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Dinner menu card for the McIlwraith McEacharn liner KANIMBLA.

Date: 2 May 1960
Height: 229mm, width: 152mm.
Medium: Paper, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection McIlwraith McEacharn Limited
Object Name: Menu
Object No: ANMS0951[003]

User Terms

    Menu card from the McIlwraith McEacharn liner KANIMBLA featuring a colour illustration of a Japanese landscape above black typed text that reads 'Mt. Fuji from Mitsutoge Pass / TSMV KANIMBLA / Commander JS McBryde / Dinner'.
    SignificanceThe London-based shipping company McIlwraith McEacharn was heavily involved in Australian maritime industries for a period of nearly 80 years. Shipboard menus such as these were often printed to be souvenirs and were collected as mementos of their travels by crew and passengers. Many shipping companies produced their own series of collectable menus with themes such as Australian flora and fauna or exotic destinations.
    HistoryKANIMBLA was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast for McIlwraith McEacharn and launched on 12 December 1935. The vessel worked successfully as a passenger liner between Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle, however after three years KANIMBLA was requisitioned by the Navy in 1939 for war service as an armed merchant cruiser. During the war KANIMBLA also served as a Landing Ship Infantry (LSI) and as a troopship. In the years after the war she remained in service to assist with the repatriation of released Prisoners of War to Australia. KANIMBLA was returned to her owners in 1950 and continued to work as a passenger liner. She was sold in 1961 to a foreign firm and continued as passenger transport until 1973 when the vessel was sold for scrap.

    McIlwraith McEacharn Limited originated in London in 1875 and went on to become one of the largest and most successful companies operating in Australia throughout the following century. The company was formed in early 1875 when shipbroker Malcolm McEacharn joined with shipowner Andrew McIlwraith, offering services as insurance and shipping agents. Within a year of forming, McIlwraith McEacharn had won a major contract with the Queensland Government to provide six ships for two years, transporting British migrants to Australia. On the return journey the ships would sail to the USA, Chile or the Philippines and collect resources for shipment back to England.

    When the contract between McIlwraith McEacharn and the Queensland Government ended in the 1880s, the company's ships moved to convey mainly wool and passengers. Around this time McIlwraith McEacharn gained some notoriety as pioneers of frozen and refrigerated sea transport. On a visit to Australia, Andrew McIlwraith had inspected local experiments with refrigerated transport. McIlwraith was able to improve upon the technology he had seen and in 1879 he chartered the SS STRATHLEVEN, commissioning a Glasgow-based firm to fit the ship with freezing works. SS STRATHLEVEN collected her frozen cargo in Australia and arrived in London on 2 February 1880 with 40 tons of intact produce such as meat and butter. The venture, while not financially profitable, was a complete success for the company and earned them widespread acclaim.
    Throughout next few decades, McIlwraith McEacharn became involved in mining and transportation services, and strengthened its hold on passenger shipping. In the mid–1950s, as passenger travel moved to rail and road, the company became involved in bulk shipping and entered partnerships with several other large organisations such as P&O. But by the 1980s coal had become the major focus of McIlwraith McEacharn and the company sold its remaining shipping interests. In 1992 the remainder of the business was traded to a US company and lost its 19th century name.

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