In 1847 after two years of crafting, John Nicholson a shipbuilder of the Manning River, completed the 270 ton barque Fanny Fisher which had been commissioned by (William) Henry Fisher.1 The ship was named after Henry’s daughter. Coincidentally, in another Manning River shipyard, a barque of similar proportions, Rosetta Joseph, was being built at the same time by shipbuilder Alexander Newton for Moses Joseph.2 Moses’s ship was named after his wife.3
With both ships ready to sail to Sydney for coppering and cabin fitouts, the captains of the two ships indulged in a race.4 Leaving on Wednesday afternoon at four o’clock, the ships made it to Sydney Heads at four o’clock the following morning having covered 125 miles in 12 hours.5 Unfortunately, Rosetta Joseph missed the entrance to Sydney and travelled further south losing valuable time. Fanny Fisher arrived in Sydney on Thursday afternoon while Rosetta Joseph arrived much later on Friday.6 A verse [see below] reportedly written at the time of the race captures the spirit of the rivalry.
Both ships were a testament to the fine craftsmanship of the Manning Valley shipbuilders. The Rosetta Joseph made several successful trading journeys but her life was short-lived after she wrecked on a reef while returning to Sydney from San Francisco in 1850.7 Fanny Fisher on the other hand had a 60 year career before being broken up in Sydney in 1907. 8
Author: Gloria Toohey, Manning Wallamba Family History Society
They raced on with courage strong,
With the cry of ‘Southward Ho’,
For, ‘twas a race of honour and glory,
In the days of long ago.
With every stitch of canvas
Bellowing in the gentle breeze,
Rosetta and Fanny Fisher
Raced o’er the foam-capped seas.
Captain Patrick and Captain Harrold,
Seafarers of renown,
Sailed their barques with resolution,
For beckoning was Sydney town.
Rosetta, with square sails bulging,
Raced onwards, wide of the mark,
But shrewd old Captain Harrold,
Won the race in Will Fisher’s barque.
William Fisher’s dream ship triumphed,
With honour and glory galore,
And the name Fanny Fisher,
Was renowned on every shore.11
Verse author unknown
1 Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September 1847.
2 Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List, 11 September 1847.
3 Great Lakes Manning River Shipping NSW Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/glmrsnsw/21378440003.
4 Sydney Chronicle, 11 Sep 1847.
5 Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 15 September 1847.
6 Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List, 11 September 1847.
7 Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List, 21 December 1850.
9 “Douglas Vale” Winery Port Macquarie, Photo G Toohey, 2017.
10 StateLibQld 1 102132 Fanny Fisher (ship).jpg, A G Davies Collection, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StateLibQld_1_102132_Fanny_Fisher_(ship).jpg