesting watercolour of H.M.S. Clio, flagship of the Australia Station from September 1870 until October, 1873.

The Australia Station was the naval command instituted in 1859 for oversight of British colonial interests in the South Pacific. In 1848 Sydney had been upgraded to hosting an "Australian Division" of the East Indies Station (prior to that having been only a remote outpost of the East Indies Station controlled through Valparaiso). Just a decade later, the Australia Station was inaugurated, marking the changing shape of the Pacific and confirming the significance of Sydney as a rendezvous for naval vessels, "which it was claimed would allow a more efficient protection to be offered to the islands of the western Pacific" (Bach, 175).

Clio's commander, Commodore Frederick Stirling [1829-1885] was from a distinguished naval family. His father, Admiral Sir James Stirling [1791-1865], was the first Governor of Western Australia and as Commander in Chief of the China and East Indies Station had signed the first British treaty with Japan in 1854.

In 1871, the Clio was dry-docked in Sydney after striking rock in Bligh Sound, New Zealand. Commodore Stirling, during this time and under instruction from the Admiralty, completed a survey of naval stores in Sydney and stated "that the best decision would be to concentrate on Garden Island…[and] urged that £7500 be spent on upgrading the island's facilities, including a 10,000 square feet storehouse to cost £4500, to which all naval stores except powder should be transferred." (Bach, 200). In July 1873, Stirling was despatched in the Clio to dampen rising tensions in Fiji between the indigenous "Kai Colo" clans and the (short-lived) constitutional monarchy of Cakobau remaining there for a fortnight. Stirling went on to serve as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Station, achieving the rank of Vice-Admiral.

The manuscript handlist which accompanies the watercolour details these and other "Cruizes" of the Clio during her time as flagship: the first from "Western Hemisphere to Wellington & Sydney" in August and September, 1870; the last from Sydney to Wellington in October 1873. In 1873 the Clio sailed for Porstmouth, finally stationed in Wales as a school ship in 1877.

Bach, The Australia Station

Price (AUD): $650.00  other currencies Ref: #4505079