HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

26 January 2016

“I thought she was gone”

The S.S. Allowrie – the life and times of this stout little steamer.

S.S. Allowrie, Illawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd

The S.S. Allowrie
Built in Gladscow in 1880 the Allowrie measured 179ft 4inches x 24ft 8 inches x 16ft hold,  she weighed 504ton, was made of  steel and was a two funnel vessel,  The Allowrie was designed for carrying passengers and cargo, including livestock and dairy produce.
Owned by the Illawarra Steam Ship Company the S.S. Allowrie was a well known coastal steamer to south coast ports.
During her working life she made countless uneventful journeys between the north coast port of Nelligen and the far south coast port of Tathra.   Like many coastal steamers working the open seas along the east coast, she had her share of mishaps and adventures.

Some of her reported incidents.

The fate of the Allowrie,  for the first time in her history hung in the balance.
During a great storm that hit the coast the Allowrie was within an ace of giving the gale a name.  When making a hard struggle against the fury of the elements the steamer shipped an immense green sea which completely buried the forepart of the vessel for an unusual length of time,  and caused her to vibrate from stem to stern.  The passengers were below at the time,  and in view of the threatening nature of the weather,  every door and port hole was closed in case of emergency.  Only the captain and officers were on the bridge,  the former exercising the greatest vigilance in his battle against a storm which raged with all the fury of a hurricane.  When abreast of the Shoalhaven Heads and while the vessel was heading for Jervis Bay,  where shelter could be obtained,  the green sea in question came aboard,  and the fate of the Allowrie,  for the first time in her history,  hung in the balance. The great wall of water held the stout little ship under, as if to smother her,  but gradually her head lifted through the angry waters,  and the captain and his men were relieved of a painful suspense. The captain speaking of the incident afterwards said. "I thought she was gone."  The passengers heard the sea come aboard but they little dreamt of the perilous position they were in.

1897She took the passenger from the wrecked steamer S.S Kameruka back to Sydney.  The Kameruka was a total loss after hitting the reef at Pedro Point near Moruya.

1889 - She sustained a large hole in her bow after running into a pier in Wollongong Harbour and had to be beached for repairs.

1900 a 63 year old passenger suffocated on board in front of his wife and fellow passengers, the autopsy showed he had a piece of meat caught in his wind pipe.

1900 During a full force gale the Allowrie went to the assistance of the 4 masted Drumalis which was drifting helplessly in close proximity to the rocks in Wreck Bay.  - Continue reading about the Drumalis from a previous post.

1903 - Despite  many doubting it could be done by such a large vessel, she successfully negotiated the Shoalhaven River,  well known at the time for it's sand bars and rocks,  she docked at Nowra Wharf in front of a large gathering of onlookers.

1903 - Trying to repeat her previous Shoalhaven River journey, she ran aground on a sand bar near Greewell Point, the ship was undamaged and was later successfully pulled free by the dredge Altleon, she finished her journey without further incident.

1907 During one of her trips south she encountered very heavy seas,  tossed about quite severely she was lucky to escape disaster after one of her propellers had all  it's blades stripped clean off the shaft,  she limped into Botany Bay for safety.

1908 – She struck an unmarked reef at the entrance to Batemans Bay and lost two of the blades off the starboard propellar,  she refused to answer the helm and went aground on the mud bank,  the steamer Moruya came to her assistance and towed her off.

1908 - On a trip to Tathra one of her crew was sleeping on a pile of timber on the deck,  the ship lurched and he was tossed over board and despite an extensive search was never seen again.

1910 the Allowrie was out of service,  in the later half that year she was dismantled,  leaving nothing but a hulk.


“Allowrie”  Aboriginal word meaning  “pleasant place near the sea” or “high place near the sea”


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