Monday, 21 September 2015


The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 21 September, 1909
The owners of the Waratah, Messrs. W. Lundand Sons, have prepared for the London press synopsis of the cargo on the steamer at the time of her departure from Durban, from which it appears the total amount on board is 6128 tons. In addition to this there are about 2000 tons of bunker coal. The ore and lead are stowed right in the bottom of the ship. As a matter of fact she has very Iittle cargo in her upper 'tween decks. She is on passage home in what is known as the "off season," and, being a large vessel, this accounts for the amount of empty space she had. Some time ago it was reported that about 250-300 tons of coal were on the bridge deck. The Waratah has no bridge deck, and this coal is carried in a space on deck which was specially intended to be used either as cargo space, or for the stowing ofextra coal.
This was a very conservative estimate on the part of the owners. The Inquiry came to a greater figure of roughly 6250 tons + lead, and in coming posts I will explore how newspaper reports varied regarding the items and weights of cargo.
The Waratah already had a reputation for being top heavy. Why would the owners enhance this belief by claiming that she was in 'light trim' when she departed Durban? Quite simply, I believe the owners were far more concerned about allegations of a steamer that was too heavy.
It is interesting to note that the report starts in the present tense 'amount on board IS 6128 tons'. This slips sadly into the past tense 'amount of empty space she HAD'. The Waratah was gone.

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