Australia: Our national stories
By Dr Robert Lee of the University of Western Sydney
Australian Heritage Commission, 2003
Chapter 2: Ports and Shipping, 1788-1970
- Early Shipping in New South Wales
- Intercontinental Maritime Trade in the Age of Sail
- Intercontinental Steamer Services to Australia
- The Age of Coastal Shipping
- Harbour Works
- Shipbuilding and Repair
- Steamers on the Murray-Darling System
Port Fairy Lighthouse.
Photo: P Wright/Australian Heritage Photographic Library
New South Wales was conceived as a gaol and the subsidiary motives for its settlement were the provision of ship's supplies and security for the Admiralty and the East India Company. Until 1813, this Company had an official monopoly of all English trade with Asia (including Australia), so there was little incentive for the new colony to get into maritime enterprise. In fact, there was a host of regulations designed to prevent precisely that. Early governors were anxious to prevent the possibility of convicts escaping, and in 1791 the first of them prohibited the building of vessels more than fourteen feet in length. This regulation was later relaxed, but under the East India Company's monopoly, no vessel capable of trading with Asia or the South Seas could be built before 1813. This was not a propitious beginning to what would become in many ways a maritime society.
Despite these prohibitions, very early it became evident that the new colony would need some maritime transport. The immediate environs of Sydney proved to be limited for agricultural purposes, but fourteen miles (23km) up the Parramatta River there was rich pasturage and good soil. Parramatta became the colony's first agricultural centre, and as early as 1789 the government built the little Rose Hill Packet, colloquially known as The Lump, to connect the two settlements. The unlovely and unromantically named Lump rightly can be considered the beginnings of modern transport within Australia. She was soon joined by other government vessels which, as the colony started to acquire a regular economic life, began operating a scheduled service, charging fares and freight like any other shipping line. Private enterprise began when the emancipists Henry Kable and James Underwood's thirty-ton schooner Endeavour entered the trade in 1801. They were followed soon after by fellow emancipist Isaac Nichols, later to become the colony's first postmaster, who built and traded with his 33-tonner Governor Hunter from 1805. Underwood was a talented shipbuilder, and built most of the colony's early vessels, including the first substantial vessel, the ship-rigged King George of nearly 200 tons, completed around 1805.
As settlement extended to the very much richer soil along the banks of the Hawkesbury in the first decade of the nineteenth century, shipping services too started running there, beginning as early as 1798. These involved a short voyage in open ocean from Sydney Harbour north to the mouth of the Hawkesbury, so in not much over a decade after Sydney was founded, the prohibitions on seaward commerce had become obsolete. The sea voyage to the Hawkesbury was about three times as long as the land trip, but carried freight for about two-thirds the price. However, many Hawkesbury farmers used their own drays to take produce to Parramatta or Sydney, so the roads probably took more of the grain and other produce than the boats until steamers entered the trade in the 1840s. This trade - the first Australian domestic blue-water navigation - lasted until the early twentieth century, despite the ready access from the district to Sydney by a good quality road from as early as 1813 and a railway from 1864.
As early as the 1790s there was interest in exploiting the enormous number of fur seals and sperm whales found on the southeastern coast of New South Wales, around the Bass Strait islands and along the Tasmanian east coast. This bloody traffic was the basis of the early Australian shipbuilding and maritime industry in general, for there were enormous profits to be made out of whale oil (then the best lighting fuel in use) and seal fur. The early whalers and sealers were British, but soon American and French vessels began defying the British claims to a monopoly, and Sydney and Hobart's ships' chandlers were more than happy to cater to their needs. A domestic whaling industry eventually emerged, and the number of whaling ships operating out of Sydney increased from five in 1827 to 76 in 1835.4 At this time about two thirds of Australian shipping was engaged in whaling. Until around 1840 (when wool became king) whaling was the colony's most valuable industry and whale products its main export.5 Meanwhile, other commodities also attracted maritime trade, such as cedar getting (initially on the Hunter, but later on other rivers north and south of Sydney) and carrying coal from Newcastle, a trade that dated from 1804.
Coal was used both for domestic and industrial purposes. Sydney's first steam mill had opened as early as 1813, and in 1831 the first steamship arrived in Sydney. This was the 256-ton schooner-rigged paddle wheeler Sophia Jane, which, like all the early steamers, was an auxiliary steamer, using her paddle wheels only when winds were inadequate or contrary. In the same year the William the Fourth was built on a tributary of the Hunter near Newcastle, as Australia's first steamer. These auxiliary steamers were ideal for conditions on the coastal rivers of New South Wales, because they could exploit the wind at sea, but use their (rather inefficient) engines effectively in the close confines of the coastal rivers. Initially this meant the Hawkesbury and, more importantly, the Hunter and its tributaries; and in 1839 Australia's first lasting steamship line, the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, was established in Sydney. It had three sister ships, all imported iron auxiliary paddle steamers, rejoicing in the names of Rose, Shamrock and Thistle. As its name indicated, most of its trade was with Newcastle, but it also traded to the new and quickly thriving port of Melbourne.6
While coal had been mined around Newcastle since the early days of the colony, it was only around 1850 that mining became a major industry. The Australian Agricultural (or AA) Company had a legal monopoly over much of the Newcastle deposits. It prevented a rapid growth, since it favoured mining small quantities of coal to be sold at high prices. Even this trade, though, was sufficient to justify starting work on a tramway from its mines to the port of Newcastle as early as 1849. The great stimulus to coal mining at Newcastle was the California gold rush of 1849. No reliable source of coal was closer to San Francisco than Newcastle, so from 1850 American ships flooded into the port in search of fuel to power California's burgeoning energy needs. Neither mines, nor port, nor tramroads could cope with the demand. Improving this situation was hard, too, since men as well as coals sailed across the Pacific on these ships, meaning that labour was scarce and expensive. The AA Company monopoly also prevented the exploitation of coal deposits south of Sydney around Wollongong until the 1850s. Thereafter this also became an important shipping and mining district, as well as the main centre of the New South Wales dairy industry. There were intimate connections between all three industries, and, typically, T.S. Mort was at the centre of much of the activity, running refrigerated ships as well as dairies to provide their cargos as early as the 1870s.
The New South Wales Public Works Department Engineer in Chief for Harbours and Rivers, E. O. Moriarty, had designed a scheme for Newcastle as a coal and general port as early as 1856, although at this stage rival coal companies were attempting to monopolise it as far as possible. From 1861 the government railway was shipping coal to Newcastle, and it soon became more important than the colliery's tramways. In addition, by 1863 the policy of government ownership and operation of the coal-loading cranes at the port had triumphed. Moriarty installed an elaborate system of hydraulically powered coal loading cranes, powered from a central hydraulic power station, which survives to this day. He also had Newcastle Harbour dredged and breakwaters built to scour the mouth of the Hunter to give reliable access for the largest of ocean-going ships. The Hunter was the only New South Wales river on which this technique worked effectively, and the harbour works at Newcastle, still in use although updated, remain Moriarty's greatest legacy.
Newcastle became much more than a coal port after the 1860s. The reason for this was the extension of the Great Northern Railway into its hinterland. From the 1830s, the main port of the region had been Morpeth, the head of navigation for all practical purposes of the Hunter River. Morpeth, however, was twice the distance from the sea by river as it was by land. The sinuous river also meant that the new railway, opened from Newcastle to Maitland in 1857, did not pass by Morpeth. Morpeth shipping interests were able to secure the construction of a branch railway from East Maitland to Morpeth in 1864. This was a very rare instance of a railway being built in New South Wales to serve a port other than Sydney or Newcastle. This railway, though, was a total failure. Shippers increasingly preferred to rail goods from the interior direct to the saltwater wharves at Newcastle. Moreover, as ships increased in size, Morpeth became increasingly inaccessible.
The inexorable decline of Morpeth as a port (and a railway terminus) was a product of equally inexorable improvements in railway and shipping technology. From 1889 wool from the New England region was being railed to Newcastle for direct export to Britain. This did not last long, however, for the opening of the great Hawkesbury River Bridge in the same year connected Sydney and Newcastle by rail. The NSWGR promptly introduced differential rates, under which goods from the northern part of the colony in effect were carried free from Maitland to Sydney. This was the final nail in the coffin of Morpeth as a port, although a fitful trade by small steamers lingered into the 1930s, and its useless railway limped on into the early 1950s. It also meant that Newcastle was reduced to a specialist coal port, rather than becoming the port of choice for the extensive territory to its north and west. Thus, in New South Wales railway rate policy deliberately and consciously centralised rail traffic on Sydney and prevented the development of rival ports.
Shipping could support surprising linkages between industries and create new patterns of trade. An early example was the smelting of copper ore mined in Australia's first ever mineral boom of the 1840s. The first copper mine was established at Kapunda in South Australia in 1844, and another larger one opened nearby at Burra the next year. Transportation of ore was difficult, as the sea was ninety miles away. The ore needed smelting and local fuel supplies were limited - there is no coal and little timber in the region. The solution was expensive transport by cart to Adelaide (until the railway was completed) then shipment to Newcastle, thence shipping by rail to a smelter built especially to process the South Australian ore. The smelter, though, was beside the Newcastle coal mine, not the Burra or Kapunda copper mine, because Newcastle coal was closer to salt water than South Australian copper. Similarly, the rail links necessary for efficient operation could be built far more cheaply at Newcastle than in South Australia.
This early use of Newcastle's coal and maritime resources anticipated many such linkages created over the following century and more, including between Newcastle and Whyalla, South Australia, source after 1915 of much of the iron ore for Newcastle's steel industry established in that year. Once again, it was Newcastle's good harbour (by the standard of river harbours on the coast north of Sydney) and plentiful high quality coal which made it the obvious choice for the first serious and lasting Australian foray into iron and steel making.
