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SS WESTRALIA (I)

Date: 1897 - 1927
Dimensions:
Overall: 150 x 197 mm
Medium: Photograph
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transfer from the Australian War Memorial
Classification:Photographs
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: ANMS0047[601]

User Terms

    Description
    WESTRALIA is shown off Mrs Macquaries Chair in Sydney Harbour.
    SignificanceThis photograph represents the WESTRALIA's important role as a passenger ship in Australian waters during the 20th century.
    HistoryWESTRALIA (I) was an Australian coastal steamer built in 1897 by Sir James Laing at Deptford Yards, Sunderland, United Kingdom for Messrs Huddart, Parker & Co Limited. The single screw steamer was capable of carrying 180 first class passengers, 200 steerage and cargo with a gross tonnage of 2742 tons. For a time it was the largest passenger ship operating in Australian waters and was regarded as a luxurious ship, with electric lights, modern bathrooms and finely carved oak and teak panelling in the public rooms. Its design was considered to be so successful that the company ordered three more ships based on the dimensions of the WESTRALIA between 1899 and 1904.

    WESTRALIA undertook the coastal service on Australia's eastern ports travelling from Melbourne to Fremantle to take advantage of the economic boom generated from the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s. After this it served for 20 years on the Sydney to Hobart run.

    It was sold in 1927 and towed to New Guinea where it was used as a store ship after having its engines removed. Based in Rabaul the vessel was used to hold Copra waiting to be shipped to Australia. A Japanese bomb sunk WESTRALIA on 22 January 1942 while it was in Rabual Harbour.

    Huddart Parker was formed in Geelong in the 1850s and grew on the trade produced by the Victorian gold rush to become a major Australian shipping company by the 1890s. The discovery of gold in Western Australia in the 1890s sparked a boom and several companies competed for service in the trade. They rapidly expanded in the 20th century and became publicly listed in 1911 with the name Huddart Parker Ltd. Five ships were requisitioned during the First World War, with the loss of one. During the inter-war period Huddart Parker expanded into servicing Tasmania with a New Zealand company. Its three passenger ships, ZEALANDIA, WESTRALIA and WANGANELLA were once again requisitioned for the Second World War with ZEALANDIA sinking during the Japanese raid on Darwin in February 1942.

    Huddart Parker was taken over by Bitumen and Oil Refineries Australia Ltd in 1961.

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