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Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour had the largest shipping dock of its kind in the world when this film was made there in 1916. It shows the building HMAS Brisbane, and its launch on 30 September 1915. Margaret Fisher, wife of then-Prime Minister Andrew Fisher breaks a bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow before it slides down the slipway into the harbour.

Year:1916

Location:Sydney, Australia

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Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour had the largest shipping dock of its kind in the world when this film was made there in 1916. It shows the building HMAS Brisbane, and its launch on 30 September 1915. Margaret Fisher, wife of then-Prime Minister Andrew Fisher breaks a bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow before it slides down the slipway into the harbour.


Year: 1916

Length: 01:39

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: NFSA title: 45981


Location: Sydney, Australia

Tags: Australia, RAN, Royal Australian Navy, ship launch, dockyards


Cockatoo Island, the largest island in Sydney Harbour, was the site of the first dry dock in Australia. It was built by convicts, and operated as a major shipyard between 1857 and 1991. The Commonwealth purchased the shipyard in 1913 as a dockyard for the newly formed Royal Australian Navy (RAN). During the First World War a number of naval ships were built at Cockatoo Island including the HMAS Brisbane. She and her sister ships HMAS Melbourne and Sydney were the first cruisers built for the RAN. The Brisbane departed for war service in the Mediterranean in December 1916. She arrived at Malta in February 1917 and was transferred to the Indian Ocean to assist in the hunt for German commerce raiders. The transfer of a Sopwith Baby seaplane from a seaplane carrier to Brisbane early in 1917 was the RAN's first involvement in naval aviation.

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Cockatoo Island

  • Sydney, Australia

  • 0:00

    Workers busy in shipyard

  • 0:19

    Ceremonial smashing of champagne onto the ship being launched

  • 0:36

    Crowds watch as the ship moves down slipway and into the harbour

  • 1:16

    View of the deck of another ship while in dock

  • 1:31

    View of ship