Published Resources Details Book Section
- The Navy of Victoria, Australia
- Warship 2000-2001
- Conway Maritime Press Ltd., London, 2000, pp. 73-82
In the year 1890 Melbourne stood as the seventh largest city of the British Empire, after London, Bombay, Calcutta, Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool. It was, however, as one English visitor put it, a fine place, but a long way from town. Although they might not have quite thought of it that way, the distance from town was what made the citizens of Melbourne nervous, and encouraged them to provide for their own naval defence. The following overview, therefore, follows the history of one of the least known British naval forces, the Victorian Navy.
During the nineteenth century the city of Melbourne grew as a phenomenon, due to the influence of the great Victorian gold rushes and the confidence which they engendered. Melbourne is located at the head of Port Phillip, a large landlocked water, some 750 square miles, with access to the sea via a narrow opening onto Bass Strait, a dangerous channel known as The Rip. It is 37 miles direct from there to Melbourne, though sandbanks near the heads require most shipping to take an indirect path. Forts were built to protect the seaward approaches to the city, but the nature of the environment meant that floating defences were an absolute necessity.
[Data is given for the:
Victoria, Pharos, Nelson, Cerberus, Miner, Albert (ex Melbourne), Victoria, Childers, Nepean, Lonsdale, Gordon, Picket, Mars and Countess of Hopetoun.]