The European settlement of Australia had begun with the extraordinary voyage across the world of the First Fleet between 1786 and 1788. Such voyages, both by naval vessels and ships of the British East India Company, became the norm for the new colony's links with the outside world. Traditional sailing ships, little changed since those of the First Fleet and not much faster, continued to provide Australia's links with the outside world until the late 1840s. The abolition of the East India Company's monopoly in 1813 meant that these vessels belonged to many different owners. Some American vessels began to call at Australian ports, largely because American sailors were so active in the southern whale fishery (where one participant went on to write Moby Dick) and in sealing on the southern Australian coast. The opening of Chinese ports to legal Western trade following the First Opium War of 1839-1842 made Sydney especially a more important port in world trade, because it could be a stage in round-the-world triangular voyages, typically from Europe or America to Australia, then on to China, and then back to the home port.
By the 1850s, the clipper ship was setting the pace on the England-Australia run, with Melbourne as the ultimate destination. The clippers were named after their raking bow and they were built for speed above all. Slim and elegant, they carried enormous quantities of sail and were driven hard in the high latitudes of the Great Circle route, which took them non-stop from English ports to Melbourne through Antarctic waters. Most timber clippers were built in the New England states of the USA, where there were ample supplies of timber and a strong maritime tradition. However, by the 1860s British-built iron clippers were dominating the trade. Among the most famous clipper ships of the time were the Red Jacket, the Thermopylae and the Cutty Sark. The Red Jacket established a record transatlantic time of 13 days (which still stands for sailing vessels) on her maiden voyage from New York to Liverpool in January 1854, and then sailed to Melbourne in the then unprecedented time of 67 days non-stop. She returned to Liverpool via Cape Horn, once again non-stop, in 73 days.
Clipper ships continued to be competitive with steamers for many decades. The Glasgow-built iron clipper Cutty Sark, for instance, was not built until 1869 and was in more-or-less continuous service on the Australia run until 1894, generally completing her passages between 67 and 85 days. Typical of many clippers, she often brought immigrants to Australia, then sailed to China with coal from Newcastle, New South Wales, returning to England with fresh China tea. Equally commonly, she would return directly from an Australian port laden with wool, often carrying loads of over 4,000 bales. Australian ports she served included Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane. Her exact contemporary and rival, the Aberdeen-built Thermopylae, sailed on her maiden voyage from Gravesend to Hobson's Bay, Melbourne, in 63 days. This was and remains the fastest passage by a sailing vessel on record. She then sailed in ballast to Newcastle, took on coal for Shanghai (which she reached in 31 days) and then sailed from Fouzhou (then spelt Foochow) to London in 91 days.7
The age of the clipper ships lasted for nearly a century, although after the 1860s they were mostly used for transporting goods. Bulky goods were their speciality, since they had no engines in their holds to prevent the loading of huge loads like logs for wharf piles. As early as the mid-1880s, steamers rather than sailing ships were taking much freight shipped over long distances, especially more valuable items.8 However, right up until World War II, clipper ships were regular visitors to Australian ports, especially the South Australian wheat ports such as Port Lincoln, Wallaroo and Port Victoria, and also Newcastle, where they loaded coal. Clipper ships needed no fuel, and in their latter years they sailed mostly under the German or Finnish flag with very young, not very well paid crews. The last clipper ship in Australian waters was the Pamir, built in Hamburg in 1905. For much of her long life she made regular voyages to Port Lincoln and Sydney, always returning to Europe around Cape Horn. Indeed, it was on the Pamir that most men still alive who sailed round the Cape made their voyages in the late 1930s. In 1941 she was in Wellington when Finland entered World War II on the German side, and so was confiscated, sailing under the New Zealand flag until 1948. She sailed often to Australian ports during the war, and left Sydney for the last time with a load of cement bound for Wellington on 17 April 1947. It was the last ever voyage of a windjammer from an Australian port. The Pamir returned to German ownership and lasted another decade, before foundering on her last voyage from Buenos Aires to Hamburg in September 1957. Her loss marked the end of the era of the clipper ship.
Although the first steamship had arrived in Sydney as early as 1831, this date certainly did not mark the beginning of regular services by steam. For twenty years and more, steamers operated only close to ports while the free power of the wind continued to power vessels across the oceans. Simultaneously with the development of the clipper ship, though, was the emergence of another type of vessel based on similar principles. This was the fast auxiliary steamer - essentially a clipper ship with an auxiliary steam engine, which would be used only when winds were unfavourable. They were screw-powered vessels, since paddles could slow a ship and were vulnerable to damage in the wild seas of the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean where vessels on the Great Circle route made such spectacularly fast if uncomfortable progress under canvas. Although their engines were neither powerful nor efficient, auxiliary steamers could make very fast times since they could sail under canvas at high speed and did not need to carry too much coal. Their speed was about seven knots under steam and eleven knots under sail. On a typical voyage by auxiliary steamer from England to Australia the engine would be used for about fifteen of the sixty days passage, mostly in tropical waters in the mid-Atlantic. The heyday of the auxiliary steamer coincided with that of the clipper ship in the 1850s. Fares were always higher on auxiliary steamers, since they cost more to run and were faster, so the steamers tended to offer more luxurious accommodation. The finest of them, the Royal Charter, even had a piano on board for her passengers' amusement.
The origins of steamship services to Australia are intimately connected with the history of its postal services, since the first regular steamer service arrived on a mail contract as early as 1852. Steamships were not yet particularly efficient, and so were very expensive to operate on such long routes at this time, and the lucrative mail contracts (which were so lucrative that they amounted to subsidies) unquestionably meant that steamer services began between England and Australia about twenty years before improved steamship technology meant they were commercially viable. As discussed in chapter 7 below, the first steamship to arrive in Australia on a regular service was the Peninsula and Orient Steam Navigation Company's Chusan in August 1852. Her arrival would not have occurred had it not been for the mail contract P&O had secured, but was certainly the beginning of a new era of far more safe and regular travel than the clipper ships offered, although auxiliary steamers were still faster until well into the 1860s.
The first mail contracts provided for a two monthly sailing from Singapore to Sydney taking 55 days. At Singapore, the steamers connected with another P&O steamer plying between Suez and Hong Kong. Transit across Egypt was by a mixture of rail, camel and horse, until the completion of the railway from Alexandria to Suez in 1858, and then another P&O steamer completed the link between Alexandria and England. It was a slow route compared with the clippers or auxiliary steamers, but it was safer and more comfortable, since the entire voyage was made in friendly latitudes and stops were frequent, as indeed they had to be to take on coal. However, the 55-day five-stop voyage from Sydney to Singapore of the steamer Chusan in 1852 compared very poorly with the record 58-day non-stop passage of the auxiliary steamer Royal Charter from Melbourne to Cork in Ireland in 1859. There was one big difference though - the passengers on the Chusan all lived to enjoy their renown, whereas the Royal Charter foundered only days later with the loss of 383 passengers and crew, her weak steam engine unable to prevent her being blown onto rocks on the coast of North Wales. The tragedy destroyed much of the prestige of the auxiliary steamers and hastened the triumph of regular steam services for those who could afford them.9
The forty-year period after the arrival of the Chusan saw rapid improvements in maritime steam engine technology as well as in naval architecture. Steamers became much bigger; steel hulls replaced iron; successively compound, triple expansion and even quadruple expansion engines meant that steam was used for more efficiently. Larger steamers carried many more passengers and were much safer as well as cheaper to operate. The economics inexorably came to favour steam over sail. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 did not have the impact on these services so often assumed, since passengers and mail could be transhipped by rail across Egypt cheaply and quickly. Indeed, P&O did not use the Canal until 1881, since the train was actually faster, not to mention cheaper than the astronomical fees the Suez Canal Company charged its users.
Steamer services developed rapidly in the 1860s, with regular fortnightly services established by P&O across the Indian Ocean to Galle in Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from where there were connections on to India, Suez and Europe. At the same time the Pacific Royal Mail Line set up a service across the Pacific via New Zealand and the Polynesian island of Rapa to Panama, from where passengers crossed the isthmus on the Panama Railroad, the world's first and shortest transcontinental railway. Connecting ships from Panama and Colón (on the Caribbean coast) enabled passengers and mail to reach San Francisco, US east coast ports and Europe.10 During the 1870s the passenger liner began to assume its modern appearance, with a straight (or nearly so) bow replacing the clipper bow of early steamers. Masts were gradually truncated and steamers began no longer to carry sail at all. Passenger decks above the hull, whose cabins had windows rather than portholes, began to appear and multiply, as conditions for first and second class passengers at least became positively luxurious. Typical of the new vessels were P&O's RMS Assam and RMS Siam of 1876 and 1877, the first vessels over 3,000 tons regularly to serve Australian ports on the run from Galle to Sydney. The era of POSH travel (Port Out, Starboard Home, to avoid sun on the cabin in the Red Sea) had arrived.
P&O's Australian services had begun as ancillary to those to India, Singapore and China but, in time, they became the line's most important. By the 1920s Sydney rather than Bombay was P&O's premier destination, and its best vessels were on the Australia rather than the India or China runs. This of course reflected the growing importance of Australia in the British Empire as a whole, and the growing wealth of the Australian middle class, which was far more numerous than the relatively small population of civil and military officials and English businessmen who provided the bulk of the clientele on the ships to and from India, Singapore and China.
