The Grain Trade: windjammers and Cape Horners




The collection includes personal papers and memorabilia, diaries, sailors' crafts, ship portraits, and ship models covering one hundred years from 1850 to 1950. The collection also includes original photographs documenting life on board Pamir and Passat in 1949 and memorabilia from the now defunct South Australian Cape Horner's associations including Cape Horners' uniforms, penants, badges, publications, and film footage and voyage souvenirs.

This collection includes a diversity of objects and images linked to the last windjammers and those who crewed them. In the early twentieth century, only a few trade routes remained viable for the world's big sailing vessels. The Australian grain trade was one and it was on this route that Finnish ship-owner Gustaf Erikson made his name. He invested in second-hand barques or 'windjammers' and eventually became the owner of the world's last fleet of commercial sailing ships. The voyages from South Australian wheat ports on the Yorke Peninsula to Europe received much media coverage. In Britain, people bet on which ship would make the fastest voyage of the year, coining the expression 'Grain Races'. The windjammers Passat and Pamir left South Australia's Port Victoria on 28 May 1949 loaded with grain for Europe. They were the last commercial sailing ships to ply one of the world's longest trade routes. Original photographs of life on board these two ships during the last great grain race in 1949 form part of the museum's collection.

A South Australian Maritime Museum collection. Some material relating to the Great Grain race is on display in the Museum's Tapestry of Treasures gallery. Photographs are currently being digitised and will eventually be available online. Other material is in museum storage and accessible by appointment only.


Barque; Cape Horners; Erickson; Grain race; Pamir; Passat; Windjammers

Cereals; Commerce; Crews; Films; Model ships; Personal effects; Photographs; Sailing ships; Souvenirs

Commerce; Films; Grain; Model ships; Photography; Ships

Sailing ships

South Australian Maritime Museum

Coverage Spatial

Yorke Peninsula; Aland Islands; Finland; South Australia; Port Adelaide; Cape Horn

Coverage Temporal



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2012-12-12 16:42

2011-03-23 15:57