SS Yongala

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Date: 21 Oct 2019 [unknown]
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Surnames/tags: Queensland Shipwreck Disaster
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S.S. Yongala. 1911.



  • The S.S. Yongala, on her 99th voyage, en route to Cairns with 122 passengers, she was caught in a cyclone off the coast of Ayr, in Bowling Green Bay, on her way to Townsville, on the 23rd March 1911, with no survivors. If she had not been delayed she would have made port before the cyclone hit. The Yongala was rediscovered in 1958. She is listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act.

Yongala's Bell.
  • On her way from Melbourne, Yongala docked in Brisbane, fresh passengers were loaded, including a Bull and the racehorse Moonshine, which, didn't take to being loaded on board easily, and was one of the reason's for the ship's delay in leaving port.


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  • I have been searching the Qld BMD....any with no parents named, don't have parents listed on ref. Crew not finished..3/2/2020.


Post Script. From the records of the Townsville Maritime Museum, I acknowledge this list of all Passengers and Crew, from S.S. Yongala who died when a cyclone struck the ship on the 23rd. of March 1911. No one survived.

First class saloon for Townsville.

1. Mr Matthew Rooney
2. Mrs Katherine Rooney
3. Miss Lizzie Rooney
4. Miss Ethel Amy Uhr, Matron, Townsville hospital, d/o Reginald Charles Heber Uhr and Mary Kathrine Tuach McKenzie.
5. Miss Jean Buxton, Nurse, Townsville hospital, d/o Matthew Buxton and Margaret Jones.
6. Mr John James Elsdale, s/o Alexander Hugh Elsdale and Anne Laird.
7. Mrs Annie Eileen Elsdale, d/o Patrick McCormick and Mary Edge.
8. Mr Rudolph August Stach, s/o Julius Ernest August Stach von Goltzheim and Mary Ann Mathews.
9. Mr Francis Fothergill Viney, s/o George Viney and Eliza Collins.
10. Miss Mary Josephine Carroll, d/o John William Carroll and Mary Eugenie Gorman.
11. Miss Mona Kathleen Shannon, d/o Patrick Shannon and Bridget Murtagh.
12. Mr Willie Lin, s/o Lum Shan Cheong.
13. Ms Emily Ada Davis, d/o Edward Shonesmith and Mathilda Mitchell.
14. Mr John Campbell, s/o Archibald Campbell and Ellen Phelan.
15. Mr Ernest Greenfield, s/o William Henry Greenfield and Ada Harriet Brown.
16. Mr Clifford James Harding O'Brien

For Cairns

17. Mrs Charlotte Louisa Davids, d/o Richard Frederick John Gore and Susan Jane Stephenson.
18. Mrs Alice Minna Murray, d/o David Arthur Sheppard and Matilda Brazier Kippin, (probably Amelia A., second daughter b. picton, nsw, 1887)
19. Master Ian Sheppard Murray, s/o Abijah Murray and Alice Minna Sheppard.
20. Master Alister Sheppard Murray, d/o Abijah Murray and Alice Minna Sheppard
21. Miss Jean Alexandra Sheppard Murray, d/o Abijah Murray and Alice Minna Sheppard.
22. Miss Ailsa Mary Sheppard Murray (Infant), d/o Abijah Murray and Alice Minna Sheppard.
23. Mrs Mary Ann Linedale (Maid)
24. Mr Stephen Symons Reath, s/o Joseph Reath and Annie Pearce.
25. Mrs Margaret Frances Reath, d/o John Casey and Margaret Welch.
26. Mr William James Fulton, s/o Thomas Fulton and Margaret Kelly.
27. Mr Albert Sutherland Dette, s/o Charles Frederick Dette and Divina Elizabeth Sutherland.
28. Mr T Parton
29. Mr Samuel Manwaring
30. Miss Mary Annie Woodward, listed as d/o Jeremiah Reading and Rachel Monday.
31. Mrs Hanora Gertrude Magee, d/o Daniel O'Mahony and Mary O'Keefe.

Second class for Townsville

32. Mr O F Thompson, listed as unnamed male Thomson.
33. Mr Charles Manbey, s/o Charles Manbey and Mary Ann Goulty.
34. Mrs Mary Ann Manbey, d/o John Goulty.
35. Mr W Barklay...reg not found.
36. Mr Octagavina Carrasco
37. Mr Jose Sareras
38. Mr Walter Francis Breckenridge, s/o Neil Torrens Breckenridge and Hannah Murphy.
39. Mr Ernst Schneider, s/o Albert Schneider and Katherine Bacuerle.
40. Mr Richard Thomas Coade, s/o John Coade and Mary Ann McKeown.
41. Mr Walter George Coade, s/o John Coade and Mary Ann McKeown.
42. Mr James John Sutherland, s/o Hugh Sutherland and Margaret McDonald.
43. Mr Fraser Sutherland, s/o James John Sutherland and Mary McKenzie.
44. Mr William Smith, s/o Robert Smith and Lucy Nicklin.