P&O did not have the field to itself, although, thanks to the mail contracts, it was first and was always the premier line. Alone among companies serving Australia, P&O never carried third class passengers. Its steamers were for first and second class passengers only, carried the Royal Mail, and offered their passengers the kind of colonialist pampering which their crews - recruited from across the British and Portuguese colonies of Asia (most of the chefs were Goan) - were well trained to provide. P&O's main competitor on the England-Australia run was the Orient Steam Navigation Company, established in 1878, which in its first year gave passengers in all three classes the option of travel on its new Orient, then the largest ship on the run. By the early 1880s between them the two companies offered a fortnightly service direct from London to Sydney, stopping en route at Malta, Suez, Aden, Colombo, Albany (later altered to Fremantle), Adelaide and Melbourne. By this time the India and China runs were quite separate, although connections were maintained at Colombo, then the world's busiest port. By the first decade of the twentieth century both companies were building fleets of new large vessels of around the 10,000 ton mark, the P&O ships all having names beginning with M and the Orient liners names beginning with O.
While P&O did not carry immigrants to Australia, the Orient Line certainly did, and other companies were also active in the immigrant trade. The most important of these was the Blue Anchor line, operating a fleet of vessels between England and Australia via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Suez Canal fees. Blue Anchor vessels had all-white crews, as required for immigrant ships under the British Merchant Shipping Act. Apparently only the wealthy had sufficient savoir-faire to enjoy the decadent luxuries of Asiatic service without being corrupted by the experience. In 1909 Blue Anchor's largest and finest ship, the Waratah, foundered off South Africa with the loss of over a thousand passengers and crew. It was the last major loss of a passenger ship on the Australia run. P&O, seeing an opportunity to get into the profitable immigrant trade without spoiling the snobbish reputation of its mail steamers, promptly bought Blue Anchor's remaining assets and set up the P&O Branch Line with them, continuing in the same trade, still via South Africa. This line operated until 1936 when P&O wound it up after the immigrant trade dwindled in the wake of the Great Depression.11
Meanwhile, a whole network of regular steamer services to and from Australia was established in the second half of the nineteenth century. The major European powers of France, Germany, and even Austria-Hungary for a few years before 1914, operated subsidised mail liners to Australian ports. The Japanese Mail Line, NYK, ran a similar service from Yokohama to Melbourne calling at Shanghai, Hong Kong, Brisbane and Sydney. This was cheap and popular, as Japanese standards of service and safety were always very high. A number of American lines ran trans-Pacific services, notably the Matson Line, and these would last right up till the end of regular liner services to Australian ports around 1970. Surabaya-based liners of the Dutch KPM (Colonial Packet Ship Company) linked Australia with Singapore via ports in the Netherlands East Indies. After World War I, Italy replaced Austria-Hungary in offering regular services from Trieste to Sydney. Italian ships were always cheaper than English ones, and Trieste was a convenient port for destinations on the European continent, so, even before large scale Italian migration to Australia, Italian ships were popular. The French mail vessels of Messageries Maritimes were definitely only for the most sophisticated of Australian travellers.
Standards on passenger liners continued to improve after World War I. P&O bought out the Orient Line in 1918, although management of the two companies remained separate for another forty years. P&O had already taken over the British India Line in 1914 and very aggressively established a virtual monopoly on British mail and passenger shipping to India, Australia, and China. The rationalisation, combined with the need to make good the heavy losses of shipping during the war, meant that a whole new generation of larger, faster and more luxurious vessels went into service during the 1920s and 1930s. These included five new 20,000-ton O class liners for the Orient line, including the Orontes and Otranto, in the 1920s, and P&O's five magnificent all-white 'Strath' ships (with names like Strathnaver, Strathavon and Strathaird) which joined the run between 1931 and 1938. The two lines' services were co-ordinated, and regular weekly sailings were the norm. The weekly departures from Sydney in particular were real gala affairs, with pipe bands playing and thousands of coloured paper streamers linking those on board ship and those on shore until severed by the slow movement of the vessel from the wharf.
World War II brought an immediate end to regular line voyages, as virtually all British and most Australian passenger vessels were put into military service as troop ships. During the war the great event in passenger shipping was the brief presence in Sydney of the two great Cunard liners RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Mary. They had been built for the trans-Atlantic trade, and came to Australia to collect the second AIF to fight in Egypt. After the war, though, the first regular line voyage from England to Australia did not leave until February 1947. Aeroplanes already had replaced the liners for essential and fast passenger and mail transport.
Despite the ever-increasing importance of air transport for the carriage of mails and passengers whose status or wealth could justify the high fares, in the post-war period shipping services continued to be important, and liner services were developed and improved right up until the 1960s. Changes in the patterns of migration to Australia meant that new companies entered the trade. Lloyd Triestino was joined by a two other Italian companies, Flotta Lauro and Sitmar; and Greek lines entered the Australia run for the first time, notably Chandris Lines. P&O-Orient Lines, as it became, also began operating more sailings via Panama. The Greek and Italian lines had lower cost structures, which helped maintain their viability. They also had a more relaxed social environment on board than P&O, where in first class it seemed to many Australians that a Viceroy of India was about to step on board years after there were no longer any Viceroys to do so. The Greek lines and Sitmar tended to use second-hand vessels, but Flotta Lauro built a number of magnificent new vessels for the Australia run, including the Galileo and the Angelina Lauro. Sitmar's vessels had very un-Italian names like Fairsea and Fairstar, while Flotta Lauro and Lloyd Triestino maintained a far more Italian image. Meanwhile, the English company Shaw Saville also continued in the immigrant trade, and even New Zealand vessels built for the England to New Zealand run via Panama were pressed into bringing hundreds of thousands of migrants to Australia from Mediterranean countries through the 1950s and 1960s.
The massive post-war migration thus gave deceptive and temporary buoyancy to passenger shipping between Europe and Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. The cheap fares migrant ships offered on the return run gave many young Australians an opportunity to visit Europe as working tourists, the first generation of Australians ever to enjoy this kind of intercontinental mobility. Across the Pacific, the American Matson Line's stylish ships Mariposa and Monterey continued to offer monthly sailings in cruise-like atmosphere right through the 1960s. Air transport remained expensive right up till 1970, both because aircraft were very expensive to operate until the age of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet, and also because Australian aviation regulations were specifically designed to prevent the proliferation of cut-price charter air operations as developed in Europe during the 1960s. This greatly assisted the shipping companies, although clear evidence that the era was doomed came when Chandris lines began operating services from Australian ports to Singapore connecting with cheap charter flights for the rest of the journey to England or Europe.
Meanwhile, the premier services continued to be offered, as they had for a century, by P&O. P&O built a magnificent series of new vessels between 1948 and 1961 specifically for the Australia trade. These began with the elegant and fast RMS Himalaya of 1949 and culminated in two enormous vessels, the RMS Oriana of 1960 and the Canberra of 1961. At 41,915 and 45,170 tons respectively, these were the largest and fastest passenger and mail ships ever to visit Australia regularly. On her maiden voyage in December 1960 Oriana made the fastest ever passage to Australia of 27 days from Southampton to Sydney. It is unlikely ever to be bettered, for times were changing fast for P&O and for liner voyages in general. The British Empire was fading fast, and the jet age was dawning. In 1954 P&O vessels called at Bombay and Colombo for the last time, and in 1970 the old China service to Singapore and Hong Kong was abandoned. One bright spot was the introduction in 1961 of services between Australia and Japan via Hong Kong and other Asian ports by P&O subsidiary the Eastern and Australian SN Company, or E&A. This used two new Belgian vessels made redundant by the sudden independence of the Congo, rechristened with the very traditional P&O names of Cathay and Chitral. As the British Empire in Asia was wound up, Australia remained the focus of its passenger operations, but the line voyages were reduced in frequency until they became positioning voyages to move ships between the northern and southern summer cruising seasons. The closure of the Suez Canal by warfare in 1967 was a final blow for the line voyages. By the time the Canal was reopened seven years later, the jumbo jet era had arrived and, with it, the era of the regular scheduled ocean liner voyage had come to an end.12
While trans-oceanic shipping always had a certain prestige and glamour, Australia also had - and continues to have - a rich tradition of coastal navigation. Before the building of railways, ships were the main transportation links between the Australian colonies as well as along their coasts. In the age of sail, most ships were owned by their captains or by relatively small syndicates. This situation lasted until the end of regular voyages by sailing ships around the time of World War II. As with international shipping, sailing ships were only used for carrying freight after about 1860, although they survived on such mundane duties for many decades. One of the last in service was the schooner Huia, which carried hardwood from Grafton on the north coast of New South Wales to New Zealand ports and softwoods in the other direction until about 1940. Sail could also be fast, and few ships ever crossed the Tasman faster than the Huia in a gale.13
However, from the time steamships were introduced into Australian waters, steamship companies began to dominate the regular line voyages carrying passengers and goods around the coast of the continent. Even as early as the 1830s, steamships were well suited to coastal trade. Their engines gave them manoeuvrability - and hence safety - across the notoriously hazardous sand bars at the mouths of so many rivers along the eastern littoral, and the distances were relatively short, meaning they did not have to carry huge supplies of coal. The Hunter River Steam Navigation Company of 1839 was the first of many such enterprises. Benjamin Boyd (1803-1851), a wealthy London entrepreneur, hoped to use steam power to establish Twofold Bay some 600 kilometres south of Sydney as a centre of maritime commerce. He only lived in New South Wales for less than a decade (sailing out from England in 1842 in his own yacht!) but brought with him three steamers to establish the trade. Twofold Bay was an excellent harbour, but had little in the way of a natural hinterland. Few roads, and no railways, would ever serve its modestly named ports of Boyd Town and East Boyd. Even Boyd was forced to use Boyd Town as a place of transhipment, and had to build a wool store and shipyard in Sydney from where his goods were exported. Boyd's shipping (not to mention pastoral and banking) empire proved to be transient, and by 1849 he was bankrupt. His death was as spectacular as his life, disappearing and probably eaten by cannibals on Guadalcanal in 1851 while attempting to establish a new commercial and political empire in Melanesia.14
Less spectacular and far less egotistical ventures proved more durable. In Tasmania there were two companies operating by the early 1850s, one in Launceston and the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company based in Hobart. Sydney remained the centre of the industry, though, with the establishment of the Kiama Steam Navigation Company in 1854 and the Grafton Steam Navigation Company in 1857. These traded respectively to the coast south of Sydney and to the Clarence River port of Grafton, some 40 miles (65km) upstream from the mouth. Grafton was the furthest inland saltwater vessels ever sailed on Australian rivers. The Kiama Company soon had a rival in the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company and the Grafton Company in the Clarence and New England Company. Through various amalgamations they settled down to become the North Coast Steam Navigation Company and the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company.
