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16 February 2015

With a bit of good fortune.


 image of ship Photograph – Alan C. Green.  State Library of Victoria – No copyright restrictions apply.

Despite a long history of shipwrecks from the sailing ship era and repeated articles and dispatches to ship owners and captains warning them of the dangers involved in plying the coast about the Wreck Bay and Jervis Bay area, ships continued running into trouble inside the treacherous bite of Wreck Bay and around the uncompromising coast of Jervis Bay.
    Other than the ability to proceed faster without the need for wind, early coastal steamers still suffered with limited navigation and communication equipment, combined with poor weather or in some cases a lack of due care, steamers of all sizes followed on from sailing ships in the past, becoming victims of the notorious part of the south east coast known as Wreck Bay.

painting Artist – Alan C. Green.   State Library of Victoria – No copyright restrictions apply.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner's advocate, Friday 20 1889.


“The steamer Norkoowa 1074 tons, owned by Mc’Ilawraith and Co., of Melbourne, and which has for some time been involved in the coal trade between Melbourne and Newcastle, is ashore in Wreck Bay, near Jervis Bay.  The steamer Kameruka went to her assistance, but failed to tow her off.  Another attempt is to be made this evening, and the weather is fine,  and more powerful vessels are to be engaged, it is anticipated the attempt will be successful”.


In this case the Norkoowa’s luck was with her, despite being high up on rocks, the weather had remained relatively calm and she avoided the fate of so many previous vessels that found themselves in a similar situation.

Successfully Refloated.
Friday 10.30am - The S.S. Commodore reached the scene after a hard and dirty trip overnight from Sydney, The Commodore put to immediately and set about trying to haul the Norkoowa off the rocks,  after repeated attempts and little progress, the Commodore left for Ulladulla for more equipment, returning the same day.

Saturday morning – They tried again and managed to haul the steamer 20ft astern and 8ft brestward. 

Sunday morning – The S.S Aldinga arrived at 3a.m with more salvage equipment.
At 5a.m. the Aldinga and Commodore took hold, and at 7.15 a.m. the Norkwooka was afloat in deep water.


“There was a good deal of swell in the bay, which had a damaging effect on the stranded vessel, causing her to roll from bilge and fore and aft heavily.
Afterwards steam was got up and the three steamers went around into Jervis Bay.
After anchoring there she called the Commodore alongside, as the water was gaining in her afterhold  also forward”.


The Norkoowa's heavy bumping on the inhospitable shores of Wreck Bay had evidently damaged her hull to a greater extent than was first supposed.

A later telegram stated that it was hoped temporary repairs could be effected for making a start again on Monday for Sydney, where it is proposed to dock and overhaul the steamer.

Norkoowa's pumps were unequal to the work of keeping the Norwooka afloat.  At that juncture the pumps and gear taken down in the Aldinga by Captain Hall came into valuable use.  The centrifugal pumps were put on board the sinking vessel, and by that means and a pump from the Port Jackson tug-steamer Commodore, the water gaining  freely below was overcome...

The steamer Alinga will stay by the damaged vessel, and will escort her up the coast to Sydney.


The captains and crew of all the vessels involved were complimented upon the efficient manner with which they carried out instructions.
“The whole crew exerted themselves to the utmost of their ability in the arduous work in connection with the successful floating of the steamer”.


Specs: A screw steel steamer of 1074 tons net.
Length 250ft
Beam 35ft 2in.
Depth of hold 18ft 7 in.
Built at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1885.
Commanded - Captain J. Jackson.
General description: She is a thorough collier, without and pretentions to fine lines or passenger accommodation.
Probably insured.

1912 - The Norkoowa was eventually broken up in Bombay.

Ref: http://www.tynebuiltships.co.uk/N-Ships/norkoowa1885.html

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