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Series of 12 items collected by R J Roberts

Date: 1940's - 1960's
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Elizabeth Roberts
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS0561

User Terms

    These 12 items were collected by R J Roberts during his travels. The series consists of four baggage labels for the Burns Philp Line and Austasia line; one mess card; one Burns Philp Line coupon; one postcard and one envelope for the MV KANIMBLA. These documents span the period c1941 – 1964.
    HistoryBurns Philp represents an important and unique chapter in Australian shipping history. Originating in a trading company in Townsville in the 1870s, Burns Philp developed its own shipping line and trading empire throughout northern Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, along with a network of plantations in the islands. By the 1920s it was a household name. It operated a fleet of large main-line ships in conjunction with a fleet of smaller inter-island ships. Its main-line ships ran regularly as far afield as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Burns Philp passenger liners were well-appointed and well known, with their black and white chequered funnels and the Burns Philp thistle on the house flag. Many BP captains were legendary colourful figures, and the company's name conjured up the romance of the South Seas.

    During World War II both ships and personnel were taken into war service, and the company's specialised knowledge of the Pacific was put to use by Allied commanders. The company's flagship, its then new liner Bulolo, in particular had a distinguished war record, when it was requisitioned into the British Royal Navy and served in actions in both hemispheres. One Burns Philp liner, the Neptuna, was destroyed in the Japanese raid on Darwin in 1942, with the loss of 45 lives.

    Burns Philp resumed operations and commissioned new ships after World War II, but sold its last ship in 1971. In the 1980s the company made vast operating changes which resulted in an organisation bearing little relation to the past shipping and trading company, and brought it to near-bankruptcy. It continues to exist but has no maritime connection.
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    Web title: Series of 12 items collected by R J Roberts

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