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Ship's engineer Martin MacGilivray, back left, with a group of men and two Islander women

Date: c 1915 - 1925
Overall: 102 x 82 mm
Medium: Silver gelatin print on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Donald McLean
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00026442

User Terms

    A collection of paintings, a book, photographs, and a cartoon mostly relating to Burns Philp in the first half of the 20th century.
    HistoryMartin MacGilivray started his career with Burns Philp Co. as third engineer on the TITUS in 1902, promoted to second engineer on the GUTHRIE in 1905 and to Chief Engineer of the INDUNA in 1907. He resigned as Chief Engineer of the MATARAM in 1915 to take up a shore position. He served with the Australian Commonwealth Line from 1917 to 1928. He then went back to Burns Philp & Co. and was Chief Engineer of the MAIWARA when in died in 1938 or early 1939 in Rabaul.

    Burns Philp represents an important and unique chapter in Australian shipping history. Originating in a trading company in Townsville, Queensland, in the 1870s, Burns Philp developed its own shipping line and trading empire throughout northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. By the 1920s it was a household name. It operated a fleet of large main-line ships in conjunction with a fleet of smaller inter-island ships. Its main-line ships ran regularly as far afield as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Burns Philp passenger liners were well known with their black and white checquered funnels and the Burns Philp thistle on the house flag. Many Burns Philp captains were legendary colourful figures, and the company's name conjured up the romance of the South Seas.

    During World War II both ships and personnel were taken into war service, and the company's specialised knowledge was put to use by Allied commanders. The company's flagship, its then new liner BULOLO, in particular had a distinguished war record, when it was requisitioned into the British Royal Navy and served in in both hemispheres. One of the company's liners, the NEPTUNA, was destroyed in the Japanese raid on Darwin in 1942 with the loss of 45 lives.

    The company resumed operations and commissioned new ships after World War II, but sold its last ship in 1971. In the 1980s the company made vast operating changes which severed its connection with its shipping past.

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