These two companies dominated the trade north and south of Sydney until the 1920s, when a reasonable road opened along the south coast and a railway along the north coast. They survived this competition, though, and the North Coast Company was even able to compete with the train on speed with its two express liners, the first and second TSS Wollongbar steaming from Sydney to Byron Bay faster than the mail train and carrying their passengers in rather more comfort. The coastal passenger traffic came to an end after Pearl Harbor, and indeed the Japanese torpedoed the second Wollongbar in 1943 with the loss of all hands. After 1945 both companies were confronted with enormous wartime losses, greatly increased costs for new ships, and ever better and more efficient trains and trucks. They ceased services north from Sydney in 1954 and to the south in 1956, thereby ending one of Australia's oldest maritime traditions.
A similar service to those on the coasts north and south of Sydney existed between Adelaide and ports on South Australia's Spencer Gulf, of which Port Lincoln became the most important. Once again, there were no railways to take the traffic, nor would one ever be built, since the land route was far longer than that by sea. From 1882 this service was in the hands of the Adelaide Steamship Company. Its last ship in the trade, the passenger-cargo MV Minnipa, left Port Lincoln for the last time in 1960. A new roll-on, roll-off vessel, MV Troubridge, maintained a freight service to Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island until 1970, when the Port Lincoln service was abandoned: the Troubridge was sold to the South Australian government two years later, ending 90 years of coastal shipping services by the Adelaide Steamship Company, which was diversifying into practically ever industry except shipping.15
The coastal rivers of New South Wales, and to a lesser extent Queensland, also had local services in their saltwater stretches. There were both passenger steamers, which also carried light freight and cream, as well as goods steamers, mostly small flat-bottom craft called droghers. Some of these passenger services were of quite a high quality, those on the Clarence River, for instance, featuring large and comfortable steamers with similar amenities to the larger Sydney ferries. This was the largest and straightest of the coastal rivers, so was ideally suited to such operations, which were competitive with buses and lorries in the days before sealed roads became widespread.16 The Mary River in Queensland also had similar operations. In addition, from the Clarence north coastal rivers were used for the haulage of cut sugar cane from riverside farms to mills. These services mostly began in the 1860s and lasted until the 1940s.
During the 1850s and 1860s a host of shipping companies was established, creating a network of regular steam liner services connecting all the Australian colonies and Pacific ports. The major companies were the Adelaide Steamship Company (founded 1875); the Melbourne Steamship Company (founded 1884 and growing from a concern initially operating vessels on the Port Phillip Bay excursion traffic); Huddart, Parker Limited (founded in 1876 and also having its origins in the Port Phillip traffic, especially between Melbourne and Geelong); Howard Smith and Company (another Melbourne company founded in 1854); the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company (formed in Brisbane in 1886 by a merger of the Queensland Steam Shipping Company and the Australasian Steam Navigation Company); McIlwraith, McEacharn Limited (founded in London in 1875 but not active in passenger shipping on the Australian coast until 1909); and the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand (founded in 1875 and very active in Australian interstate shipping following its purchase of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company in 1891). Huddart, Parker Limited and the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand established a jointly owned company in 1921, called Tasmanian Steamers Limited, specifically to operate services to Tasmania. Interestingly enough, not one of the major interstate shipping companies had its headquarters in Sydney, although several had workshops there.17
During the second half of the nineteenth century steamship technology was constantly improving, as boilers became more efficient and engines more complex. The big steps forward were in compounding, with the development of first the double; and then the triple expansion engine, which used the steam from the boiler three times at three different pressures. Then at the very beginning of the twentieth century the first turbine steamers were introduced into Australian waters, lifting speed and efficiency another notch. As engines became more efficient, the auxiliary steamer became the pure steamer. After the 1870s few new steamers bothered to carry sail. The screw steamer quickly replaced the paddle steamer. Interestingly enough, Australia's first screw steamer was built in 1851 in Melbourne, which was then not yet the major port it would soon become. Named the SS City of Melbourne, she was soon sold to the Brisbane-based Australian Steam Navigation Company and so became the first screw steamer on both the Yarra and Brisbane Rivers.18
The great era of the Australian interstate coastal liner was the first three decades of the twentieth century. By then such ships were large and comfortable. Thanks to the steam turbine, they were also quite fast. Turbines were first used in Australia on the Union Steam Ship Company's Dumbarton-built Loongana of 1904, which operated on the Bass Strait service at speeds of up to 20 knots. The Union Company also ordered the second turbine liner, the beautiful and speedy 5,282-ton Maheno of 1905, whose wreck still lies on Fraser Island in Queensland. Probably the finest of the coastal liners was Messrs McIlwraith, McEacharn's Belfast-built 9,424-ton TrSS Katoomba of 1913, which lasted on the Sydney-Fremantle run until 1941. Such liners could compete effectively with railways on speed and comfort, although the Post Office preferred to give the lucrative mail contracts to a railway wherever there was one operating. Thus, despite the Australian United Steam Navigation Company's heavy investment in the TrSS Bingera of 1906, for the Brisbane to Townsville express service, the company lost the mail contract when the railway opened between those cities in 1923.19
The peak of the coastal shipping industry was in 1913 and 1914, when vessels with a total capacity of over 20,000 passengers made regular sailings around the Australian coast. In 1913 no fewer than five new passenger liners were delivered. The ships could offer comfortable services, which were competitive with rail in speed and far more comfortable, provided the weather was good. Journey times between Melbourne and Sydney or Brisbane and Sydney were typically around 36 hours, or two nights and a day. By comparison, it took about 30 hours from Sydney to Brisbane by train at the time on the inland route via Wallangarra, and passengers had to change trains at dawn and travel in unheated carriages over Australia's highest railway summit, where winter night-time temperatures were generally well below freezing. The ship - with its hot water baths, fine restaurants with orchestras and spacious cabins in first class - was an excellent option compared with the train, and generally cheaper as well. Most ships ran a regular run from Brisbane to Fremantle, stopping at all the mainland capitals on the way. With so many vessels in the trade, there was a sailing most days.
While the ships were more comfortable than the trains, they were not as safe, especially in tropical waters. The north Queensland run was especially hazardous, where there was the combination of frequent cyclones, which often reduced visibility to zero, and poorly charted reefs. In 1911 and 1912 the Adelaide Steamship Company lost two large liners (the SS Yongala and SS Koombana), together with their entire crews, mail, and complements of passengers without trace in cyclones in northern waters.20 The southern runs were far safer, and it was here that most ships were concentrated. Even in temperate waters, though, there were hazards, especially at the Rip at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. Moreover, before the days of radio and radar, collisions could happen at any time, as for example when the North Coast Steam Navigation Company's little SS Helen Nicoll ran down the far larger Brisbane-bound passenger liner SS Keilawarra off Coffs Harbour in 1886 with the loss of 46 lives.
Interstate coastal shipping never regained its high point in 1914 after the First World War, and, much like the New South Wales coastal services, the trade was mortally wounded by its ship losses and cessation of regular services during World War II. Some passenger ships limped on through the 1950s, basically linking Sydney and Fremantle. By then, however, not only had transcontinental rail transport improved dramatically in both speed and comfort with dieselisation and air-conditioning, but air services had become much safer and cheaper as well. The last two interstate liners in service were McIlwraith, McEacharn's MV Kanimbla and the Adelaide Steamship Company's 10,000-ton MV Manoora, both of which ceased their regular runs from Sydney to Fremantle in 1961. Both were truly luxurious 1930s liners with art deco details and every facility for passengers. Both had served as troop transports during World War II, and both were sold abroad in 1961, Manoora to China and Kanimbla to Indonesia.
