The clipper ship, built in Sunderland, England, and launched on 7 May 1864. It was built by William Pile, Hay and Co. for transporting passengers and goods between Britain and Australia. Between 1864 and 1887, the ship made 23 annual return voyages from London and Plymouth to Adelaide, South Australia and played an important part in the immigration of Australia.
On the return voyages she carried passengers, wool, and copper from Adelaide and Port Augusta to London. After 1887, the ship carried coal around the British coast, and timber across the Atlantic. In 1893, she became a floating hospital in Southampton, and in 1923 was purchased by the Royal Navy.
In 1948, she was decommissioned and remained on the River Clyde until 1989 when she was damaged by flooding. In order to safeguard the vessel, she was protected as a listed building, but in 1991 she sank at her mooring. In 1992 was recovered by the Scottish Maritime Museum. In 2010, the Scottish Government decided that the ship would be moved to Adelaide. In late November 2013, loaded on the deck of a cargo ship, City of Adelaide departed Europe bound for Port Adelaide, where she arrived on February 2014.