About 2000 vessels have been lost along the News South Wales coast and inland rivers. These represent a wide range of vessel types.
The types of vessels paints a picture of how goods, produce and people travelled locally and overseas.
The following list represents major classes of vessels which operated until the early 1900s. Examples of these that have been shipwrecked can provide an exciting range of diving experiences.
|Ship, Full-Rigged |
(Dunbar 1853-1857, Wrecked Port Jackson)
A vessel with three masts (foremast, mainmast and mizzen mast), each fitted with a topmast, top-gallant-mast and royal mast. Each mast is square-rigged, ie each mast carries yards on which square sails are set.
(Edward Lombe 1828-1834, Wrecked Port Jackson)
A vessel with three masts, with the two foremost masts square rigged as in a ship. The after, or mizzen mast has no yards, is fitted with a topmast only, and is fore and aft rigged (Note: also spelt Bark).
(Amphitrite 1867-1891, Wrecked Port Stephens)
A vessel with three masts (fore mast, main mast and mizzen mast) the foremast only is square-rigged, the main and mizzen mast are fitted with topmasts, and are fore and aft rigged.
(Rosa ?-1853, South Head, Wrecked Port Jackson)
A vessel with two masts (foremast and mainmast), square rigged on both masts as in the two foremost masts of a full-rigged ship or barque.
(Hilander 1850-1872, Wrecked Richmond River)
A vessel with two masts (foremast and mainmast), the foremast being square-rigged, and the after or mainmast fore and aft rigged. This mast carries a boom-sail (but not always a boom), called a mainsail, and is fitted with a topmast carrying a gaff-topsail.
(Rover 1841-1841, Wrecked Broulee Bay)
A vessel with two long masts, without tops, fore and aft rigged on both. Schooners can have between two and five masts.
Schooner - right
(Titania 1855-1879, Wrecked Brunswick River)
A vessel with two masts, main and mizzen, both fore and aft rigged. The steering wheel or helm is placed aft of the mizzen mast.
Ketch - left
(Brothers 1840-1845, Wrecked Broken Bay)
The cutter carries one mast, setting a fore-and-aft mainsail, stay foresail, flying jib and topsail. The name cutter applies as much to the sharp build of the vessel's hull as to the particular rig.
Cutter - centre
(Panic of 66 1866-1870, Wrecked Tweed Heads)
A vessel like the schooner, but with a square topsail on the fore mast.
Top sail schooner
The examples depicted here have been selected to provide an overall indication of the variations of steamship configurations represented by those wrecked on the New South Wales coast. These include passenger and general cargo vessels, carriers of bulk cargoes and service vessels. In addition, the selection includes stern and side mounted paddle wheelers together with screw driven vessels with engines mounted aft or amid ships.
The great range of steamer types is a reflection on the diversity of overseas trades and the different types of cargoes carried. As Walton (1926) explains, a merchant ship can generally be distinguished as one in the passenger, cargo, or combined passenger and cargo trades, but from a technical viewpoint will possess certain distinctive structural features appropriate for the particular service.
A steamer may be described by its rig, the number of propellers, the kind of engines fitted and by the nature of the fuel used. However, steamers are commonly described by the number of their decks and the general description of the structure above the principal deck. For a detailed explanation of deck variations, see Walton (1926).
|Paddle Steamer, Side Paddles, Passengers and General Cargo|
(PS Ballina 1865-1879, Wrecked Port Macquarie). The Ballina's clipper hull and auxilliary sails represent a carry over from the era of sailing ships.
|Single Screw Steamer, collier, engines aft|
SS Duckenfield 1875-1889, Wrecked Long Reef, Sydney).
|Single Screw, Steamer, Passenger|
(SS Merimbula 1909-1928 Wrecked Beecroft Head, Currarong). Coal fired, passenger and general cargo.
|Twin Screw, Steamer, General Cargo, engines amidships|
(TSS John Penn 1867-1879, Wrecked Broulee Bay)
tss John Penn
|Motor Steamer, Passenger |
(MS Malabar 1925-1931, Wrecked Long Bay, Sydney). Diesel fueled, passenger and general cargo.
|Stern Paddle Wheeler, Drogher|
(Notional vessel with configuration similar to the Bellbird, abandoned at Taree c.1973), Riverine, general transport vessel.
Side Paddle Wheeler, Steam Tug
(PS Commodore 1878-1931, Wrecked Newcastle)
Ship drawings by Dean Claflin
Page last updated: 31 August 2012