Trans-Tasman passenger shipping operated as an extension of the Australian interstate services, most intensively between Sydney and Wellington, but also connecting other Australian and New Zealand ports. Most of the Australian coastal shipping companies were involved in the trans-Tasman trade at some stage, although the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand the Huddart Parker Limited were the most active. The last vessel on the run was Huddart Parker's 1932-built 9,576-ton MV Wanganella. She last berthed in Sydney on arrival from Wellington on 25 July 1962, ending the era of company-owned Australian passenger shipping.21
Thus, by the 1960s, only government-subsidised services continued, notably the Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission's run from Fremantle to Darwin via Kimberley ports, the Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island services in South Australia, and the Bass Strait services linking Tasmania with the mainland. The Western Australian service dated from 1912 and had been an Australian pioneer of diesel ships with the MV Kangaroo of 1915. This was only the second diesel motor ship ever built in the United Kingdom. The Commission was a state enterprise established by a Labour government, and filled much the same role as the railways in a part of the country where railway construction could not be justified. Its ships had to cope with the extreme tide variations of the northwest, and often sat high and dry while moored at jetties at low tide. During the 1930s, the Commission briefly operated a service connecting Fremantle and the northwest of Western Australia with Dutch East Indies ports and Singapore. However, improved roads and air services put the line out of business in the early 1970s. The second MV Kangaroo, built in Brisbane as late as 1962, was the last passenger-cargo vessel on the run, and indeed the last such vessel on coastal service in Australia. Her last voyage was in 1973, leaving only the Bass Strait services carrying interstate Australian passengers on regularly scheduled services.22
It was on the Melbourne to Tasmania run that the last stage in shipping innovation in the period covered by this work occurred, with the introduction of Australia's first roll-on roll-off car and truck carrying passenger ship, the TSMV Princess of Tasmania of 1959. This vessel was one of the first roll-on roll-off ships in the world built for crossing open ocean with the rough conditions prevalent in Bass Strait. She operated between Melbourne and Devonport. Her design was replicated on a larger scale with the TSMV Empress of Australia, built for a short-lived service from Sydney to Hobart. These vessels, like the little Troubridge serving Kangaroo Island, were basically carriers of cars and trucks and their drivers. Their design and continued service was clear evidence that, by the 1960s, passenger shipping could only survive in Australia where there were no roads or railways to carry the traffic.
Two of Australia's first three ports, Sydney and Hobart, had such good natural harbours that they needed very little in the way of harbour works until vessels became much larger in the early twentieth century. The same was not true of the third, Newcastle, which was at the mouth of the Hunter River. The New South Wales coastal rivers north of Sydney have 'some of the worst bar entrances in the world'.23 Most of them are a mass of changing channels in shoal-filled bays. A chart made one month might not be accurate the next, and channels changed regularly, especially after freshets. The Hunter, fortunately, was the most benign of these rivers, although it too had a bar and its entrance was complicated by a steep rocky island called Nobby's. Australia's first harbour works began at Newcastle in 1813, including construction of Macquarie Pier and a breakwater to link Nobby's to the mainland, thus protecting the pier and fixing the channel. The breakwater, despite convict labour and the growing commercial importance of Newcastle both as a coal port and for produce shipped from further upstream, was not completed until 1846.24 About the same distance south of Sydney, landowners Hamilton Hume and Alexander Berry had assigned convicts dig a new entrance to the (all too accurately named) Shoalhaven River in 1822. This was a short canal some 200 metres long across the beach and was a very rare example of private investment (albeit with free labour provided by the government) in a navigational improvment.
The dominant figures in building harbour works in nineteenth-century Australia were E. O. Moriarty and Sir John Coode. Moriarty spent his entire career with the New South Wales Public Works Department in Sydney. The shape of Sydney and Newcastle's waterfronts is largely his work. Moreover, he began the process of scientifically improving the navigability of the many rivers on the New South Wales north coast whose entrances were blocked or hampered by sand bars. Of these rivers, the Clarence and Richmond Rivers were the most important, although there was a sizeable trade on the Manning and Macleay Rivers as well, and even the smaller rivers were served by tiny ocean-going steamers manned by extremely plucky, if not downright foolhardy crews.25 The history of navigation on these river entrances is littered with an extraordinarily large number of shipwrecks. Most (but not all) of these involved relatively little loss of life, since they were so near shore and occurred when everyone on board was cognisant of the risks of crossing the bar, hoping for the best but always ready for the worst.
Coode was an English hydraulic engineer who travelled extensively in Australia as a consultant in the 1880s. He was widely considered the world's finest such engineer at the time, and many of his works remain in use today. These include the breakwater to Granite Island and its associated jetty at Victor Harbor in South Australia; the far grander Coode Canal and Victoria Dock at Melbourne; Fremantle's breakwaters and docks; and, most challenging of all, his enormously elaborate works to improve the navigability of the mouth of the Clarence River in northern New South Wales.26 This last project began in 1893, based on Coode's plans of 1887, and construction only finished in 1973. It was particularly interesting, because Coode decided to overrule Moriarty's original plans for improving the navigation of this most important of all New South Wales north coast rivers. Back in the 1870s, Moriarty had attempted to fix the channel in the shifting sands of Shoal Bay to the south shore, but Coode developed a plan fixing the channel on the northern bank. This involved partially demolishing a breakwater already completed at Moriarty's behest. Part of this remains to this day, and the Clarence harbour works are an especially interesting testimony in stone to the conflicting ideas of two important and influential hydraulic engineers.
Apart from the New South Wales coastal rivers, most Australian harbours have been either in natural harbours or open roads, where long jetties have been built on piles of turpentine timber out beyond the surf to take goods out to ships waiting moored beside them in the open sea. Jetties such as this have been built all over the country. Three of the most famous of the very many jetties of this kind were at Broome and Carnarvon in Western Australia and at Byron Bay in New South Wales. At both Carnarvon and Broome there were lengthy tramways built into the town from the jetties. Byron Bay's two jetties were the most easterly in Australia, and the first of these jetties was also the scene of one of the most dramatic and public, if least fatal, shipwrecks in Australian maritime history. This was when the crack liner of the North Coast Steam Navigation Company, the magnificent 2,005-ton TSS Wollongbar, was blown onto the beach while attempting to escape from the open port when an easterly gale blew up in 1921.27 It was a very public wreck, because most of the town turned out to look at it happening, and was so famous that the NSWGR ran special trains of sightseers from all over the district to look at the fun of the vain attempts at her salvage. Her wreck remains on the beach to the present.
Broome was famous for the extremely wide variation in tides, requiring an exceptionally high jetty to cope with the close to ten-metre variation between high and low water. During the early twentieth century up to 300 pearling luggers operated out of Broome, with extremely cosmopolitan crews, including many Japanese, a lot of Malays and a sprinkling of islanders. At that time Broome was producing a third of all the natural pearls harvested in the world.28 There were many jetties built out into the waters of the Indian Ocean along the Western Australian coast, mostly in the 1890s, and many of these survive. Notable examples include those at Carnarvon, Bunbury and Busselton. In the southwest and at Geraldton, these were connected to the railway system, and were used for the export of locally produced commodities, largely timber in the southwest, and minerals and wheat elsewhere. By contrast, Carnarvon served a remote northwestern pastoral community without any railways at all, although a tramway was laid along the jetty and connected it with the town.
One of the riskiest and most picturesque wharves in eastern Australia was, and still is, at Tathra on the New South Wales south coast. This is not a jetty, but just a short wharf. Nonetheless, it is in the open sea, protected only by being on the lee side of the headland. The earliest part of the wharf was built in 1862, and the most recent in 1919. Commercial shipping last used the wharf in 1956, yet it remains intact, the last large sea wharf in Australia.29 Port Elliot's wharf in South Australia is similar, but smaller and on a far more protected coast.
The most important natural harbour, where there has not been any great need for works apart from occasional dredging and wharf construction, is of course Port Jackson at Sydney. Hobart is essentially similar, located like Sydney on a flooded river valley and so enabling the largest ships to come right into the city. Naturally enough, the history of Sydney's wharves is the longest and most complex of any Australian port. Sydney's initial port facilities were concentrated around Circular Quay and remained there until the boom years of the 1880s. Thereafter, more and more of the harbour foreshores were used for shipping purposes. Most development was around Darling Harbour, which had direct rail access from as early as 1855. Circular Quay never had rail access, and increasingly became the berth for passenger liners, as cargo and mixed traffic vessels moved to the less picturesque but better served facilities of Darling Harbour. However, wool continued to be loaded from wool stores around Circular Quay, and even new ones in Walsh Bay, well into the twentieth century. The wool stores at Circular Quay have all been demolished to make way for office development, but those at Hobart survive. Hobart's Salamanca Place in many ways recreates the appearance of East Circular Quay as it was from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Both were centres of wool export, and neither had rail access. Both had (and still have) masonry seawalls to which, thanks to the steeply plunging shore profiles, large vessels can moor.
Essential elements in nineteenth century Australian ports were customs houses and quarantine stations. These could range from very modest to extremely imposing structures. Sydney's customs house at Circular Quay, even though it was a free trade port, was and remains one of the city's dominant and defining buildings. Similarly, Sydney had the continent's largest quarantine station, established on North Head near Manly as early as 1832. This remained in use until 1977.
The great development of the late nineteenth century was the finger wharves resting on timber piles. No other port in the world had such a quantity of timber finger wharves as Sydney, nor wharves that required timber piles as deep. Piles of 140 and even 160 feet, cut from one tree, were commonplace on Sydney wharves. The first twenty years of the twentieth century saw the construction of the most notable wharves, many of which remain to this day. These include the timber finger wharves at Walsh Bay (the last such surviving complex in the world built by the Sydney Harbour Trust in 1918); the enormous timber finger wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay (completed in 1916 and the longest timber building ever erected in the world); and the concrete wharves with railway sidings laid to shipside and complementary victualling store at Jones Bay, Pyrmont. The move into bulk grain shipping began during World War I, and in 1922 Australia's first and largest bulk silo complex was opened at Glebe Island as a joint NSWGR, Department of Agriculture and Sydney Harbour Trust project. The silos and concrete wharves with railways laid in them built in Sydney around 1920 anticipated many similar structures built in ports large and small around Australia, from Geelong to Townsville and from Geraldton to Burnie. The first, biggest and most spectacular examples of such facilities, though, were always in Sydney.
