Scale model of HM cutter MERMAID

Richard Keyes2009

Australian National Maritime Museum

Australian National Maritime Museum
Sydney, Australia

HMCS MERMAID was an 84 ton cutter that undertook several important survey voyages between 1817 and 1820. It had associations with many significant figures in the early colony of NSW.

Lieutenant Phillip Parker King made four voyages to unsurveyed areas of the south and northwestern coastlines between December 1817 and April 1822. The first three were in HMCS MERMAID, purchased by Governor Macquarie in 1817. Among the crew of the first voyage were the botanist Allan Cunningham and Bungaree, an Aboriginal man from the Broken Bay area who had previously travelled with Matthew Flinders.

The ship was badly damaged on the third expedition but re-fitted and used as a transport ship until it foundered in the Great Barrier Reef in 1829.

The wreck was rediscovered by a team of maritime archaeologists led by the Australian National Maritime Museum in early 2009. The model constructed by Richard Keyes was given to the museum at this time.


  • Title: Scale model of HM cutter MERMAID
  • Creator: Richard Keyes
  • Date: 2009
  • Type: Ship model
  • Significance: The cutter HMCS MERMAID is a significant part of early colonial Australian maritime history. It undertook several important survey voyages between 1817 and 1820 and was associated with many prominent figures from early colonial NSW, including surveyor Lieutenant Phillip Parker King, botanist Allan Cunningham and well-known Sydney Koori, Bungaree. It is also the subject of a Conrad Martens painting. The wreck of the MERMAID was discovered by an ANMM led team in early 2009.
  • See institution's online collections: http://collections.anmm.gov.au/en/objects/details/163203/scale-model-of-hm-cutter-mermaid
  • Medium: Wood, twine
  • Dimensions: 614 x 662 x 251 mm, 828.61 g
  • Credit line: ANMM Collection Gift from Richard Keyes

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