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Rescue Party SS TOMKI wrecked Richmond Heads 14 September 1907

Date: 1907
Overall: 139 mm
Medium: Photographic print on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00001745

User Terms

    A black and white postcard showing part of the rescue party for the SS TOMKI which was wrecked at Richmond Heads on 14 September, 1907.
    SignificanceWrecks off the coast of Australia have been common and yet very few visual records of the event survive. This photograph shows the immediate involvement and assistance of locals and the safe recovery of all passengers and crew.
    History"It seemed incredible that a fine boat like the TOMKI, well found in every respect and in charge of an experienced master, could be wrecked at the entrance in broad daylight and in fine clear weather --for in Lismore the weather was beautifully fine though with perhaps a rather strong SW wind blowing. It appears, however, although there had been no dirty weather on the coast, there was a heavy sea run- ning, and those who were out on the beach say the breakers were very heavy and the wind very fresh.
    The TOMKI was ready for sea soon after one o'clock. She had a fairly full cargo principally timber, butter, and sugar, and a large cargo of sundries and 18 passengers. She left Ballina wharf at about 1.20 and the disaster occurred about 15 or 20 minutes afterwards. The channel runs out along the northern breakwater and as she neared the seaward end of the wall she struck something, and immediately afterwards the second engineer reported the starboard propeller had been stripped. One report is that the vessel was then badly bumped on to the wall starting her plates and she immediately began to take in water. She was just about to be headed south for Sydney and the captain, seeing the serious state of things, at once headed for the northern beach, running her in the direction of the lighthouse. She took the spit about 100 yards from the breakwater and about 200 yards from the shore, and by this time she was pretty well full of water with the seas breaking over her. Her perilous position was immediately seen from the pilot station and all speed was made to the beach with the rocket apparatus to render assistance. As soon as she struck she was at the mercy of the seas, and the rollers threatened very soon to sweep her. No time was lost with the life-lines and fortunately the first shot carried a line aboard. The necessary connection with the shore was soon established and by means of the lines the whole of the passengers and crew were safely landed. Captain Archer was, of course, the last to leave the doomed vessel and a hearty cheer was raised as he got safely ashore. The landing was not effected without difficulty and some danger, the waves dashing over the unfortunate people as they passed along the lines, drenching them to the skin. In every case they came ashore with only what they stood up in. The news had quickly spread round Ballina and large numbers of people were soon congregated on the wall and the beach. It was seen, however, that nothing could be done till the sea moderated, and during the evening it appeared to go down." (Northern Star, onday 16 September 1907).

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