Saturday, 25 June 2016


Brisbane Courier, Monday 3 March, 1890.


The fine ship of nearly 3500 tons was 
bowling along under a full head of steam 
on a bright moon-light night in the track 
recommended by the Admiralty survey, 
and under charge of an experienced pilot, 
when suddenly without warning she struck 
an unknown rock, and in three minutes sank in deep water.
In an instant the quiet and peaceful scene on
the saloon deck, so well-known to all who have
travelled in the ocean steamships of our day,
was changed to one of horror and confusion.
Groups of ladies and gentlemen chatting pleasantly 
together, or enjoying the beauty of a
moonlight scene on the water, were thrown into
wildest alarm by the fearful grating of the
vessel's hull upon a hidden rock. Before they
had time to more than half realise the fatal
danger of their position the ship heeled rapidly
over to port, and most of them were swept
into the sea to rise no more. Mean-
while the European seamen responded
nobly to the call of duty, and each man
took his place by the "falls" of the boat
to which he had been assigned. Probably
had a few minutes longer been granted them
many of the valuable lives whose loss we now
mourn would have been saved. But the
accident was too sudden for any provision to
have availed.

Striking a rock could have swift and devastating effect - 3 minutes would not allow time for safe evacuation of passengers and crew. Such a sequence of events could have resulted in the Waratah disappearing from sight, astern of the Harlow. Reef? Waratah? St Johns reef, Bluff Point, 0.5 n miles from where 'the lights of the large steamer disappeared'.

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