Saturday, 3 October 2015

Waratah - Hillcrag's account of the Waratah storm.

The Barrier Miner (Broken Hill) Friday 2 February, 1912

The Port Pirie correspondent of the"S.M. Herald" wired on January 20:
There are probably few vessels afloatthat have met with so many misfortunes as have befallen the steamer Hillcrag, which will sail from Port Piriefor Sydney to-morrow. The Hillcragwas formerly the Bannockburn. Onthe day she was launched she shippeda large quantity of water, and had tobe docked for alterations.
She left Durban the same day as thesteamer Waratah, and experienced thefull force of the terrific hurricane whichis believed to have been the cause ofthe loss of that vessel. According tothe chief officer of the Hillcrag, the galecommenced in the afternoon, and in-creased so rapidly that the steamerhad almost to stop her engines. Shehad 250 tons of coal on deck, and mostof this had to be jettisoned. Enormous seas their the steamer on her beam ends, and swept the decks from stem to stern. Considerable damage was done the Hillcrag, which was bound for New Zealand, but it was found necessary to put into Albany for coal.
It is not surprising the general consensus in 1909 was that the Waratah foundered in such a storm. But let us not forget that the Waratah was the only vessel which did not make port after the 'storm of exceptional violence'. The humble Hillcrag, pictured below, survived, as did many other modest steamers.

On March 4, 1910, the Hillcrag hadanother misadventure, when steamingnear to Dover with a cargo of spiritsand wine. She collided with the steamer James Westoll and half of her portside was knocked in. The Chinesecrew mutinied, and attacked the chiefofficer. He drew his revolver, and shottwo of them. One subsequently died.
The Hillcrag also grounded at Port Blakeby and damaged her hull. At San Francisco during October, 1911, she was sold to her present owners, and her name was changed from Bannokburn to Hillcrag. Captain Dent is in command.

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