42a["A Blow at Port Hedland", The Hedland Advocate (Port Hedland, WA), Saturday 23 March 1912, page 5]
A Blow at Port Hedland
Esplanade Washed Away
Railway and Telegraph Lines Damaged
As if to palliate the tedium of the scorching, enervating heat, Hedland was visited this week by a cross-bred willy-willy, which, coming with the equinoctal tides, did a fair amount of damage. It is pretty certain that had it been a full-blooded willy it would have spelt disaster to the lowlands of Hedland.
It started on Tuesday night, with a strong easterly wind whistling and roaring, and the sea thundering and crumbling on the beach, indicative of heavier and deadlier surges out at sea.
Wednesday morning saw about 40 luggers running to the shelter of Port Hedland, where they were soon safely anchored, with bowsprits swinging up and down in salutation to the dip and rise of each other. These luggers had a rough time on Tuesday night, near Turtle Island, the cutting away of masts on some being seriously contemplated.
42b[Extracts, Court of Marine Inquiry, loss of s.s. "Koombana", Harbour & Lights Department, Western Australia, 25 April - 6 May, 1912. WA Museum (on loan), Letter, W. Gardiner, A.S.S. Coy agent in Port Hedland, to W.E. Moxon, A.S.S. Coy Manager for W.A., Fremantle, Wednesday 17 April 1912]
THE ADELAIDE STEAMSHIP COMPANY Ltd.
17th April 1912.
W.E. MOXON ESQ.,
Manager for W.A.
I am just in receipt of yours of 4th instant per
"Paroo". I have written a quantity of matter by a
previous mail relative to the "Koombana" and the weather
at the time of her departure and I shall probably repeat
myself in replying to your letter of above date.
(1). I was not aware that Captain Allen and Captain
Upjohn had any conversation regarding the weather before
they left until I saw it reported in the press. I was
with them both on sailing morning and spent the last hour
with Captain Allen on his Bridge Deck. The glass at that
time was not more than 10 points below normal at the
particular period of the year. Only a fortnight before
the glass fell nearly 60 points and nothing eventuated.
Captain Allen discussed with me the advisability of taking
the ship over the outer bar as the stiff easterly wind
blowing at the time was causing the sea to break in the
channel and he didn't half like the idea, as he feared if the
sea was very heavy outside he might bump heavily. However,
after consideration, he decided that as he would be leaving
on the top of high water equinoctial springs he should be
safe. It blew rather hard during Tuesday night but had
eased off Wednesday morning (sailing day) and the question
of Willy Willy never arose in the conversation. As to the
remarks said to have been made by Captain Allen that he
would not arrive in Broome for several days, he said to me
that with the stiff head wind lowing he would have no
hope of making Broome in time to catch the following day's
tide. In fact, he would be surprised if he wasn't a day
late as he wasn't too keen on Broome at night in dirty
weather. I did not repeat this conversation but I heard
a publican named Bush state that he heard Captain Allen
say he reckoned he would be a couple of days reaching
Broome but ther was no talk of standing out to sea and I
do not think for a moment Captain Allen thought he was
going out into a blow or that there was any immediate pros-
pect of a blow. As to a report that the vessel pitched
heavily as she went out, she only moved a little to a little
rough water caused by a high spring tide converging into a
narrow entrance. The only consultation I know of between
Captain Allen and Captain Upjohn was regarding the beacons
and I sent you a joint wire which they had written out.
(2). The weather for 24 hours before leaving was not
encouraging but with only a drop of 10 points in the
glass. The wind had been blowing fairly hard during the
night but eased in the morning. The sea was not running
particularly high as far as could be seen from the land but
as we have so much shallow ground around us were not in
a position to say what it was like further out. For
twenty-four hours after conditions got slowly worse, but very
(3). A large number of luggers came into the creek on
Wednesday morning and I spoke to a number of them and they
explained that they came in on account of dirty water caused
by the strong easterly wind and there was no talk in any way of a
blow. In fact many of them have said to me since that the
pearling fleets narrowly escaped a disaster which would have
been the greatest in their history as they never thought of
a blow when they came: it was solely on account of dirty
water. They arrived in mostly before the steamer sailed.
(4) I have already written and telegraphed you with
reference to the Bedout Light. You can take it as authentic
that the light was not burning later than the 13th ult.
Being equinoctal tides the water was naturally
higher than usual. It did not damage but washed away a few
yards of sand and was in danger of undermining the light tower
which was built on the water's edge, and a few sand bags
BEDOUT LIGHT - It is hard to say what bearing the absence
of this light would have on the disaster. If she caught the
full force of the blow out there, I don't suppose she would see
it in any case.
ADELAIDE STEAMSHIP CO. LTD.,
Sd. W. GARDINER.