I believe that Waratah experienced a fire on board, as was observed and described by Captain Bruce of the Harlow. Clearly, under such circumstances, Captain Ilbery was attempting to return to Port Natal. The last sighting of Waratah, roughly 8 pm, 27 July, was in a position a mere 0.5 n miles off the shore, near Poenskop. If this scenario is true, there has to be an explanation for Waratah being in a dangerous position close to the St John reef, Bluff Point. In the next few posts I am going to explore period incidents involving fires on board steamers to understand the scenario outlined by Captain Bruce.
For an in depth reminder of the Harlow theory go to:
The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October, 1909.