In 1851, when Victoria separated from New South Wales and the rich goldfields were discovered, Melbourne became an obvious, unguarded, attraction for seaborne raiders.
The Victorian Navy was formed and, with 16 ships, was the largest and most powerful of the colonial navies.Commissioned in 1866, and jointly funded by the British and Victorian Governments, Cerberus was built in England to counter the threat of a suspected Russian invasion.
The design was a radical departure from contemporary naval ships. She was not only the first British warship to be powered solely by steam, but she used steam engines to raise the anchors, rotate the turrets and operate the pumps.
She was also the first ship in the world to be built with rotating gun turrets mounted on a central superstructure, thus becoming the forerunner of all modern battleships. She had a double bottom and the area between could be flooded when in action, until her decks were awash, making her a difficult target.
Cerberus arrived in Port Phillip Bay in 1871 and became the flagship of the Victorian Navy. She was withdrawn from service and sold for scrap in 1924.
She was initially purchased for use as a breakwater, but was finally purchased and relocated to her present site by Sandringham City Council in 1926.
Her history of service was such that the Royal Australian Navy named the base at Flinders after the ship. Cerberus was the first vessel to become a registered place in the National Heritage List.
More information about the Cerberus can be found at the Friends of the Cerberus Inc. website.
Page last updated: 10 Dec 2010