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Reproduced courtesy of the Allcot Trust


Date: 1940
Overall: 475 x 578 mm, 2.45 kg
Medium: Gouache
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Allcot Trust
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00016879
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    Gouache painting by John Allcot, 1940, of the Newcastle and Hunter River Steam Navigation Company's SS KARUAH leaving Sydney Harbour. South Head with the Macquarie Lighthouse and Hornby light are shown in the background. The painting shows the ship in its first year of service. The KARUAH was a small cargo ship with some passenger accommodation. It operated between the ports of Sydney and Newcastle and along the Hunter River, with some interstate voyages, from 1940 until 1956 when the NHRSN Company was wound up.

    SignificanceThe painting records the last ship owned by the Newcastle and Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, and represents the last generation of ships to operate in a local coastal trade offering regular passenger services. The painting is an example of the work of John Allcot, a popular Australian marine artist of the 20th century.
    HistoryThe KARUAH was built in Hong Kong in 1940 and bought by the Newcastle and Hunter River Steam Navigation Company. It was 1,341 gross tons, and 230 feet (70 metres) long. It was one of the last two ships purchased by the Company, with whom it remained until 1956 when the Company was reformed into the Southern Shipping Company Limited.

    In 1855 the Hunter River New Steam Navigation Company was formed and three steamers were ordered to service Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. It was set up in as a competitor to the local Australian Steam Navigation Company. In 1876 the Newcastle Steamship company was established in opposition to the two existing companies. From that peak of supporting three companies, the Newcastle trade declined. In 1880 the Australian Steam Navigation Company left the Newcastle trade, and in 1892 the two remaining local companies amalgamated following the opening of the Sydney-to-Newcastle railway. The combined trade provided by the amalgamation still sustained a daily voyage from Newcastle to Sydney carrying passengers and cargo.

    The purchase of the KARUAH reflected the continuing decline of passenger travel to Newcastle some decades later. It was built with little passenger accommodation and replaced a generation of vessels built in the 1920s when passenger travel was still a significant part of the trade. Through the 1940s the decline continued and the KARUAH was forced to look for trade beyond Newcastle. The company sold its two other ships. Eventually, in August 1956, the company was transformed into the Southern Shipping Company Limited, and the regular service between Newcastle and Sydney ceased.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: SS KARUAH

    Primary title: Untitled (SS KARUAH)

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