Trove Tuesday – S.S. Casino

The idea of catching a steam ship from Portland to Melbourne 100 years ago sounds romantic until one considers the stretch of coastline  navigated to reach Melbourne – the Shipwreck coast.  There have been over 200 wrecks along the entire stretch of coast and from Port Fairy to Apollo Bay alone there have been 80 shipwrecks.

Early settlers used steamers to transport wool and other freight to the Melbourne ports and back. Stephen Henty purchased his own steamers to make the trip.  The steamers were also for passage,  an alternative to the rough hair-raising ride of a Cobb & Co coach or later, the train.

Advertising. (1868, February 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5790334

Advertising. (1868, February 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5790334

One steamer that regularly made the journey from 1882 was the S.S.Casino, notching up 2,500 trips along the southern coastline.  Owned by the Belfast and Koroit Navigation Company the ship was built in Scotland.

S.S. CASINO.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  H92.302/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/195620

S.S. CASINO. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H92.302/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/195620

The Casino is the subject of the this week’s Trove Tuesday post because on July 10, 1932, the steamer made its last voyage.  Just short of the Apollo Bay pier, the S.S. Casino struck a sandbar and sunk.  Ten lives were lost.

casino1

TEN PERISH IN WRECK. (1932, July 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 7. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4462307

TEN PERISH IN WRECK. (1932, July 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 7. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4462307

The Portland Guardian reported on the disaster, noting one of the survivors, 11-year-old Joan Greer, was the daughter of a worker at the Richmond Hotel in Portland.  Remarkably, while the girl travelled on the Casino, her mother took the train for the return trip from Melbourne to Portland.  One of the victims was Helena Gill, the stewardess with 40 years service.

casino3

Wreck of the Casino. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298698

Wreck of the Casino. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298698

 

An unfortunate oversight was an advertisement that ran in the Portland Guardian on July 11, the day after the wreck.   It  advised that passage was available to Melbourne weekly aboard the S.S Casino, “weather and other circumstances permitting”.

Advertising. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298708

Advertising. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298708

Tomorrow at 11am the Port Fairy Historical Society will remember those that lost their lives on the S.S. Casino, 81 years ago.  More information is on their Facebook page.

The S.S. Casino still lies at the bottom of the ocean off Apollo Bay and is now a dive wreck.  The anchor is displayed outside the Apollo Bay Post Office.  There is more information about the steamer’s history on the Victorian Government’s Department of Planning and Community Development website.

 

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