Commissioned in 1899 as a light cruiser, Psyche served with the Royal Navy on the Australia Station prior to the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, she took part in the operations to capture Germany's Pacific colonies, and undertook escort duties. Returning to Australian waters, Psyche was laid up in Sydney in late 1914.
In July 1915, Psyche was commissioned into the RAN and was ordered to the Bay of Bengal. Based at Rangoon, she carried out routine patrols along the Burma Coast and Malay Archipelago. Disease, combined with poor food, inclement weather and dull duties led to dissatisfaction and indiscipline that culminated in several court martials in February and March 1916. Psyche was recalled to Singapore and an inquiry was held to determine the cause of the indiscipline and recommend measures to correct it.
Psyche returned to duty in the Bay of Bengal in April 1916 and in June 1916 she was redeployed to Hong Kong to patrol off the South Coast of China and Indo-China. Poor conditions continued to prevail aboard and in July 1916 almost a half of of the crew were suffering from illness.
Psyche returned to the Bay of Bengal in October 1916 and continued patrol work until she was recalled to Australia in September 1917, and paid off. She was recommissioned for patrol work off the eastern Australian coast in November and remained a commissioned vessel of the RAN until March 1918. Psyche was finally sold in 1922 and ended her days as a timber lighter.