27["No News of the Koombana", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sunday 31 March 1912, page 1]



The s.s. Gorgon has been out searching the Rowley Shoals, and was thence to cross to Broome, where she was expected yesterday.

The s.s. Moira is passing to the westward through the Lacepedes, Rowley Shoals and north of Montebello, and will conduct a close search.

The s.s. Minderoo left Onslow at 6 p.m. on Thursday for Cossack, and she arrived at Point Sampson Jetty, near Cossack, last night. As nothing was posted at the G.P.O. anent her search for the Koombana it was evidently unsuccessful. The Chief Harbormaster advises that after the Minderoo's arrival at Cossack she is to run down the eastern coast of the Montebello Islands, and across to open water to the north-east of the Rowley Shoals, subsequently again crossing to Port Hedland on search.

The s.s. Bullarra is at Broome preparing for sea, preparatory to passing down to the westward to Rowley Shoals and Montebello Islands.

The s.s. Una left Geraldton at 1 a.m. yesterday for Cossack direct, with a full cargo of coal supplies, so that she can make an exhaustive search of the coast in the neighbourhood of the supposed disaster.

The fleet of steamers will in a few days be reinforced by the s.s. Moonta, which is due at Fremantle on Tuesday next, and should leave two days later for Derby. While en route for that port she will keep a sharp look-out to westward of Montebello Islands and the Rowley Shoals.

A large number of luggers are also assisting in the search by scouring the coastline.


The Adelaide Steamship Company yesterday afternoon issued the following official report dealing with the search for the Koombana:--

Port Hedland.--The Adelaide Co.'s manager wires that luggers have returned from the Amphinome Shoals, having scoured same and the coast near and wide and report--"No trace of Koombana."

Broome.--Captain Upjohn, master of the s.s. Bullarra, reports having carefully scoured Turtle Islands and Bedout Island, having landed search parties, and thereafter proceeded via the Ninety-mile Beach to Broome, intercepting a number of luggers. No trace whatever was found in this section of the Koombana.


Mrs. Pigott, one of the passengers aboard the Koombana, is the wife of Mr. Sydney Pigott, at present one of the leading pearlers, and secretary of the Pearlers' Association. Mr. Pigott was at one time member for his district and Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament. The Misses Skamp are Mr. Pigott's stepdaughters.

Mr. Arthur[sic] Davis, of the firm of Rubin and Davis, pearl buyers, Broome, was just returning from Melbourne after undergoing a serious operation. He was not fairly recovered from the effects of this, but being under the necessity of visiting his buying agent at Shark Bay, was practically forced to travel by the Koombana. He would otherwise have waited a fortnight. Mr. Davis was highly esteemed by all who knew him.

Mr. James Doyle, who was a steerage passenger for Derby on board the Koombana, is a well-known Fremantle resident, being the proprietor of the Comet Skating Rink at South Beach.

Mr. Paul Strelitz, Consul for the Netherlands, expressed the fear that on board is Dr. De Bleick, who, on behalf of the Dutch Government, has been touring Australia for the past seven months, inquiring into cattle breeding and cattle diseases. He left Fremantle per the Charon and got off at Carnarvon, intending to travel per the Koombana to Broome, en route to Java.

William Patrick Milne, who was bound for Derby on the Koombana, is a married man, his wife and children living in Perth. He was employed for a long time by the Government on boring work on one of the overland stock routes in the Far North. Mr. Milne is about 38 years old., and Mr. David Milne, who resides in Robert-street, Kalgoorlie, is his brother.

Mr. Jenkins, who is a passenger for Derby, is a brother to Nurse Russell, of Kalgoorlie, and Miss Jenkins, also mentioned in the list, is her niece.


Mr. Jamieson, the chief officer is a well-known identity in Western Australia, having been with the Adelaide Steamship Company for a considerable period.

Mr. W. R. A. McKinlay is a young South Australian, who is an acknowledged seaman, and is the only son of Mr. W. H. McKinlay, of Mount Gambier, S.A.