Queensland ports have not demanded anything like the investment in breakwaters and harbour works required in New South Wales, because most of the coast is sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef. Even south of the reef, the Queensland coast enjoys the protection of a series of large sand islands from South Stradbroke Island to Fraser Island. These have meant that most Queensland ports merely required jetties to be built into the sea to a depth sufficient for the shipping using the port. Brisbane was particularly favoured with a broad and deep river debouching into the relatively sheltered waters of Moreton Bay. Brisbane has been able to rely on wharves in the river, many built right in the city, although mostly now demolished to make way for the egregious folly of the Southeastern Freeway, which effectively has cut the once beautiful city of Brisbane off from its waterfront. Brisbane shippers and wool merchants were able to build wharves, wool stores and warehouses very easily and cheaply along much of the river, especially its north bank downstream from the city in such romantically named localities as Teneriffe and New Farm. After the 1880s these were served by rail. There were even coal loaders from the 1890s to the 1960s as close to the city as Woolloongabba on the south bank of the River.
Melbourne and Geelong too, have had the advantages of the protection of Port Philip Bay. Melbourne's early port at South Melbourne was simply a pier jutting out into the Bay, gradually expanded to carry the tracks of Australia's first steam railway from 1854. Station Pier, as it became known, still exists, although is much rebuilt and modified, and is now the Melbourne terminus of the daily ferries crossing Bass Strait to Devonport. As such, it is one of the most historic jetties in Australia. For more than a century it was the major terminal for overseas passenger liners in Melbourne, and so was the point through which most migrants arrived in the city, in both its two major waves of immigration, between 1851 and 1890 and between 1947 and 1970. Melbourne, though, was a sufficiently important port to justify the investment in extensive facilities at the mouth of the Yarra during the boom years of the 1880s, including the Victoria Dock and Coode Canal.
Adelaide, had a similar advantage to Melbourne, located on the smooth waters of the Gulf, and had jetties at places like Semaphore (the main landing point for vessels from England from the time of its construction in 1860), Glenelg and Largs which, like Station Pier in Melbourne, simply ran straight out into the open sea. The initial wharf dating from 1840 was at Port Adelaide, but early in the twentieth century a more complex network of wharves and connecting railways was built at Outer Harbour, opening in 1908. Fremantle has required progressive construction of breakwaters and dredging to fix the channel into the mouth of the Swan River, but these have not been of anything like the complexity of those on the Clarence River, or indeed a number of other New South Wales north coast streams. It is for that reason, of course, that Fremantle has been able to thrive as a port while the Clarence has been a rather marginal (if very expensive) proposition. As we have seen, it was the commanding figure of Sir John Coode who prepared the plans for Fremantle just as he did for Melbourne's Victoria Dock and for the Clarence.30
While Australia's first three ports of Sydney, Newcastle and Hobart have the bulk of the country's interesting and historic structures, the variety of Australian ports and the infrastructure associated with them is enormous. Every Australian port has unique and interesting features, and every Australian capital (except Canberra) exists because it began life as a natural port. While the Australian economy since the 1830s has been dominated by the pastoral and mining industries, both land based, their products have had to be shipped to markets. This has meant that ports and shipping have been a crucial part of Australian economic and social history. Ports have also been where much of Australia's industrial history has been played out, for unionism has been strong on the waterfront, both in stevedoring and shipbuilding and repairing, since the 1890s.
Closely associated with ports were (and are) the navigational aids provided to assist ships to reach their destinations in safety. Visibility around Australia's coasts is mostly good by world standards, although it is far from uniformly so. By contrast, the seas off Australia's coasts are very rough indeed by any standards, often with truly enormous swells. Throughout the nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth century, lighthouses were the main way in which navigators were assisted to find their way at night. Australia's first lighthouse, the Macquarie Light, was designed by convict architect Francis Greenway and built a little south of Sydney's Harbour's South Head between 1816 and 1818. Its location could and did confuse mariners unfamiliar with the entrance, most famously with the loss of the ship Dunbar with almost all aboard in 1854. In wild stormy conditions with poor visibility, her master erroneously and fatally thought the light marked South Head, and so sailed her straight onto the rocks between the light and the Heads. The light was not right at the Heads for the very good reason that the ground was far higher where it was built, but the tragedy demonstrated hazards of such compromises.
Lighthouses were built all over the Australian coastline during the nineteenth century. The first outside Sydney and Newcastle was on the Derwent River near Hobart as early as 1833, and in the 1840s a series of lighthouses was built to mark the extremities of Bass Strait. During the 1850s lighthouses were erected on the Victorian and South Australian coasts, and eventually they identified most harbours and hazards to navigation. There was also some use of lightships to mark reefs in north Queensland. Far cheaper (but not of much use at night until the late twentieth century) were buoys moored over hazardous reefs and to mark channels in estuaries, harbours and rivers. The exact responsibility for these structures varied from colony to colony and has changed over the years. Large ports often have had a semi-commercial character to their administration and infrastructure development (and sometimes some private investment, although government investment has always dominated), whereas navigational safety has been a matter of public service.
As well as commercial wharves, Australia's major ports - and some very minor ones too - also developed ship-building and repair facilities. The minor ship-building ports, located all over the country, but especially in New South Wales with its rich timber resources, built small and medium-sized timber vessels for various owners right up until the 1940s when the last such business, at Tuncurry on the New South Wales lower north coast, went out of business. A small place like Huskisson on Jervis Bay even built ferries for Sydney Harbour in the first decades of the twentieth century. World War II, in fact, saw a brief revival of timber ship construction, since there were so many Japanese mines and torpedoes about, to which timber was relatively immune unless there was a direct hit.
The big ship building and repair businesses, though, were of course in the big ports such as Melbourne, Hobart, Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle and, above all, Sydney. Australia had never been a builder of very large or sophisticated vessels, except for the navy and then almost entirely for political reasons. Large shipowners nearly always turned to Scottish or Ulster yards for their best vessels in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nonetheless, Australia's ports were the homes to a considerable shipbuilding industry. The primacy of Sydney in this industry was uncontested. Even the bulk of the pearling luggers for service in far-away Broome and Thursday Island were built on the shores of Berry's Bay and Lavender Bay in North Sydney, although some were also built in Fremantle (where there were also good timber supplies nearby) and even on Thursday Island itself.31 The reasons for Sydney's primacy are easy to explain. It was the first port, with easily the best natural harbour, so developed the industry first and always had superior facilities as a result. Second, some of the world's finest shipbuilding timbers grew nearby.
During the first fifty years of the nineteenth century, nearly all Australian ships were built of timber, most of them in small yards in Sydney and Hobart, and repairs were carried out by careening vessels. After iron vessels, especially auxiliary steamers, became more common from the 1840s, these rudimentary practices were inadequate. The first iron foundry in Australia was opened in Sydney in 1821 (on the corner of George and Market Streets!) and by 1831 another foundry was able to undertake work as significant as rebuilding the steam engine of the William the Fourth.
By the 1840s there was a number of marine engineering works in Sydney, each capable of maintaining large early marine steam engines. The largest and most important was P. N. Russell's at the foot of Bathurst Street, and one of his main rivals, confusingly, was John Russell in Pyrmont, who completed a steamship with a locally made engine as early as 1838. In 1855 Australia's first dry dock, Mort's Dock at Balmain, was opened; followed in 1857 by the government-owned Fitzroy Dock on Cockatoo Island, initally intended for naval use. Both these were in Sydney, and by 1870 there were dry docks in most of Australia's major ports. Brisbane's Government Dock at South Brisbane opened in 1881.32 Dry docks were essential to repair iron vessels and their machinery, especially steamers' screws. Fitzroy Dock is still intact, and so is Mort's Dock, although it is now filled in and the former shipyard is a public park, with the stone capping of this most historic dock marking out where it lies beneath the lawn.
By 1913 Mort's Dock had built 41 vessels, of which the largest was the 499-ton Manly ferry SS Barrenjoey, later renamed and dieselised as MV North Head. Mort's Dock built a second dock at Woolwich, on the northern side of Sydney Harbour a little upstream from Balmain, in the halcyon days of coastal shipping around 1900. This was the largest (and last) private graving dock built in Australia. The major Australian steamship companies maintained their own engineering works, to avoid the cost of repairing their vessels by outside contractors like Mort's Dock. The Australian Steam Navigation Company, for instance, had its engineering works at Pyrmont in Sydney, while the Adelaide Steamship Company maintained its vessels in its home port. None of these companies built their own vessels, indeed most ordered their coastal steamers from Britain, but the larger companies certainly preferred to undertake their own repairs if circumstances permitted it. The short-lived Melbourne Steam Shipping Company's workshop survived longer than its owners, becoming the Hobson's Bay Dock and Engineering Company. The Queensland Steam Shipping Company also had its own works on the Brisbane River, which later became the main works of the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company.
The most surprisingly located shipbuilder in Australia perhaps was Walkers Limited, who set up their dockyard some 20 miles (33km) upstream on the Mary River near Maryborough, Queensland as early as 1868. It built 13 vessels in the 1870s and 1880s, before ceasing shipbuilding until a revival brought on by the decision of the Hughes Government to establish the Commonwealth Line in 1917. By 1923 Walker's had completed two of the four 6,600-ton ships, far larger than anything they had built before or since. The government was less than impressed by the slow progress on the order, which really was a case of the builders having bitten off more than they could chew. Shipbuilding continued on the Mary, although Walker's were always busier as general engineers, notably making a lot of locomotives for both Queensland and Commonwealth Railways.33
Naval orders always played a large role in sustaining a heavy iron (and after World War I) steel shipbuilding industry in Australia. This was because Australian builders were never big enough to compete with the yards of Glasgow and Belfast in particular. During the early 1920s, for instance, the Royal Australian Navy ordered 22 steel ships from the six builders the government judged best able to produce large vessels in Australia. These were Cockatoo Island Works in Sydney; the New South Wales State Dockyard at Walsh Island in Newcastle; the Williamstown Dockyard in Melbourne; Poole and Steel in Adelaide; and Walkers Limited in Maryborough, Queensland. However, when the orders were complete, most had to close, or confine themselves to repairs. Only Cockatoo Island remained a significant builder, eventually building more than thirty ships between 1912 and its closure in 1990. There was also a brief revival of Williamstown's fortunes as a naval builder after World War II.
