Nemesis | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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On Friday the 8th of July 1904 the Nemesis, under control of Captain Lusher, left Newcastle for Melbourne with her hold full of coal and coke. The vessel immediately ran into a southerly gale and was last sighted by the S.S. Marloo off Wollongong. At some point Nemesis appeared to have turned or was driven back towards Sydney, as a vessel in distress was sighted off Port Hacking that night (Sydney Morning Herald, 13 July, 1904). Rockets were also seen off Port Hacking and wreckage later observed washing ashore at Cronulla Beach. Thirty-two hands were lost in the incident.  Part of the steering wheel was later recovered on Cronulla Beach and over days and weeks, a number of bodies washed ashore around Cronulla Beach. Some could not be identified.

The 73.4-metre Nemesis was built at Whitby, United Kingdom, in 1881. The 1393-ton single screw steamer with an iron hull was powered by a compound engine. The vessel could reach speeds of 12 knots. The Nemesis was registered in Melbourne under Huddart Parker Ltd with the intention of concentrating on the coal trade from Newcastle. Huddart Parker then rented wharf space in Darling Harbour and its vessels began carrying cargo from Melbourne to Sydney only.  Huddart Parker fitted the collier with accommodation of an intermediate standard, not as expensive as first class, but better than steerage (Plowman 1981). From  August 1890, the Nemesis operated to Western Australia during the 1890s gold rushes (Parsons 1918). She remained as a passenger carrier till the last years of the century when she was relegated to collier status.

The wreck known internally at Heritage NSW initially as the Unidentified Wreck Off Wollongong 165m deep was discovered and subsequently reported by Ed Korber (Subsea Professional Marine Services) in May 2022. ROV footage collected by Subsea in 2021 provided initial details of features around the midships and bow sections.   

Early attempts to undertake fieldwork inspections of the site were organised by Heritage NSW in conjunction with Subsea Professional Marine Services, which included establishing the exact location, height/ depth orientation and extent of the sites debris field in July and August 2023. 
Drop camera footage was collected by the CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator in September 2023 during voyage IN2023_E03 at the request of Heritage NSW. This activity was conducted as a piggyback project on the voyage and supported by an allocation of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility. This footage was supplemented by earlier ROV footage taken of the site by Subsea in 2021. 

An interim report was undertaken by Heritage NSW Senior Maritime Archaeologist (Dr Brad Duncan) in October 2023 and was designed to provide preliminary indications as to whether the wreck was/ wasn’t the wreck of the SS Nemesis. The report consists of predominantly visual identification of distinct site features of the Unidentified Wreck off Wollongong. After careful consideration and comparison of the archaeological evidence with historical documentations, it appears highly likely that the wreck may be that of the SS Nemesis which sank somewhere off Wollongong in 1904.  Although it is highly probable that the wreck discovered is this vessel, definitive proof of its identity was not available, especially as the design of many ships of the Huddart Parker line were nearly identical. However, the main sheer strake appears to be either a repair or reinforcement plate (possibly used as a rubbing strake).  This is highly distinctive and unusual, and it may be this band that positively identifies the vessel as the Nemesis with a high degree of certainty.  The report compared features in both video surveys of the site and it concluded that the wreck is highly likely to be the SS Nemesis. 

Further opportunistic inspection of the site is required to further conclusively identify the vessel, using more specific relics which were not identified in the drop camera footage (e.g. ships plates or other relics with the ship or company logo, or even the ships bell).    

The report is available online (see link below - the report will will be available 26 February 2024).

Heritage NSW is seeking to contact relatives of the following officers and crew who perished on the wreck:


Captain Alexander Jacob Lusher, 48, Captain, England

T.A Renaut, 30, chief mate, England

W.D. Stein, 27, second mate, England

S. Lindlater, 34, third mate, Orkney Islands (body identified)

Guy (William) Warner, 23, First Engineer, England

J. Morrison, 30, Second Engineer, Newcastle (body identified)

R. Woolhouse, 43, Third Engineer, England


N. McLeod, 31, Lamptrimmer & A.B., Greenock (Sydney)

B Birkeland, 23, A.B., Norway

W. Coull, 30, A.B., Scotland (body identified)

J. Dursbley, 45, A.B., Liverpool

T. Hales, 28, A.B., Ireland

W. Hay, 38, A.B., Banff

R. Vanderyen, 23, A.B., British Guinea

Mollyneaux, 17, ordinary seaman, New Zealand

James Lochhead, 39, Carpenter, Glasgow

E. Strachan, 37, Donkeyman, Scotland (Melbourne)

T. Bonner, 30, fireman, London

C. Currie, 33, fireman, Ireland

H. Jenkins, 30, fireman, Melbourne

D. Johnson, 22, fireman, Melbourne

J. King, 29, fireman, Albany, WA

A. Russell, 30, fireman, Sydney

F. Brown, 42, chief steward, Yarmouth

A. Oakleigh, 32, second steward, Ireland

M. Holder, 30, pantryman, London

Mrs M. Hyland, 56, stewardess, Canada

B. Ormiston, 20, messroom steward, Sydney

G. Page, 53, chief cook, Liverpool

G. Gordon, 43, second cook, Liverpool

A. Corrigan, 18, boy, Sydney

photo: Wreckage ashore from Nemesis.
Wreckage ashore from Nemesis.
photo: Nemesis. Courtesy: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.
Nemesis. Courtesy: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

File:Comparative Analysis of Features of Unidentified 167 m deep Wreck off Wollongong to SS Nemesis Pt 4 - Interim Report by Dr Brad Duncan, Senior Maritime Archaeologist, Heritage NSW. November 2023.

File:Comparative Analysis of Features of Unidentified 167 m deep Wreck off Wollongong to SS Nemesis Pt 3 - Interim Report by Dr Brad Duncan, Senior Maritime Archaeologist, Heritage NSW. November 2023.


Site information

Site ID: 890
Type: Steamer screw Construction: Iron
Primary industry: Transport Sub-industry: cargo - coastal
Gross tonnage: 1393 Net tonnage: 886
Length (mtrs): 73.21 Beam (mtrs): 10.37
Draft (mtrs): 5.471 Cargo: Coal/coke
Engine: Compound
Country built: UNITED KINGDOM State built:
Port built: Whitby builder: Thomas Turnbull and Son
Port registered: Melbourne When built: 1880
Registration number: 59/1881 Official number: 82666
Sources: SMH 13/7, 14/7, 11/8/1904; 15/2/1905 RBS Lloyd's Register 1904-5

Lost event

When lost: 1904/07/09 Where lost: off Port Kembla
Wrecked/Refloated: Wrecked Sinking: Gale, southerly
From port: Newcastle To port: Melbourne
Master: Owner:
Crew: 32 Passengers:
Crew deaths: Passenger deaths:
Total deaths: 32


Maximum latitude: -34.4928366667 Minimum latitude:
Maximum longitude: 151.19773 Minimum longitude:
Datum used: WGS84
  Datum    Latitude    Longitude    Zone    Easting    Northing
AGD66 -34.49284170242900 151.19773000000000 56 334521.15500086400000 6181709.10980612000000
AGD84 -34.49284170242900 151.19773000000000 56 334521.15500086400000 6181709.10980612000000
GDA94 -34.49283670159070 151.19773000000000 56 334521.74614913000000 6181722.91591527000000
WGS84 -34.49283670070970 151.19773000000000 56 334521.74614826000000 6181722.91590822000000


Found: Yes Inspected: Yes
Protected: Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 Jurisdiction: Federal
Protection notes:
Signage: Web address: