There remain only four operational 19th Century barques in the world. And only one aboard which any fare-paying member of the public can be a passenger. She’s called the James Craig and she berths in Sydney Harbour!
There remain only four operational 19th Century barques (three-masted sailing ships) in the world. And only one aboard which any fare-paying member of the public can be a passenger of a weekend. She’s called the James Craig, she berths in Sydney Harbour and – as the good people at the Sydney Heritage Fleet put it so beautifully – she’s a tangible link between modern Australia and the days of sail during which this country developed into nationhood.
Built in 1874, fans of big-sword epic The Highlander will be thrilled to learn that the James Craig was originally called the Clan Macleod. Far more than a mere replica, she’s a complete restoration of a hard-working vessel that has rounded Cape Horn 23 times. In 2003 she was given the World Ship Trust’s Maritime Heritage Award for such an exemplary restoration.
Outings are $195 for a six-hour cruise (less in winter and concessions apply), taking in Sydney Harbour and venturing out to sea with a full complement of up to 50 crew and 80 passengers. As a paying customer, you can help with the deck work, haul on lines to trim the sails, join in sea shanties – or simply sit on your backside and do nothing. Morning, afternoon tea and lunch are provided, and whale sightings are common at the right time of year.
Where // The James Craig berths at Wharf 7, Pyrmont, Sydney. 02 9298 3888, www.shf.org.au
Did you know? // There is another, more famous example of a barque vessel important to Australia’s history, though at the time her designation was spelled a little differently: Captain Cook sighted the east coast of Australia in the HM “Bark” Endeavour in 1770.
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