Easily the most important ship repair facility in Australia, like the major shipbuilding facility at Cockatoo Island, was a naval initiative. Unsurprisingly, it was also built in Sydney. Garden Island in Sydney had been home to the Royal Navy's Australia Station since 1857, when it was transferred to the new Royal Australian Navy in 1911. It was already a well-equipped naval dockyard by 1896, and was indeed the major Royal Navy base east of Trincomalee in Ceylon. At that time there was no base in Singapore, that particular facility being completed just in time to be captured by the Japanese in 1942. Anticipating war with Japan, and concerned about the ability to hold Singapore, the British and Australian governments decided in 1939 to build a dry dock at Garden Island capable of taking the largest ships afloat. Built between 1941 and 1945, the Captain Cook Dock, as it was known, was 1,000 feet long and 34 feet deep. Associated with it was an enormous lathe capable of machining the largest ships' screw shafts, and an enormous 250-ton crane. The whole project cost 10.5 million, or a little more than the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the only comparable engineering project in Australia to that date. Although intended primarily for naval use (the first vessel docked was HMS Illustrious in February 1945), it has also been used for repairs to many civilian vessels, and so is a crucial part of commercial maritime enterprise in Australia.34
The war years also saw the construction of the Cairncross Dry Dock in Brisbane, which, although not on anything like the scale of the Captain Cook Dock, was still an impressive piece of engineering. At the same time, Brisbane began a new venture in shipbuilding, with the establishment of Evans Deakin at Kangaroo Point using redundant equipment and personnel from the construction of the Storey Bridge.35
Inland navigation in Australia followed rather than preceded settlement, an almost unique situation in the annals of colonisation. The reason was that the squatters who wrested the interior of the continent - more specifically the interior of New South Wales, western Victoria and southern Queensland - from its Aboriginal inhabitants came, above all, from Sydney. Later some squatters came from places such as Portland, Melbourne, Brisbane and other ports, but Sydney predominated. However, the rivers watering the interior flowed in the opposite direction, westwards, eventually flowing into the Murray, which itself debouched into Lake Alexandrina and thence over a treacherous bar into the Southern Ocean at Encounter Bay. Captain Charles Sturt resolved the early mystery of the westward-flowing rivers in 1829. However, since the mouth of the Murray was remote and not navigable for practical purposes, and in any case there was no settlement or port in the vicinity, his discoveries, despite their great geographical and scientific interest, were of no immediate practical or economic use.
That situation changed after the establishment of the Province of South Australia in 1836. Navigation of the Murray seemed to offer the new colony bright economic prospects. Its first governor, John Hindmarsh, was a sailor who knew all about the realities of maritime commerce so proposed even to move the capital from Adelaide to the mouth of the Murray, but lost this battle and was recalled. Nonetheless, the possibility of using the Murray as a highway into the pastoral interior continued to excite South Australian minds, so much so that in 1850 the government offered a prize of 2,000 each to the captains of the first two iron vessels to reach the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. These were rich pickings indeed for a plucky freshwater navigator, so soon the race was on.
River navigation began in February 1853, when a team of twenty bullocks hauled the twenty-ton wooden paddle steamer Mary Ann from the Mount Lofty Ranges where she was built, to the waters of the Murray near Mannum. This showed what animal transport could achieve, but the Mary Ann and other steamers following her could move far larger tonnages far more cheaply than animals, and at a tiny fraction of the investment needed for a railway. The Mary Ann's master, William Randell, was unable to collect the prize on his first voyages, and soon he had a rival in the hunt, when in August 1853 Captain Francis Cadell brought the PS Lady Augusta, a wooden paddle steamer built in Sydney, successfully but hazardously across the Murray bar. Cadell was astute enough to negotiate an amendment to the prize conditions, allowing timber vessels to claim the reward. In fact, all steamers on the river in the period of its intense commercial navigation proved to be timber-hulled. The two rivals steamed up the Murray through the spring fresh of 1853, reaching the Victorian towns of Swan Hill and Echuca. The government in Adelaide rewarded both for their efforts, and the era of commercial navigation of the Murray had begun.
Cadell established the River Murray Navigation Company, and soon the prosperous Adelaide entrepreneurs of the Elder family had set up the rival River Murray Company to operate fleets of steamers on the waterways. They were joined by independent owner-skippers in the competition for the trade, one of whom was Randell. A third major line, McCulloch and Company, was based in Echuca. Finally, in the twentieth century Permewan, Wright and Company came to dominate the river trade out of Echuca. Ultimately nearly 200 vessels were built for the trade, which thrived between the mid-1850s and the 1890s. The basic design of the Murray paddle wheeler was developed early with Cadell and Randell's first experiments and scarcely changed. Powered by a simple steam engine (there were no experiments with triple expansion or compounding here) supplied with steam from a wood-fired boiler, nearly all were side-wheelers. There were a few stern-wheelers - the favoured vessel on the Mississippi and its confluents - in the trade, but the sinuous nature of the Murray better suited the more flexible side-wheelers. For the same reason, Murray steamers hauled their barges behind them, each with its own wheel and rudder, rather than push them as was the case on other rivers which did not meander with quite the same perversity as the Murray and its tributaries.
The early vessels had timber hulls, but by the late nineteenth century iron, which was far tougher for the vessels that all too often bounced along the bottom, was the favoured material. Many timber vessels were built locally, especially in Echuca, although some were brought from other places. The first two river steamers were built in, improbably enough, Mount Lofty, and, rather more predictably, Sydney. Most of the iron vessels were built in Sydney and steamed around the coast in fair weather. About half of all iron vessels built in Sydney before 1914 were for the Murray and Darling Rivers, so vessels for the inland rivers made a significant contribution to Sydney's shipbuilding industry.36 Once again, this indicates Sydney's dominance of the shipbuilding industry in Australia, since it was far further from the mouth of the Murray than either Adelaide or Melbourne, neither of which was able to compete with Sydney as a source of boats for the trade.
Shipyards where river steamers were maintained were located at the major river ports. William Randell, for instance had a floating dry dock at his base at Mannum which remained in commercial service until 1927 and still exists. At Echuca there was a dry dock built into the bank, and at many river ports there were small engineering works and slipways capable of maintaining the hulls, boilers and engines of the steamers.
Between 1855 and 1859 the practical limits of the trade were established in a series of adventurous voyages, taking vessels up the Murray to Albury, the Murrumbidgee to Gundagai and, stupendously, up the Darling as far as Walgett, near the Queensland border. Walgett was no less than 1,650 miles (2,660km) upstream from where the Darling joins the Murray, so this was riverine transport on a long-distance scale indeed. Not that it much impressed one 1880s visitor, who described it as ' a mere collection of huts on a scorched and sandy plain.'37 The trade was dependent on water levels in the rivers, and these were highly variable. In flood seasons, navigation was possible even along the tributaries of the Darling into Queensland, and the flat-bottomed steamers would even head out across flooded plains with supplies and collect wool (at a price) from isolated flood-bound properties. In 1890 the PS Brewarrina became the first and only inland steamer to reach Mungindi in Queensland, and so become the only such vessel ever to navigate the rivers of all four colonies of southeastern Australia.38 By contrast, in drought most of the Darling and the Murrumbidgee Rivers were scarcely navigable at all, and even on the Murray navigation was only possible downstream from Echuca with absolute certainty. In most seasons, water was reliable for at least a few months of the year as far as Bourke on the Darling; Hay on the Murrumbidgee; and Albury on the Murray. This reliable water in spring was all that was really needed, since the most important traffic in these regions was wool outbound (which was shorn in spring, when waters were at their highest) and stores inbound.
Places like Bourke, Menindee and Wilcannia on the Darling; Balranald, Hay, Narrandera and Wagga Wagga on the Murrumbidgee; and Wentworth, Mildura, Swan Hill and Echuca on Murray, all became important inland ports. Even as far upstream as Wilcannia on the Darling there were port facilities such as a customs house and bond stores, and when the railway was opened from Sydney to Broken Hill through the town as late as 1926 it crossed the river on a lifting bridge to enable river navigation to continue. Sometimes the steamers even ventured up the Goulburn River in Victoria as far as Shepparton, only 100 miles from Melbourne. The river steamers were far more efficient than the teams they replaced for long distances, although most squatters still relied on the teams to link their runs with the nearest wharf. Steamers could also bring fodder for the teams, so the whole transport task became more efficient and regular, except when droughts were really severe, as they were in the late 1860s. Reliable navigation of the Murray also stimulated new industries, notably fruit growing, which began at Mildura (on the permanently navigable part of the steam in northwestern Victoria) as early as 1887.
South Australia soon addressed the problems with the mouth of the Murray by building a horse tramway from Goolwa, on Lake Alexandrina, to the blue waters of the Southern Ocean at Port Elliot. This was Australia's first public railway, as discussed in chapter 4, and meant that the Murray at last had a commercial mouth, even if it was one of iron rails rather than navigable water. Goolwa became for a time Australia's busiest riverine port, but its domination did not last long.
