33["No Tidings", The West Australian, Monday 01 April 1912, page 7]






Hope is dying fast. Ten days have now gone since the terrible Nor'-West gale and still no tidings have filtered through of the whereabouts of the Koombana and the 140 souls aboard her. Each day only serves to deepen the mystery and to increase the gloomy forebodings of those to whom her fate means so much. So sudden and so complete a disappearance of so large a vessel and at such a time could only awaken the gravest fears for her safety, and now that there have been so many fruitless attempts to find her, and that practically every likely theory has been examined and finally cast aside, it seems difficult to believe that she may yet be discovered above water. But there are those who remain firmly of the belief that "no news is good news," and who accept as a hopeful augury that in spite of the close search that has been made in the very locality where the storm was at its worst and through which it was expected the Koombana had passed, no wreckage of any kind has been discovered that could be identified with her. It is also suggested that there is good reason to hope that she became disabled in the storm and that she is even now quietly drifting in mid-ocean awaiting the arrival of a salvage steamer. All through yesterday and the preceding day inquiries continued in the city in endless succession, and in many of the churches yesterday, prayers were offered for the safety of all on board.

While every step is being taken by those on the spot to find at least some trace of the Koombana, the Government have likewise left no stone unturned to supplement what is being done. Indeed, the manager of the Adelaide Steamship Co. (Mr. W. E. Moxon) has, on behalf of the company, expressed his hearty appreciation of the prompt action which has been taken by members of the Cabinet. It must also be gratifying to those in the Nor'-West whose friends and relatives are on the missing steamer to know that in the city, over a thousand miles away, their fears and anxieties are so keenly realised by those in authority.

One of the first orders given by the Premier on Saturday was for the despatch from Geraldton of the steamer Una, fully provisioned and equipped, with instructions to make a systematic search for the Koombana. That same morning Mr. Scaddan telegraphed the Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) to the effect that the Bullarra and several luggers had returned to Broome with the intelligence that they had nothing to report. The telegram went on to say the Government would be glad if Mr. Fisher would arrange for the immediate despatch of the trawler Endeavour from Port Adelaide with a view to making an exhaustive examination, and would state as early as possible how soon she would reach Fremantle. To this telegram on Saturday evening the Premier received a reply from the Prime Minister saying that he had requested the Minister for Customs to despatch the Endeavour without delay, as requested.

At 1 o'clock yesterday morning the Premier received the following message from Broome by the courtesy of the Eastern Extension Cable Co.:--"The Gorgon sighted at Broome - signalled 'No News.'"

The people of Broome have also been putting their heads together, and as the outcome of their deliberations the Resident Magistrate (Mr. G. T. Wood) and the Mayor (Mr. Norman) sent the following message to the Premier on Saturday:-

"After consultation with master mariners and the master of the Bullarra we consider it advisable that the Government should endeavour to induce the Adelaide Steamship Company to issue instructions to the Bullarra to discharge her cattle here, arrange if necessary to obtain coal supplies from the Gorgon, and proceed to a position off Turtle Island, bearing east six miles, from which point she might commence a systematic search across the track of the storm as follows:--From the point of departure proceed due west 75 miles, then due north 15 miles, then due east 75 miles, then due north 15 miles, and so on for six consecutive days, the search only to be conducted during daylight and with an officer at the masthead."

Immediately upon receipt of the message a conference was held between the Chief Harbourmaster (Captain Irvine) representing the Premier, and Mr. W. E. Moxon, representing the Adelaide Steamship Company, as the outcome of which it was decided to follow the suggestion. Another message was accordingly at once despatched to Broome conveying authority for all the necessary arrangements to be made to carry out the plan.