SS Cawarra

The SS Cawarra was a paddle-steamer that sank on 12 July 1866 in Newcastle harbour, New South Wales, Australia sending sixty people to their deaths.[1][5][6] The sinking was one of the worst maritime disasters in Australian history.

Cawarra thumbnail.jpg
New South WalesNew South Wales
OwnerAustralasian Steam Navigation Company
OperatorAustralasian Steam Navigation Company
BuilderA. & J. Inglis Pointhouse Glasgow, Scotland [3]
Yard number14
Launched2 June 1864
Out of service12 July 1866
FateFoundered in Newcastle harbour on 12 July 1866 with the loss of 60 lives[1][2]
General characteristics
Tons burthen439 [4]
Length64.28 m (211 ft)
Beam7.665 m (25 ft)
Draft3.688 m (12 ft)
Complement36 crew, 25 passengers
Plaque on Stockton breakwall commemorating the Cawarra
Location of Cawarra on Stockton breakwall in relation to other wrecks

Owned by the Australasian Steam Navigation Company, the Brisbane-bound passenger vessel had become caught in rough seas off the east coast of Australia during storms that sank 14 other ships and resulted in 77 deaths between Port Stephens in the north and Sydney in the south. As the ship entered Newcastle harbour to take shelter it was overwhelmed by huge waves and sank, bow first, before thousands of onlookers who had gathered along the harbour shoreline to watch the stricken passenger ship. Its wreckage was recovered and, after removal of items of value, it was dumped on the Oyster Bank.

While only one passenger survived the sinking, 60 people were already dead.

"Several hours later, the lighthouse-keeper sighted a survivor and with his assistant James Johnson, who had been the sole survivor of the Dunbar wreck, launched a boat and brought the man ashore... Ordinary seaman [Frederick V[4]] Hedges had grabbed a plank as the ship sank and was eventually washed more dead than alive against a harbour buoy."[5]: p46

The wreck today sits beneath the wreckage of three more vessels that have since foundered in the harbour. Along with other wrecks they were used in the construction of the Stockton breakwall where plaques commemorate the loss of each of the ships including the Cawarra.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Hunter History Highlights". Hunter Valley Research Foundation. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  2. ^ "Descendants of Henry FULHAM". Brian Spalding. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  3. ^ Shipping Times: Launched 1864 – PS Cawarra
  4. ^ a b "Mariners and ships in Australian Waters CAWARRA". State Records Authority of NSW. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  5. ^ a b Loney J K Wrecks on the New South Wales Coast (At Google Books)
  6. ^ "WRECK OF THE STEAMER CAWARRA". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 13 July 1866. p. 5. Retrieved 14 December 2013.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 32°54′52″S 151°47′48″E / 32.91444°S 151.79667°E / -32.91444; 151.79667