Port Phillip Steamers|
In the early years of the colony of Victoria
shipping was an important, and often the only mode of transport between
Melbourne and the developing coastal towns. Sail and steam powered vessels of
various sizes and types plied their trade from the mid 19th century.
With the 1850s gold rush the demand for shipping grew especially between
Melbourne and Geelong, and more services were introduced.
Port Phillip shipping operators included Howard
Smith, Huddart Parker, Bay Excursions Co and Bay Steamers Ltd. Ships from
overseas were brought into service for the steamer trade. The paddle steamers,
designed for Port Phillip conditions, were mostly built at Glasgow.
The most famous Port Phillip steamers were the SS
Edina, PS Ozone, PS Hygeia and PS Weeroona. The paddle
steamers sailed out from England under their own steam via Suez Canal, the East Indies,
Torres Strait and down the east coast to Port Phillip.
and cargo services operated between Melbourne and ports around Port Phillip
including Snapper Point, Sorrento, Portsea and Queenscliff. On Corio Bay
services operated between Melbourne, Geelong and Portarlington. The steamer
trade contributed to the growth of these towns, with grand hotels built near the
In holiday periods steamer excursion services
carried large groups for club and company picnic outings and special events.
Picnic grounds became established near most steamer piers and many
entertainments were on offer. Steamer piers were built at other popular picnic
areas such as Point Henry and Dromana.
Steamer patronage declined with the advent of
railways, the motor car and the improvement in roads down the Bellarine &
Mornington peninsulas. World War II contributed to the decline and by 1943 all
steamer services had ceased.
In the Museum are displays illustrating
aspects of the steamer trade; these include:
models display has recently been
enhanced in 2 ways. The models
now stand on glass shelves supported by stainless steel tubes. Beneath the
models is a display to illustrate the steamer services and the shipping
companies which operated them. The ships?#8364;™ china relics which the Museum has
acquired over the years have been cleaned, identified and documented. Most of
the china was made in the UK, and we were able to use the comprehensive
Staffordshire potteries website for this research. The china display is
interspersed with illustrations of steamer activity reproduced from our
photograph, postcard and map archive.
steamer artefacts include
promenade deck seats from SS Edina and PS Hygeia and a marvellous
carved and painted wooden crest from the port side paddle box of the PS
SS EDINA; 380 tons,
171 feet long
Built in 1854
as a 3-masted sailing ship with auxiliary steam power the Edina sailed
the North Sea and North Atlantic. She ran the Melbourne-Warrnambool-Portland
service from 1863, and also took passengers to the New Zealand gold rush.
Howard Smith & Co bought her in 1875 for the Melbourne-Portarlington-Geelong passenger and
cargo service which she ran for 63 years. In 1927 she was regarded as the
world's oldest continuously operating steamer.
During her long career the Edina was involved in many incidents, colliding with
ships and marine installations, and suffered the occasional grounding.
She was repaired, modified and
refitted several times, and finished up with one mast. Converted to a lighter
in 1938 she operated around the Port of Melbourne until 1957 when she was broken
986 tons, 300 feet long
Built in 1890 by
Napier, Shanks & Bell of Glasgow for Huddart Parker & Co. She was built to
compete directly with the popular PS Ozone, and was generally regarded as
one of the fastest and finest appointed paddle steamers ever built for
Australian service with a top speed in excess of 22 knots.
carry 1,600 passengers she operated regular excursion trips each summer between
Melbourne, Queenscliff and Sorrento for 40 years and was often chartered for
company picnics and special events.
1412 tons, 310 feet 6 inches long
Built in Glasgow
in 1910 by AS Inglis for the Huddart Parker subsidiary Bay Steamers Ltd.
With a capacity
for 1,900 passengers she was the last and largest of the purpose-built Port
Phillip Steamers and remained in service until 1942 when she was purchased by
the US Navy. She was
resumed by the
Government in 1945 and dismantled in Berrys Bay, NSW in 1951.