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Ships That Pass




It is CO years since I first went north and reside in R.oebourne and Cossack, leaving there in 1893 During; that time I came south on several occasions. In 1902 I landed in Carnarvon and 5 years later' started business as a stock and shipping agent. Among my firm's agencies were large b >>ers of stock for Perth and, in a ks ser degree, foi,* Singapore. These agencies necessitated numerous trips by sea, sometimes accompan ying shipments. Later, as a North West member of Parlia ment for 23 years. I had periodic ally to visit my 'electorate, travell ing many times as far north as Port Darwin. During the 60 years I voyaged in 35 different vessels, involving over 100 trips. Many of my old fellow travellers end (shipping friends have sugges ted that I should write some of

my experiences.

ADELAIDE STEAMSHIP CO Pii'st I shall deal with vessels of tile Adelaide Steamship Com pany Limited, to which fjrm Wes tern Australia owes a great" deal. This 'company pioneered the ship ping trade to our North and as sisted materially in the develop ment of the North West.

I fjrst travelled to Cossack in the.Franklin (730 tons). There had not been a boat for nearly two months and the little vessel was literally loaded from 'truck to keelson.' Passengers had to &leep wherever they could: there wero five sittings at table; the decks were loaded to half way up the funnel with waggons, traps and other deck cargo and there were several horses aboard going up to R,oehourne races and to Kim berley.

Whilst at Roebourne I travelled in several other bouts of this line , viz.. Rob Roy (393 tons); Otway (5C8); Albany (878), Victorian, (71 5); Flinders (502); and Ferret <347V

The Rob Roy was an old friend In 1882 she brought my parents and their family1 up from Albany to Fremantle. We had arrived from Tasmania by the P and O Carthage, There was no railway t,o Perth and the family was too large to travel overlaid in Chi)) per'S mail coaches. The Rob Roy camp out from England as a sailing vessel named Candahaar and later was converted to steam.

The Otway was skippered by John Pincombe who, on retiring from the sea, purchased the Cam ai'von Hotel. He was very popu lar and his house was patronised by most of the squatters .and trav ellers of the Gascoyne district.

The Albany's master was an other did friend, Captain Anthon, who 1877 was in charge ,of the Devon, which took our family from Melbourne to Tasmania. The Albany was originally the Claude Hamilton, bought by the company, lengthened and renam


The Flinders was a very fast little vessel and would have made an ideal pleasure yacht. . Later she was X'unning on our South coast, and I believe was lost s<mte where near Albany. ?

The littlo Ferret had a history. She was built on the Clyde in 1S71

| to carry passengers across "the i Firth and Forth before the long

[ bridge was built. Later charter

ed for a pleasure crifise, she disap peared. Her captain had alter ed her name to India and had talc eii her to Brazil from which he carried a large cargo to Cape Town. From there he made for Melbourne, calling at Albany for bunkering. On arrival at Mel bourne, the stolen steamer was .identified, the. captain and his

|Fuper-cargo imprisoned, and the [vessel sold to the ASS Co, who re

| named her Ferret.


Whilst in business in" Carnarvon I travelled jn the Allinga (2,218 tons). Bullarra (1725), Koombana (3,669) and th(» stock boats Dil kerra (2,698), Tarcoola (2,673), and Junee (2,251).

The Allinga was the first twin screw steamer I had ever been aboard. She was built more for cargo-carrying1 and her passenger accommodation was not to good.

. The Bullarra was, in my opini on, the most, serviceable vesel on the coast at her time and was not ed for her steadiness in all weath

ers. Her Captain (Johnny Rees) who later for a while was in com m and of the Koombana., was ex tremely popular all along the coast. Fortunately <for him, he got another vessel before the, Koombana disaster.

The .Koombana (3,669) was the last passenger ship put on the North West run in 1909 by the Company. She was a powerful vessel, fitted wih every possible convenience for tropical travel, arid all hoped that she would have a Jong and successful career. But it was not to be.

Ill 1912 both the Bullarra and Koombana were berthed in Port ftedland. A willy-willy was re ported approaching. ' The mast

er.s of both vessels being: of t¥e opinion that their ships would be safer at sea, steamed out of the harbour. The Bullarra, missing for some days, eventually reach ed Cossack. She was badly dam aged,. Later she Ifmped into Fremantle with'a temporary fun nel made of corrugated iron and timber and minus several of her boats and deck fittings.

The Koombano was never seen again and it is surmised that she went down, with all hands, some where of the 90-mile beach. Only a door wrenched from its hinges was picked up. All her officers and most of her passengers were well known on the North West

coast and l^er loss cast a gloom

over the State.

Although I greatly admired the ship's appointments, I never Ilk ed her, considering her too top heavy. She always had a list, even when tied up at jetties.

The loss of this fine vessel, and the inauguration of the State Ship ping Service, apparently discour aged our old friends and their passenger vessels were shortly af terwards withdrawn from our North West coast.

Whilst in Carnarvon I also trav elled in several small boats. The Venus, of about 70 tons, acted as tender to the lock hospitals. Dur ing a drought I chartered her for two trips to go to Dirk Hartog Island for sheep.

Invited by the Colonial Secret*

ary (Mr J. D. Connolly) I accom|

panied him in the Harbour De* partirient's Penguin to Cape Ins j cription when he opened the new .1 light there. This little ves :

sel was afterwards lost on the !

South coast.

The .Melbourne SS Company's Kurnalpi (650) tons came up to Carnarvon in December 1917, for wool. I had promised to join my family in Perth for Christmas and po had Mervyn Forrest, now MLC, The shiip had no pasenger accom modation, but it was agreed to take us. She was to sail at 4 pm on the 19th. .

.About noon that day 52 shear vrs and shedhands.came into Car narvon. They were told the ship could not take them. Nothing daunted, they shouldered their swags, walked pie three miles down to the ship and told the master they wore going n,o matter what happened. As there were only two constables in town, the. agent did the only thing possible. He collected £5 from each man and sent down a carcass of beef, some live sheep, a quantity of bread and pome bngs oi potatoes.

We got away about midnight and steamed down inside Dirk H:irtog island and through the South Passage That gave us calm water for the first day. But what a time the shearers, who were under tarpaulins on the deck had when we reached the open


As there were no stewards and lonly one cook, some of the pass engei*s gave a hand, cutting up meat, killing sheep and peeling potatoes. Fortunately there was - wide range in the cook house and the chef always had dozens of pieces of meat grilling and tins of mashed potatoes. When a passenger wa hungry he rinsed a plate in a bucket of salt water, handed it to the cook, who inouir < d "Grilled steak, sir, or grilled chop sir," Then the cook would dive his hand into the potatoes and add pome to the meat. It was very h,ot and often the, cook w.uld wipe his brow with - the pnnie hand nnd call out "Who's next." Mervyn and I helped our selves to the potatoes.

We reached Perth on Christmas Eve,.

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