Mr. W. B. Innes, the chief engineer, is an old servant of the company, while Mr. F. H. Harris, the purser, and Mr. F. W. Johnson, the chief steward, have served in their respective capacities in several of the ships in the Australian fleet.

Mr. Black, the pantryman, is thought to be a son of Mr. James Black, of Penola, South Australia.

Gordon Gee, the saloon waiter, used to be on the Karoola, and afterwards he was employed at Smith's Railway Hotel at North Fremantle. He is about 25 years of age.

Charlie Walker, the ship's butcher, who stands only 5ft. high, was for a time in business as a butcher in South Fremantle. He has a wife and two children.

It is stated that the name of the second cook, published as "H. Stanberg," should be "H. Gainsberg." The latter has a married sister living in Boundary-street, South Fremantle.

Charlie Stanley, one of the A.B.'s, was at one time in the United States Navy, and came here from Canada. He worked for a long time on the Fremantle wharf.

Several stewards, whose names appear on the articles of the Koombana, may not have joined the vessel. Captain Smith, the Port shipping master, asks that in this event the men who did not go should notify him.


A particularly sad case in connection with the recent Nor'-West tragedy is that of Captain Edward (Eddie) P. Maginnis, who was drowned from the launch at Balla Balla. For some time he was an officer on the ill-fated Yongala, and left her to fill a similar position on the Koombana. While on that ship he met manager Sleeman, of the Whim Well Copper Mines, who offered him a billet as wharfinger at Balla Balla, an excellent appointment with good pay.

So pleased was Captain Maginnis at his prospects that he sent for his mother to the Eastern States, not having seen her for years, she arriving in her new home at Balla Balla but two days before her darling son was drowned. Captain Maginnis, whose picture will appear next week, was an especially lovable man, and his death is deeply mourned by a large circle of friends.


Sailing directions issued to mariners give the annexed information:--

[description of the three atolls, their features and dangers]


The following are the names of those passengers...


The Premier received a letter yesterday from Mr. Moxon,..


The following are amendments to Koombana's passenger list, published in another column:--W. Hereford to read W. Hurford; F. Rustle to read Corporal Buttle; H. S. Taylor to read A. S. Taylor, these being passengers for Derby; Mrs. and Miss Gilliam for Broome, to read Mrs. and Miss Gilliam, who were booked on behalf of the Gaol Department; and Rev. Maine to read Mr. R. W. Main.


The s.s. Minderoo, Captain Mills in charge, has gone in search of the missing Koombana.

[a very corny poem by 'DRYBLOWER' follows]


According to McNab's "Catechism of the Law of Storms," cyclones may be either circular or incurving, and the latter is regarded as being the more dangerous owing to the more frequent changes of the wind at any position at any given position in the cyclone. A circular cyclone has the wind blowing around a small vortex or centre spot--which in time becomes larger as the cyclone grows--and is a region of calms, disturbed at times by terrific shifting squalls. One question asks--Why is there such a dread of the storm centre? And the answer is--Because in it a ship is liable to be overwhelmed by its tremendous pyramidal sea, aided by violent gusts of wind from different quarters, these having flat calms between them.

A cyclone may only move at a rate of 4 or 5 miles an hour, gradually increasing to 15 or 20 miles, but this does not mean the speed of the wind around the centre, which may be up to 100 miles an hour. Owing to the revolving nature of the cyclones different vessels in it may have different winds. Cyclones increase from five or six miles diameter in latitudes 10 deg. to 500 miles in latitude 25 or 30, and even to 1000 miles in lower[sic] latitudes.

