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The Waratah

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Waratah was a Tasmanian-built steamship.

Early history

The Waratah was built in Launceston, Tasmania. It was made out of tallow wood (Eucalyptus microcorys) and kauri (Agathis australis), and was fitted with a two-cylinder compound steam engine.

It was sold to the Western Australian government in 1897 where it was used by both the Fisheries Department and then the Police Department.

The vessel served a brief, unsuccessful stint as a pilot boat at Albany. The ship was then sold to the owners of a shell grit mill on the Kalgan River, who used it to transport their product to Albany.


The shell grit mill eventually closed, and the Waratah was abandoned for several years before being bought by Frederick Everett and Jim Bone, who planned to sail it to Fremantle for an extensive overhaul. In the meantime, they re-rigged the ship as a schooner and installed a 4-cylinder petrol engine.

Everett departed Albany on the Waratah in early-April 1934. (Bone was not onboard because he had work to do at the Yearlering Co-operative.)

On 6 April, in order to avoid some bad weather, Everett sailed the Waratah into Nornalup Inlet. The Albany Advertiser later reported that “[s]he anchored, but the rope parted and her rudder broke, and her career ended on a reef”.

The newspaper report of the incident stated that the crew had saved some of their property, but the Waratah was a total wreck.

Some of the spars of the schooner were evidently salvaged by a local man named Swarbrick, one of which he subsequently sold to the owner of a yacht which had snapped a mast.

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The Waratah remains wrecked off the southern coast of Western Australia to this day, near Nornalup on the southern coast.

This vessel is not to be confused with the SS Waratah, a passenger and cargo steamship built in 1908 for the Blue Anchor Line to operate between Europe and Australia. In July 1909, on only her second voyage, the ship –  en route from Durban to Cape Town – disappeared with 211 passengers and crew aboard. No trace of the ship has ever been found.


Source: Tasmanian Times

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