An iconic part of the Basilica, its organs have been rebuilt a number of times over their history to create the signature sound they produce today.
A 2-manual mechanical action organ, having a compass of C-f ”’ for the Great division and c-f ”’ for the Swell, was built in 1898 by J.C. Bishop & Son of London. This organ which was sited on the North wall of the gallery, was first rebuilt by Gunstar Organ Works of Adelaide, South Australia, in 1965 with electric action and a simple divided facade design.
It was rebuilt again in 1988-90 by Bellsham Pipe Organs of Perth, Western Australia, to an ambitious 4-manual specification including a highly decorated Gothic case made of Philippine Cedar, and a second interconnected 2-manual organ in the south transept. These organs were given in thanksgiving in memory of the many priests of the Congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate who have served the parish since their arrival from Ireland in 1894.
The present rebuild undertaken by the South Island Organ Company of Timaru, New Zealand, is the result of a generous gift by the Hughes family in memory of Alice Hughes (dec.).
The work has been extensive, involving a complete reorganization and expansion of the internal layout, with several new divisions, additional pipework and complete revoicing, new winding system, new serial-drive MIDI electrical system, and low -profile transept console.
The rebuilt organ completed for Easter 1998 is a triumph of eclectic organ design and is amongst the largest Church organ installations in Australia.