43a["Fire on the s.s. Koombana", The Hedland Advocate (Port Hedland, WA), Saturday 22 October 1910]


Having failed, through no fault of our own to ascertain particulars of the fire from the Adelaide Coy.'s officials, we have to rely on information received from passengers and a few more reliable details gathered from observing and semaphoring by hand flags between the s.s. Junee (at the wharf) and the s.s. Koombana (in mid-stream).

Thus. About 1 a.m. Thursday, while the Koombana was steaming from Broome towards Hedland, smoke was observed issuing from No. 1 hold (in which 68 bales of wool had been stored on the up trip at Shark Bay, together with a quantity of feed for sheep which were to be taken aboard at Carnarvon on the down trip). The smoke was too dense to enable the seat of the trouble to be got at, but it was patent that the smoke was coming from smouldering wool--spontaneous combustion having been caused by wet bales of fleeces.

The hold was sealed down, Clayton's patent fire extinguisher requisitioned, and fire-hose got out ready for any emergency. Full steam was set for Hedland. Later, it was found necessary to seal up No. 2 hold. Everything was done quietly, without a passenger being disturbed from a peaceful slumber. At 5 a.m. several passengers were aroused by the smell of smoke in their cabins.

The Koombana entered the Hedland harbor at noon, when the hatch of No. 1 hold was uncomfortably hot, but it was announced that all would be well by 6 a.m. Friday, when it was intended to bring the ship alongside the jetty.

Early Friday morning townspeople were alarmed at seeing dense smoke coming from No. 1 hold (by this time the mails had been taken out of No. 2), and soon afterwards the semaphore by hand flags announced that the wool was still on fire.

The Junee was to have left port by mid-day Friday, but remained until word was received from Fremantle that the Koombana was to proceed on her course along the coast.

Capt. Rees evidently satisfied that he had the fire under control, as order were issued for passengers, mail, etc., to be taken aboard in time for the boat to sail at mid-night Friday.

The Koombana was alongside the jetty when we went to press, at 10 o'clock, last night.

43b["The Lost Waratah", The Argus (Melbourne), Monday 19 December 1910, page 7]


Stability Questioned.

A Dramatic Incident.

Passenger's Warning Dream.

LONDON, Bec. 17.

The Board of Trade inquiry into the loss of the s.s. Waratah was continued yesterday.


Shipmasters' Stories.


Captain Cox, of the steamer Tottenham, was examined in regard to statements that the Tottenham, which left Durban 10 days after the Waratah, had passed floating bodies off East London. Captain Cox declared that he had put back on his course without making an extended search, owing to an officer having reported that the bodies seen had been found to be those of sun-fish.

Mr. Stewart, second engineer on the Tottenham, said that he and other engineers saw what they believed to be bodies, also a ship's bed, but the captain said they were fish. A rumour was circulated in the ship that it was better for the ship's company not to say what they had seen.


43c[Official Log Book s.s. "Koombana", 13/8/1910 - 13/01/1911, State Records Office of Western Australia. ACC 1056 AN 16/4 Item 116]


Date of the Occurrence entered with Hour.|

Place of the Occurrence, or situation by Latitude or Longitude at Sea.|

Date of Entry|

Entries required by Act of Parliament|

Amount of Fine or Forfeiture indicated.


20/10/1910 1:30am|

At Sea between Broome and Pt Hedland. Lat 19.15 South Long 119.36 East|


Smoke was discovered issueing from ventilators of No 1 hold , hatches which were on at the time were at once battened down. All apertures to hold closed and Claytons Fire Extinguisher started, fire hoses connected and placed in position for immediate use. JW Rees Master.


21/10/1910 8:00am|

Pt Hedland Harbor|


Uncovered No.1 hatch dense smoke issuing. battened down hatches and restarted Fire Extinguisher, decided to keep hatches closed and fire extinguisher at work until arrival at Fremantle. JW Rees Master


27/10/1910 2:45pm|

Victoria Quay Fremantle|


Open up No.1 hatch fire still smoldering found it necessary to flood hold. four of the ship's hoses at work until arrival of water boat and firemen at 4pm, 5pm fire out and stopped all water, damage as per Surveyor's report. JW Rees Master


21/12/1910 6:30am|

Sharks Bay|


While proceeding from Carnarvon to Denham anchorage ship took the ground whilst at reduced speed eastward of Heirrisson buoy, the weather was hazy at the time and a Strong Southerly was blowing which so disturbed the water that there was no indication of shallow water, neither buoys nor land visible by which to take bearings. last sounding taken just previous to grounding had given 7 1/2 fathoms. The Engines were at once reversed and kept at full speed astern for 3/4 of an hour but as the tide was falling failed to move ship. Sounding around ship gave from two fms under bow to five fms under stern. JM Rees Master

[also signed by what looks like H. Upjohn Mate]


21/12/1910 4:00pm|

Sharks Bay|


On rising tide engines were moved ahead and astern. 4:30pm ship floated and proceeded to Denham anchorage. JM Rees Master

[also signed by what looks like H. Upjohn Mate]