The centre and the hinder part of the storm is the worst, that latter being where the storm has just passed over. The centre has a peculiar sea of its own, the water rising in great pyramidal heaps and literally throwing itself about in all directions, making it difficult for a ship to live. The signs of an approaching cyclone are--the weather becomes unsettled a day or two previously and a long rolling sea sets in from where the storm is. The barometer begins to fall, the thermometer to rise, as the atmosphere becomes more sultry, and ultimately the appearance of a dense bank of cloud betokens that the dread visitor is at hand. As it draws near the wind rapidly freshens and seems to be tearing great ragged pieces of cloud from the bank. The sea now begins to run higher and cross, the sky presenting a wild and terrifying appearance, while the true hurricane wind comes in ever increasing squalls. When fairly involved the ship will find herself in a dreadful war with the elements, sea and sky literally mingled together, the wind coming in irresistible gusts in rapid succession with a whole gale from broken stowage. In some cyclones there is much lightning, but the thunder is inaudible amidst the roar of the storm.

According to theory the centre space should be calm, but experience has proved that this is not always so. In it one may encounter terrific gusts from any point with calms between, while the sea boils and rises in great pyramidal heaps. It is reckoned dangerous to run in any cyclone with the wind dead aft, highly so if in the dangerous quadrant or if in any portion of an incurving storm. The "Barometer Manual" advises that when the ship lies in the direct line of the advance of the storm, the most dangerous of all - run. And in all cases act so as to increase as soon as possible the distance from the centre, bearing in mind that the whole storm field is advancing.

The gentleman who loaned us the "catechism" remarks - "Richardson says in the West Australian there is no hard and fast rule. What nonsense! The Koombana as last seen by the Bullarra was in the dangerous quadrant, and the instructions are you must not let the centre pass over you. Therefore the Koombana should have run south-west to escape. When one sees in cold print this talk about "plugging through" it makes one exasperated at such ignorance."


The frequency of these appalling disasters during recent years is beginning to get on the nerves of the travelling public, and it is about time that the Federal Government woke up to the fact that it is their business to inquire into the causes and institute preventive measures. A little over two years ago the Blue Funnel liner Waratah disappeared in a wild storm off the South African coast, and not a scrap of her has ever been found since. She had over 300 persons on board, many of whom were Australians making the trip to the Old Country, so that her loss brought widespread sorrow throughout Australasia.

The Waratah was a 12,000-ton boat, well built and strong, but it was notorious that she was too high out of the water. There is convincing testimony to the fact that she had what is known as a "list," and that she was very dead in righting herself when rolling heavily. Her owners pooh-poohed the idea that she was unsafe, but several members of her crew left at Sydney because they were frightened to travel in her, and it is alleged that her captain declared that he had drawn attention to her suspicious behaviour. Yet she was allowed to go to sea with over 300 people on board who went to a tragic and watery grave.

Just under 12 months ago the Yongala went down off the coast of Northern Queensland in a furious storm. It is possible she was driven onto a jag of the Great Barrier Reef. The Yongala was a vessel of some 5,000 tons, and took about 200 people down with her. She left the port of Mackay on the Queensland coast, and that was the last seen of her till fragments were afterwards recovered off Townsville.

Now we have the Koombana, which is missing after encountering one of the fiercest cyclones known on the North-West coast of W.A. She was 4399 tons register, and was 100 yards long and 40 feet wide. The steamer was built in Glasgow about two years ago, and has been running on the North-West line most of her career. From the very outset she had bad luck and got stuck on a sand bank in Shark Bay on one of her first trips. On several occasions since she has had mishaps, and some people who are not at all superstitious would not travel by her. Others maintained that she was far too much out of the water, and did not relish her for that reason. It is to be hoped that at the inevitable inquiry particular attention will be devoted to the question whether vessels of the Koombana type are safe. More we do not care to say until the fate of the vessel is definitely decided.

It is curious that the Yongala and Koombana disasters should have occurred on almost the same dates with 12 months between them, and it is also a coincidence that in each case the calamity took place on about the 22nd parallel of latitude. It is almost precisely on the same spot, only on opposite sides of the continent, which seems to be the centre of danger zone in the Australian tropics.