For Cairns

45. Mr James Dempsey Jolly, s/o Hugh Jolly and Agnes Melville Aitken.
46. Mr David Davies, s/o David Davies and Catherine Jones.
47. Mr Pianta, Antonia
48. Mr W H Griffiths
49. Mr E E Parkhurst


50. Mr William Knight
51. Mr Richard Williams, s/o David Williams and Alice Owen.
52. Mr Harry Briden Harden, s/o Thomas Harden and Julia Briden.
53. Mr D Cameron
54. Mr George Henry Jarvis
55. Mr Alexander Fleming Hamilton, s/o George Hamilton and Elizabeth Keys.
56. Mr John Finlay Donaldson, s/o David Donaldson and Elizabeth Finlay.
57. Mr Claude Levinge Miller, s/o Reginald Charles Miller and Adelaide Charlotte Ogilby.
58. Mr A Lawrance
59. Mr Edward Mawby, s/o Edward Mawby and Harriet Strong.
60. Mr G A Harris
61. Mr W D Millar
62. Mr E McKenzie
63. Mr J Roberts
64. Mr S W H Emerson
65. Ms A S English
66. Ms M Lambrick
67. Ms S Andrew
68. Ms A Rentoul
69. Mr J H Shipton
70. Mr G H Reid
71. Mr J Elliott
72. Mr V Cross
73. Mr D Morrison
74. Mr J W Sullivan
75. Mr J Ward
76. Mr J Craig
77. Mr J Finlay
78. Mr A O Armstrong
79. Mr J E Costello
80. Mr F J Wingrove
81. Mr R W Cooks
82. Mr A P W Gordon
83. Mr G H Fox
84. Mr J West
85. Mr R Robertson
86. Mr W H McPherson
87. Mr J Gemmell
88. Mr P McAdle
89. Mr P Rankin
90. Mr T Howard
91. Mr W Houston
92. Mr W D Murray
93. Mr F E Voight
94. Mr A Uggddahl
95. Mr H Todd
96. Mr F Medcalf
97. Mr J Diamond
98. Mr J Grumbledon
99. Mr J Narrie
100. Mr C A Davison
101. Mr A Lillico
102. Mr J F Gallagher
103. Mr E A Rickson
104. Mr J A Reich
105. Mr G Goldsmith
106. Mr J Calvin
107. Mr O V Nelson
108. Mr J McGinnis
109. Mr E O Jones
110. Mr W Boylan
111. Mr R Woods
112. Mr H C Gale
113. Mr E H Freeston
114. Mr P Walsh
115. Mr J Johnston
116. Mr J MacDonald
117. Mr V R McDougall
118. Mr W Paton
119. Mr J L McNamara
120. Mr C S Doyle
121 Mr H Lewis
122 Mr S Donachie


There are several ghost ship sightings of the Yongala.

Holbourne Island, thirty-five kilometres north of Bowen, is associated with the appearance of a ghost ship, sailing the waters where it met its doom. The Adelaide Steamship Company’s 3,644 ton vessel Yongala, commanded by Captain Knight, called at Mackay en route from Brisbane to Townsville. At 1.40 pm on 24 March 1911 it steamed out of Mackay harbour with forty-eight passengers and a crew of seventy-two on board. Minutes later the harbourmaster at Mackay received a report that a fierce tropical cyclone was bearing down on the coast, directly in the path of the Yongala. Without radio, it was impossible to warn the ship.

At 6.30 that evening the Yongala was sighted baffling mountainous seas and gale-force winds at the northern end of the Whitsunday Passage. Later that night or during the early hours of the next morning the Yongala sank with the loss of all on board.

Mailbags and wreckage came ashore south of Townsville but the wreck was not located and identified until 1958, twenty-five kilometres east of Cape Bowling Green. In 1981 the Yongala was declared an historic wreck under the Commonwealth Shipwrecks Act. And so the official file closed on one of Queensland’s worst shipping disasters, but long before then the ill-fated Yongala had entered the folklore of the sea.

In 1923 a party of fishermen from Bowen in a small boat were trying their luck off tiny Holbourne Island (near the main shipping channel the Yongala would have used) when a large ship steamed into view from the south. Although it was rusted and barnacle covered, the fishermen, who had seen the ship before, recognised her- it was the Yongala, steaming placidly by in the bright sunshine twelve years after her sinking.

The fishermen watched in amazement as the Yongala disappeared behind Holbourne Island, then their amazement turned to incredulity when it failed to appear out the other side. They raised anchor and sailed around the island but could find no trace of a ship- it had completely vanished. Until the discovery of the wreck of the Yongala ninety kilometres further north in 1958, many believed the ghost ship had appeared to the fishermen to indicate that it lay off Holbourne Island.

There are two interesting postscripts to this story. A Mrs Lowther, who lived on in Mackay until 1969, recounted her own strange experience at the time. She was booked to sail on the steamer on its final voyage but at the last moment had a premonition of disaster and, although she was halfway out to the ship on a tender, refused to go aboard and demanded to be taken back to shore.

That fateful night a family staying in a hotel at Eton, west of Mackay, also had a vision of the disaster. There was a kerosene lamp on the table in their room and suddenly one of the children pointed to it and said: ‘Look at the big ship!’ The flame had blackened a portion of the glass, creating a clear picture of a large ship riding a mountainous sea. As the fascinated family watched, the image faded and was replaced by another the distressed face of a young girl. The next day news of the Yongala's disappearance broke, and while the father was walking down a Mackay street he saw a poster for a touring theatrical company with the face of the young girl on it. He later learned that she had been among the unlucky passengers on the Yongala.

Research Notes

  • SNIPPETS., FULL. 2016. "FULL PASSENGER LIST AND SNIPPETS.". Yongalarevisited.Blogspot.Com. Accessed January 4 2020. Passenger List and snippets
  • Ahoy - Mac's Web Log - The mysterious disappearance of SS Yongala on the 23rd.of March off the North Queensland coast in 1911, "Ahoy - Mac's Web Log - The Mysterious Disappearance Of SS Yongala On The 23Rd.Of March Off The North Queensland Coast In 1911". 2020. Ahoy.Tk-Jk.Net. Accessed January 4 2020. The Mysterious Disappearance.
  • 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of...: 30 May 2011: House debates (,"100Th Anniversary Of The Sinking Of...: 30 May 2011: House Debates (Openaustralia.Org)". 2020. Openaustralia.Org.Au. Accessed January 4 2020. Member's Business comments


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Categories: Shipwrecks