- Wilson, Graham, Warrant Officer Class Two, Australian Intelligence Corps
- Colonial navies, History - pre-Federation
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Gayundah
- June 1996 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
It was to be many years before Gayundah flew the White Ensign again. She continued to serve the Queensland Marine Defence Force, through good years and bad, until Federation, at which point she became a unit of the Commonwealth Naval Forces and then the RAN and once again hoisted the White Ensign. During World War I, she served as a guard ship and as a mine sweeper, following which she was employed as a tender until she was sold out of the naval service in 1922. She saw long and faithful, though unspectacular, service as a sand and gravel barge on the Brisbane River until she met her end on 2 June 1958 when she was scuttled as a breakwater at Woody Point in Moreton Bay. A sad end for the one time flagship and pride of the Queensland Marine Defence Force.
The foregoing has been an account of two fairly amusing events connected with the early naval development of Australia. Both events were faintly ludicrous at the time while at this remove of history they appear downright bizarre. The thought of armed police deploying to support action by their Commissioner to remove the captain of the colony’s flagship and commandant of its navy from his ship and office is quite amazing as is the thought of the ship’s captain calmly discussing the possibility of firing on Parliament House with his gunner. The case of the unfortunate Lieutenant Hesketh is just as extraordinary and one cannot help but feel a fair amount of sympathy for the man. How he must have had the last laugh when Commander Wright’s financial peccadillos came to light!
But ludicrous, ridiculous, amusing or bizarre, the events actually happened and are part of the rich tapestry of Australian naval history. Gayundah never fired her guns in anger and the fact that the highlights of her career were connected with the financial misdeeds of two of her officers must have been the cause of some embarrassment for all connected with her. Nevertheless, she was by all accounts a good ship and she served Queensland and Australia well for many years. Her memory deserves to live on and this article has been a small attempt to ensure that it does.
I first heard the story of Gayundah and Commander Wright’s threat to fire on Parliament House as a small boy from my father, then a recently commissioned (from the ranks) Sub-Lieutenant Supply Officer, as we were driving through Brisbane one night after visiting relatives on one of our interminable trips around Australia. The story stuck in my mind and I had always hoped to write something on it. Here it is.
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- Urban, Frank, 1995, Ned’s Navy – The Private Letters of Edward Charlton from Cadet to Admiral, Wild and Woolley Pty Ltd, Sydney.