The Wimmera had a number of close encounters with other vessels. Amongst those mishaps reported were collisions with the Balmain New Ferry Co’s S/S Lady Mary on 3 November 1908, the steamer Hunter on 19 July 1910, the S/S Alva on 7 October 1911, the Balmain ferry steamer Lady Manning on 4 October 1912, the coal hulk Coromandel on 21 November 1912, the S/S Clan Campbell on 29 November 1912 and the S/S Werribee on 21 August 1913. Although some of these incidents were caused by the other vessels, occasionally the fault lay with the Wimmera’s own captain or crew.
Lady Mary (1908)
In Sydney on 3rd November 1908, under command of Captain Burkitt:
“Whilst shifting from sheir legs – no steam or main engines, tugs “Game Cock” & “Port Jackson” attending collided with Balmain New Ferry Co’s S/S “Lady Mary”. When turning the ship in very limited space, a hard N.W. squall came down forcing the ship ahead in spite of tug’s efforts to stop her, result being that “Wimmera”‘s stern touched the ?betting? of “Lady Mary” which was lying doubled off two or three other ferry steamers. After adjusting compasses at same shift, the buoy used for the purpose capsized ship’s boat & passed under Wimmera’s bottom.
The comments recorded against this incident indicated fault:
Capt Burkitt does not seem to have quite grasped the situation when shifting the “Wimmera”. He had two tugs to assist him & was not aware that one tug was not fast alongside, until he instructed the tug to use his engines to assist the “Wimmera” – then he discovered the tug had not lines attached to the Wimmera. I am of the opinion the damage to “Lady Mary” was preventable.
The incident was also reported by the local press:
SLIGHT HARBOUR COLLISION
A shipping mishap of minor importance occurred on Tuesday afternoon, resulting in slight damage to the Balmain New Ferry Company’s steamer Lady Mary. The vessel was tied up at the company’s works, Waterview Bay when the steamer Wimmera, belonging to Messrs. Huddart, Parker, and Co., was passing down from Mort’s Dock. It is stated that the Wimmera swung round and touched the Lady Mary, carrying away part of the railing on her port side.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, November 6, 1908
The Lady Mary was not the only Sydney ferry to collide with the Wimmera.
SS Hunter (1910)
On 19 July 1910 Sydney and other coastal areas of New South Wales received a battering from a strong gale. Besides damage and flooding inland, the effects were also felt in the harbour and waterways – with strandings, loosed moorings, vessels adrift, damaged and sunk. In Darling Harbour, the Wimmera was moored at the Company’s wharf when the Newcastle and Hunter River Company’s steamer Hunter drifted and collided with the Wimmera. The collision took away a bulwark door whilst the Hunter incurred some damage to her railings. The incident also caused a block to the Balmain Ferry traffic.
SS Atua (1911)
On Friday 6 October 1911 the Wimmera arrived at Sydney from Auckland under command of Captain Waller. On the following day, Saturday, the Wimmera departed for Newcastle. The Union Line’s T.S.S. Atua also departed Sydney for Newcastle that day. At 9.30pm that night at Newcastle the ‘SS Alua cast adrift from [the] berth ahead [of the Wimmera] and backed astern with engines and collided with port bow. Rails were bent and broken about 10 ft.’
Lady Manning (1912)
Another of the Balmain Ferries was also involved in a minor collision in October 1912:
COLLISION IN DARLING HARBOUR.
A collision occurred in Darling Harbor last evening between the steamer Wimmera, of Huddart, Parker, and Company’s line, and the Balmain ferry steamer Lady Manning.
The Wimmera, from New Zealand, entered the Heads at 8 o’clock last evening, and was berthing at Huddart, Parker, and Co.’s wharf, at the foot of Margaret -street. At the same time the Balmain ferry-boats Lady Northcote, bound for Bald Rock, and the Lady Manning, en route to Mort’s Dock, left the Erskine-street wharf on the 9 o’clock trip to Balmain. The Wimmera was manoeuvring off the wharf to straighten up for her berth, when the Lady Manning, in attempting to cross her bow, came into collision with the New Zealand boat. The Wimmera, it is stated, was moving slowly ahead at the time. The Lady Manning was hit on the sponson at the after gangway. The crash was distinctly heard by people on the wharf, and for a time some excitement prevailed. Passengers on the ferry-boat, numbering about 100, were also greatly alarmed, but their fears were soon allayed when it was seen that the damage was confined to the sponson. After getting clear the Lady Manning proceeded to Balmain, and landed her passengers safely. The Wimmera meanwhile berthed at the wharf.
The Daily Telegraph, Saturday, October 5, 1912
SS Clan Campbell (1912)
The Howard Smith’s Line steamer Clan Campbell (2600 tons) under command of J. Scott arrived in port of Sydney on 26 November 1912 before proceeding to Newcastle for coaling.
At 7.30pm on 29 November 1912 whilst the Wimmera was at Newcastle, under command of Captain Waller an…’Accident [was] caused through s/s “Clan Campbell” having a boat swung out over the side, contrary to Harbour regulations. “S.S. Wimmera” by orders from office doubled off “s/s “Clan Campbell.” A strong ebb tide was running and strong N’ly wind and being dark the boat over ‘Clan Campbell’s’ side was not noticed till accident could not be avoided. 12 to 14 ft. of gunwale of “Clan Campbell’s” life boat broken, and 8 to 10 feet of railing and one staunchion broken on s/s “Wimmera.” [£10 damage]
Huddart Parker Casualties Book, v2 folio 164
Both vessels departed the port the following day. The Howard Smith’s Line Clan Campbell sailed for Melbourne and the Wimmera for Sydney prior to…
SS Merimbula (1917)
In the Huddart Parker Minute Book (No. 2 1917-1923) it was recorded that the SS Merimbula had collided with the Wimmera at Sydney on 8th July 1917 and that both vessels had sustained damage, and that it had been found necessary to dock the Wimmera for repairs which would probably take two days to effect.
© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021