Nor indeed did South Australia's domination of the Murray River trade. For in 1864 the Victorian Railways reached Echuca, which suddenly became the entire basin's major entrepot. Echuca was only 155 miles (250km) from Melbourne, and could be reached in less than five hours on a fast train. The opening of the railway to Echuca changed the shape of the river trade dramatically. No longer did most of the steamers from the Darling and Murrumbidgee paddle down the Murray to South Australia; but instead turned upstream for Echuca. Echuca became Victoria's second-busiest port in terms of the number of vessels cleared, although Geelong handled heavier tonnages. Victoria built an enormous wharf at Echuca, which kept expanding with the trade until it was nearly a kilometre long, on which were laid railway tracks connecting directly with the salt-water wharves in Melbourne. Goolwa and its tramway went into decline as they lost the upper Murray and Murrumbidgee trade to Echuca. In 1878 the railway from Adelaide at last reached the Murray at Morgan, which thereafter became the preferred point of transhipment for such river traffic as flowed into South Australia. Morgan was able to compete effectively with Echuca for the Darling and lower Murray trade, and a large wharf (which still exists and was the largest on the South Australian section of the river) was built there.
The real challenge to the supremacy of the rivers as a means of transport in inland New South Wales, however, came from the New South Wales railways, which in the 1880s at last reached the navigable waters of the inland rivers, first at Wagga Wagga, and later at Albury, Narrandera and Hay. Finally in 1887 the rails reached Bourke. The transfer of traffic to the railways was not immediate. Rail freight was more expensive than river freight, although on the railways there was little insurance to pay whereas insurance premiums were high on the riskier river steamers, which were forever catching fire or being marooned by dry weather. However, river steamers continued to take goods beyond the railheads. So rail connection in some ways was actually good business for the steamers, which, for instance, after 1887 began taking all sorts of traffic in both directions to and from Bourke. The NSWGR offered discounts for long-distance traffic, which certainly encouraged shippers in inland New South Wales to send their goods to Sydney by rail rather than anywhere else, but often steamers were still required to get these goods to the railheads.
River traffic continued to be fairly buoyant into the twentieth century. However, after 1900 more branch railways were built into the Riverina, and roads were always improving, enabling first horse teams and then motor lorries to oust the slow and ponderous bullocks. Lorries would soon oust the paddle steamers as well. The unreliability of the Murray's flow was the main burden under which the steamer had to labour. This was even more true of the Darling, although the Murrumbidgee was more reliable in the spring when the snows melted on the Australian Alps to feed it. Happily for the river steamers, spring was also when the sheep were shorn so was the time when the most lucrative trade was possible. The colonies found it impossible to work out a scheme for improving the Murray's navigability, even though an intercolonial conference resolved to do so as early as 1863.
The problem was that improvements to river navigation, while they might improve transport for New South Wales pastoralists, would almost certainly damage the revenues of the New South Wales Railways. It was not until 1917, well after Federation, that the states signed the Murray River Waters Agreement and established the Murray River Commission. The Commission began works on a system of weirs and locks whose aim was to create a channel with a reliable depth of six feet all year from Morgan to Mildura. This would avoid the need to haul steamers over sandbanks and mudflats by winch when waters were low. During the 1920s and 1930s the Murray River Commission worked hard on this project, however it was all too late. Indeed, at this time most river traffic on the South Australian section of the river by then was gravel crushed to build the weirs and locks. The Murray River Commission used a huge sternwheeler, the PS Captain Sturt, to push its gravel barges from quarry to worksites, and private vessels also contracted for the job.39
These works on the Murray tended to make it more resemble the canals of Europe and North America, however, it is important to note that there have never been any canals built for inland shipping in Australia. There are two reasons for this. First, Australia was opened up for modern exploitation and settlement after the invention of the railway, so railways could fulfil the function of early canals in elsewhere more economically. Second, canals required large supplies of water, especially if locks were involved, since very opening of a lock incurs the loss of huge quantities of water. Australia is generally deficient in water supplies, and those parts of the country which are well watered (the rainforests of the eastern littoral and Tasmania) are those least suited to canal construction.
Even the locks and weirs on the Murray were completed too late to maintain the river trade's dominance. Moreover, they had been built as much with a view to enabling the use of the river's waters for irrigation as to assist the steamers. In this they succeeded admirably, although at an environmental cost in terms of wetlands degradation, but the era of long-distance transport of wool from New South Wales stations to Morgan or Echuca was well and truly over. Nonetheless, some commercial traffic on the river continued into World War II, especially around Echuca, where steamer-based gangs would cut timber on the banks and then rail it from Echuca to Melbourne. By the late 1940s there were hardly any boats left in the trade. Flooding in 1956 suddenly saw a brief and final revival of a trade dead for nearly forty years, when the PS Success collected loads of wool from sheep stations along the Darling cut off by floodwaters. However, the few steamers left soon found carrying passengers as tourists paid better than any freight offering. With this new traffic the river trade has survived - and indeed is now thriving - mostly still using paddle steamers built during its halcyon days of a century and more ago. Moreover, just as was the case back in the 1860s, the great rivals for the modern tourist traffic on the Murray remain Goolwa and Echuca.40
A Note on Shipping Terminology
Ships' names are preceded by an acrostic indicating their means of propulsion. These are:
MV Motor Vessel
PS Paddlewheel Steamer
SS Screw Steamer (having one screw propeller, not 'Steam Ship')
TSS Twin Screw Steamer
TrSS Triple Screw Steamer
Also widely used (although little in Australia) was:
RMS Royal Mail Ship
1 John Bach, A Maritime History of Australia, Melbourne, Pan Books, 1982, p. 70.
2 ADB, vol 2, pp 546-547.
3 Malcolm J. Kennedy, Hauling the Loads: A History of Australia's Working Horses and Bullocks, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1992, pp49-50.
4 Bach, A Maritime History of Australia, p 72.
5 Geoffrey Blainey, The Tyranny of Distance, Melbourne, Sun Books, 1983, p 114.
6 Bach, A Maritime History of Australia, pp 79-80.
7 On the clipper ships, see Basil Lubbock, The Colonial Clipper, Glasgow, Brown, Son & Ferguson, 1968.
8 Graeme Davison, The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1978, p 21.
9 On the voyages of the Royal Charter, see Blainey, The Tyranny of Distance, p 210. On the Chusan, see Malcolm R Gordon, From Chusan to Sea Princess: the Australian services of the P&O and Orient Lines, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1985, p 22.
10 On the services to Panama see Will Lawson, Pacific Steamers, Glasgow, Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1927.
11 For a general history of shipping companies on the England-Australia run, see T. K. Fitchett, The Long Haul: Ships on the England-Australia Run, Adelaide, Rigby, 1980.
12 On the services of P&O and the Orient SN Co, see Gordon, From Chusan to Sea Princess.
13 Stuart Lee, Riverboats of the Clarence, Yamba NSW, Port of Yamba Historical Society, 2003, p 258.
14 ADB, vol 1, pp 140-142. See also Tom Mead, Empire of Straw: the dynamic rise and disastrous fall of dashing colonial tycoon Benjamin Boyd, Sydney Dolphin Books, c2000.
15 T. K. Fitchett, The Vanished Fleet: Australia's Coastal Passenger Ships 1910-1960, Adelaide, Rigby, 1976, pp 19-21.
16 See Lee, Riverboats of the Clarence for a history of the remarkably dense services on the Clarence River.
17 Fitchett, The Vanished Fleet, pp 7-9.
18 Mike Richards, Workhorses in Australian Waters: a history of marine engineering in Australia, Wahroonga, Turton and Armstrong, 1987, p 37.
19 Ibid, pp 133-137.
20 Fitchett, The Vanished Fleet, pp 16-17, 23.
21 Ibid, pp 72-73.
22 Ibid, pp 103-107.
23 Bach, A Maritime History of Australia, p 18.
24 Mary Shelley Clark, Ships and Shores and Trading Ports: the social and working life of coastal harbour and river towns in New South Wales, Sydney, Waterways Authority of New South Wales, 2001, p 93.
25 See Mike Richards, North Coast Run: men and ships of the NSW North Coast, Wahroonga, Turton and Armstrong, 1977 for the history of the lines serving these difficult ports.
26 On Granite Island, see E. E. Morris (ed), Cassell's Picturesque Australasia, London, Cassell, 1889, p 382. On the Clarence, see Clark, Ships and Shores and Trading Ports, pp 33-34.
27 Richards, North Coast Run, p 98.
28 Graeme Andrews, Australia's Maritime Heritage, Sydney, Cromarty Press, 1984, p 82.
29 Ibid., p 19.
30 Morris, Cassell's Picturesque Australasia, p 861.
31 Vaughan Evans, 'Ship Building and Repair' in Don Fraser (ed), Sydney from Settlement to City, an engineering history of Sydney, Sydney, Institution of Engineers Australia, 1989, pp 126-127.
32 Richards, Workhorses in Australian Waters, pp 107-110.
33 Richards, Workhorses in Australian Waters, pp 128-131.
34 Evans, 'Ship Building and Repair', pp 130-145.
35 Richards, Workhorses in Australian Water, pp129-130.
36 Ibid., p 128.
37 Morris, Cassell's Picturesque Australasia, p 377.
38 David Wardle, Murray Rover Paddle Steamers, Canberra, Traction Publications, 1970, p 6.
39 Lyn Griffiths and Bill Jeffrey, River Boat Trail South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia Department of Environment and Natural Resources, nd [c 2000], pp 20, 25, 30.
40 On the river trade, see Gwenda Painter, A Different River: river trade and development along the Murray Valley network, South Melbourne, Hyland House, 1983; Peter Christopher, Paddlesteamers and River Boats of the Murray, Stepney, South Australia, Axiom, 2000; and Morris, Cassell's Picturesque Australasia,, pp 364-84.