Nationality: Australian (built in Scotland)
Vessel type: Collier, iron paddle steamer
Date lost: 15th July 1877
Cause of loss: Foundered during a gale
Number of Casualties: 18 (all hands)
Discovery date (if applicable): [n/a]
Location/water depth: Stockton Bight (1km north of Newcastle harbour, NSW) / 13.7m
7am, Sunday 15th July 1877
A fierce gale was raging as the paddle steamer Yarra Yarra attempted to enter Newcastle harbour. Having departed Newcastle fully laden with coal the day before, she’d turned back to avoid the worsening storm. She hadn’t escaped and now, watched by anxious crowds on shore, she struggled to survive.
Newcastle’s lifeboat was first-class and the signal gun had already fired to summon its crew. The harbour’s water was calm but there was confusion about deployment procedures. It wasn’t clear who could authorise firing the second signal gun that would order the boat out. The lifeboat wasn’t launched.
Swamped by huge waves, the Yarra Yarra was driven north to the dreaded Oyster Bank and beyond. She sank rapidly and all hands were lost.
Newcastle was anguished, angry and ashamed that 18 men could die in sight of safety, seemingly without anyone lifting a finger to help.
A humane legacy
Objects of interest (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the shipwreck story.
Artwork, oil on board
Painted by Terry Callen (local historian and artist), 1975
250H x 305mm
Tallow lubricator, cast brass
Llewellins & James (maker), Bristol
345H x 275 x 185mm
Engine fitting, brass
170H x 83mm diameter
Cylinder head cover, No. 57, cast bronze
Caird & Co,, Greenock, 1851
110H x 530mm diameter
AMMC Member Institution
Newcastle Maritime Museum
submitted by Geoffrey Hindmarsh
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