Carlsberg toasts Sydney Tall Ship’s 100th birthday

Sydney Tall Ship the Southern Swan and Carlsberg Group share a surprising bond that will see them celebrate the vessel’s 100th anniversary together in January 2022.

Part of the Sydney Tall Ships fleet, the historic Tall Ship will spend her birthday month hosting a series of events and cruises on Sydney Harbour. Ships rarely survive 100 years and even fewer mark the milestone in active service, but the Southern Swan is no ordinary vessel.

The Southern Swan was built at the Frederikssund shipyard in Denmark and launched in 1922. She has sailed the world ever since, with Sydney becoming her permanent home in 1988.

Her current berth is historic Campbell’s Cove in The Rocks, where passengers regularly embark on harbour cruises for a glimpse of history at sea. She’s an impressive sight, whether she has her sails billowing or furled. Stepping on her deck and hearing about her history from the crew is an unforgettable experience.

The Southern Swan started out sailing Baltic trade routes as a cargo vessel. In the 1950s, she carried malted grain (above) for the Tuborg Beer Company, part of the Carlsberg Group.

So it’s fitting that Carlsberg is the official Beer Partner of the Southern Swan’s birthday celebration.

Carlsberg Brand Manager Alison Barry said there were a lot of “Danish feels” in the centenary of the Southern Swan.

“I love that this beautiful Danish Tall Ship now sails Sydney Harbour, past the Sydney Opera House, which was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon,” Barry said.

“I am thrilled that guests at the cocktail party to celebrate this milestone birthday will be toasting the occasion with Danish beer and that the Carlsberg flag will be flying on ship on the night.”

Carlsberg is preparing to mark a milestone of its own in 2022 – its 175th anniversary. The brewery was founded by Jacob Christian Jacobsen who took the name of his five-year-old son, Carl, and the Danish word for hill, “bjerg”, and built the Carlsberg brewery just outside Copenhagen in 1847. 

Carlsberg and Tuborg have grown to be among the eight biggest beer brands in Europe and are sold in more than 150 markets around the world.

The Southern Swan’s passionate owners

The Southern Swan first arrived in Sydney on Australia Day 1988, as part of a First Fleet reenactment. Seven ships—Søren Larsen, R. Tucker Thompson, Anna Kristina, Amorina, Tradewind, Our Svanen, and Bounty—sailed from Portsmouth in May 1987. They followed the route of the original First Fleet, sailing for Australia via Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, and Mauritius.

However, the initial funding ran out when the ships reached Rio de Janeiro, and the captains were considering abandoning the voyage until a radiothon on Macquarie Radio Network raised $900,000 and further corporate sponsorships were secured.

An estimated 3000 vessels were on Sydney Harbour to welcome the fleet. Also there were members of the the Indigenous community due to the work of the Fleets organisers, who had discussed the re-enactments significance for all Australians.

Among the volunteers aboard the tall ships in the First Fleet Re-enactment was Marty Woods, a passionate advocate for their preservation after spending 15 years sailing with them.

Woods went on to buy the Southern Swan in 2007, intent on keeping her in Australian hands after the HMAV Bounty, was sold to a Hong Kong-based company. Woods had been master of the HMAV Bounty and didn’t want to see another historic vessel leave Australian shores.

“When the Southern Swan went up for sale, my wife Lisa and I decided to buy her on the spot,” he said. “We hadn’t seen an accountant, we didn’t have a business plan, but we were determined to keep her in Sydney for the benefit of all.

“The Swan was built as a working ship and 100 years later she’s still a working ship. To me that’s awesome and I wanted to be part of that. Aside from all that history, she’s got a soul of her own and looks as pretty as a ship could be.”

The ship offers a living link to the past aboard a working relic. Passengers have an opportunity to touch, feel and experience real history. They also have a chance to help the crew set the sails, take the wheel of the ship or wear a safety harness to climb the mast to the crow’s nest for even more spectacular views of the harbour.

Marty is keen for as many guests as possible to join him aboard the Southern Swan in January for her 100th birthday. He admits the restrictions and closed borders of the last 18 months haven’t been an easy time for Sydney Tall Ships.

“We have made the most of a pretty devastating time for tourism,” Woods said. “Next to zero income has posed a huge challenge for us to survive. However, we’ve kept a smile and completed a heap of maintenance that would have been difficult when the ships are operating.

“We are back sailing and are ready to ride the wave of tourists that will soon return.”

To book a cruise aboard the Southern Swan during her birthday month, visit

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