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Dinner menu from Burns Philp Line's MV MALAITA

Date: 14 June 1939
Overall: 205 x 122 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Sharon Holt
Object Name: Menu
Object No: 00009452

User Terms

    This crew dinner menu, which was on board the Burns Philp Line’s MV MALAITA on 14 June 1939, features a photograph of the vessel on the front cover along with the text ‘M.V. MALAITA, (Voyage no. 47), Commander: W.O.L. Wilding, Dinner Adieu, Burns Philp Line.’
    SignificanceShipboard menus were the most common type of souvenir collected by passengers. This particular menu was collected by George Caulfield, the Chief Purser and Steward of MALAITA. It illustrates how crew menus for special occasions, in this case a farewell dinner, were designed as an official keepsake and included such details as a crew list as a reminder to those who sailed on the merchant vessel.
    HistoryIn 1932, Burns Philp and Company ordered a new vessel be built to replace MATARAM on the Solomon Islands trade. The new ship was named MALAITA and was launched at the Clydeholm yard in Glasgow a year later. MALAITA finally arrived in Sydney in January 1934 and it was praised in the press for its ‘comfort and simplicity’. Within days of arriving, the vessel set off for its first voyage to the Solomon Islands.

    This service continued until the outbreak of World War II when it was requisitioned as a troop transport. It was not until 1942, however, that MALAITA had its first brush with battle. MALAITA was sailing for Cairns, escorted by the ‘Tribal’ class destroyer HMAS ARUNTA, and was struck by a torpedo fired by the Japanese submarine RO.33. In spite of the damage caused by the blow, MALAITA remained afloat and was towed by the naval store ship HMAS POTERO and the Burns Philp vessel MATAFELE to anchor in Hanuabada Island. After receiving some repair work, MALAITA sailed to Brisbane and then to Sydney where she remained until 1947. The merchant vessel then recommenced the Islands trade. Financial pressures eventually caused Burns Philp to sell MALAITA in 1965.

    There are a large number of shipboard menus in the museum’s collection and a vast majority of these menus appeared in passenger liners. This shipboard menu offers a rare glimpse into the social life of crew members on board a merchant vessel. The menu would have served as a keepsake for crew members attending the farewell dinner on board MALAITA, sailing across Australia’s east coast through to the Pacific Islands.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Dinner menu from MV MALAITA

    Web title: Dinner menu from Burns Philp Line's MV MALAITA

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