Designed and partially completed as a screw sloop-of-war for a South American republic, R.& H. Green of Blackwall finished Highflyer off as a pure sailing ship when the original contract for her construction lapsed due to lack of funds for her engines. Registered at 1,012 tons, she measured 192 feet in length with a 35 foot beam, and was constructed of wood with iron deck beams. Retained by her builders and initially placed under the command of Captain Anthony Enright, she made several fast passages out to Sydney and thence to Shanghai to load tea for home. In 1866, whilst under tow in the Yangtze, she ran aground during the journey up to Hankow and was pulled clear only to ground again, this time far more seriously, on the journey back down-river. Refloated thanks to the skill of the tug captain, she was nevertheless badly damaged and only just managed to make Shanghai where she had to be drydocked for major repairs. After 1870, she sailed as a passenger ship on the the Melbourne run for a few years until sold to Norwegian owners who, having reduced her to a barque, ran her until November 1900 when she caught fire at sea and had to be abandoned.