Nationality: Australian

Vessel type: Twin screw steamer

Date lost: Friday 30/11/1934

Cause of loss: Overwhelmed by exceptional storm and capsized

Number of Casualties: All 16 crew

Discovery date: 29/5/2011

Location/water depth: Off Phillip Island, Western Port Bay, Victoria at 62 metres

The violent storm in late November 1934 was the worst ever seen at the Rip. The small steamer Coramba left Warrnambool in fine weather, but ten hours later, without radio warning, was overtaken and unable to enter Port Phillip. Overdue, sea and aerial searches could not find her.

Wreckage and 3 bodies on Phillip Island indicated a disaster. All 17 crew were drowned, the ship sunk somewhere. Diver Johnstone dragged the floor, and found evidence to claim the location to be close to Seal Rocks, at 40 metres, but no salvage (or positive identification) was performed.

In May, 2011, Southern Ocean Explorers dived on an anomaly 16 kilometres from the Rocks, and found the broken hull 62 metres below, 76 years after the Coramba sank below the waves.


Second time unlucky

Three Coramba crewmen survived the Casino loss, two years earlier.

Widow Foley lost her 22 year old son, her husband having drowned on Casino. George Newlands had made the beach supported on wreckage, while Jack Bellairs swam to shore from the upturned hull. But their luck was out, trapped in the foc’sle as the vessel capsized.

TSS Coramba ships’ bell, Port Fairy Historical Society

TSS Coramba life preserver, Port Fairy Historical Society


Objects of interest (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the shipwreck story.


  • Vessel at sea and in Moyne river
  • Ship’s bell  
  • Life preserver  
  • Wreck (underwater, 2011)

AMMC Member Institution

Port Fairy Historic Lifeboat Station

submitted by Marten Syme

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