Rescuing Crew and Passengers of the Steamship Georgette.

Scene of the rescue of passengers and crew of the Georgette on the 31st of November, 1876 at Calgardup Bay, Western Australian. The Georgette was built as a collier by McKellar, McMillan & Co. at Dumbarton in October 1872. When … Read Full Description

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S/N: ISN-WC-770207009–444767
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Full Title:

Rescuing Crew and Passengers of the Steamship Georgette.




In good condition.


Hand coloured engraving.

Image Size: 

x 215mm
Rescuing Crew and Passengers of the Steamship Georgette. - Antique View from 1877

Genuine antique



Scene of the rescue of passengers and crew of the Georgette on the 31st of November, 1876 at Calgardup Bay, Western Australian.

The Georgette was built as a collier by McKellar, McMillan & Co. at Dumbarton in October 1872. When originally launched the steamer had the official number 68004. It was clinker built and had one deck, four bulkheads and a round stern. The vessel, which was cemented, was rigged as a 2-masted topsail schooner with a capacity of 460 deadweight tons. It had a raised quarterdeck 19.2 m long and a forecastle 6.9 m long. Smith Bros & Co., Glasgow, built the 2-cylinder compound engine, which gave 24 HP per cylinder. Thomas Connor of Fremantle bought the single screw steamer in the UK for £14.000, the vessel arriving in Fremantle in September 1873. The following month it grounded on Murray Reef, springing some of the plates, and was in imminent danger of sinking as it steamed to Careening Bay for repairs. After these repairs a regular contract mail service was established between Champion Bay and Albany, calling in at intermediate ports. This contract was operative until it expired in September 1876. During this period the Georgette also made some voyages to Adelaide where the vessel was overhauled, especially after being stranded on the reef in October 1873. On 29 November 1876 Connor mortgaged the Georgette to John McCleery, merchant of Fremantle, for £22,000.

On 24 November at Bunbury the Georgette took on a cargo of 145 loads of jarrah valued at £870. Some large pieces were 30 cm square and over 9 m long, and during the loading one of these pieces fell into the hold. The steamer sailed that night for Fremantle where further cargo consisting of 25 bales of leather, two casks of whale oil and 260 hides was loaded. The total value of all the cargo was £1,257.10s. The Georgette departed Fremantle on 29 November for Adelaide via Bunbury, Busselton and Albany. On board were 50 passengers, two for Bunbury and 48 for Adelaide. The stops at Bunbury and Busselton were of short duration, and it left the latter port during the afternoon of Thursday 30 November.

About midnight on 30 November the Georgette developed a leak. None of the pumps on board, including the steam pump, worked, and the water rose so that at 4.00 a.m. on Friday 1 December Captain Godfrey had the crew and some of the passengers bail with buckets. The vessel was steered towards the coast, but at 6.00 a.m. the rising waters put the fires out and the steamer lost all power, so the sails were set and the vessel headed for the shore, still some kilometres away. A bullock team took survivors from their landing place near the Quininup Brook to Yelverton’s sawmill at Quindalup on the Saturday night. The group consisted of William Dundee (1st mate), John Dwyer (2nd mate), A. McLeod (seaman), James Noonan (cabin boy), James Dempster, William Dempster, Miss Walsh, Mrs Herbert Dixon and child, Mrs Simpson and child and Mrs Stammers and two children. Shortly after sunrise on the Saturday 2 December the Georgette had blown onto a sandbank ‘two ship’s lengths from shore’ (Inquirer, 6 December 1876: 3a) near the mouth of Calgardup Brook where the third lifeboat was used to attempt to take a line ashore. During this attempt the boat was capsized and swamped by 2-m high waves, but recovered and returned to the steamer where some of the passengers were transferred to it, and it again headed for the shore. Once again the boat was capsized, and two local residents, Sam Isaacs and Grace Bussell, rode horses into the surf to assist in the rescue of these survivors.

The schooner Ione left the Vasse at 7.00 a.m. Sunday morning to go to the scene of the disaster but was unable to reach the Georgette. It did, however, pick up some of the crew and passengers who had come ashore at Calgardup and took them to Busselton.

From the original edition of The Illustrated Sydney News.

Gibbs & Shallard. Illustrated Sydney News. ISSN 2203-5397.

State Library New South Wales: F8/39-40
State Library Victoria: PCINF SLVIC=1853-1872
National Library Australia: Bib ID 440095


J.W.C. - James Waltham Curtis (1839 - 1901)

Curtis was a painter, illustrator and photographic colourist. A regular exhibitor at the Black and White exhibitions, Victorian Academy of Arts, in the 1880s. painter, illustrator and photographic colourist, was born in Devonshire. He had worked on the London Graphic and Sketcher before coming to Victoria, probably with the goldrush. In Melbourne he worked first as a colourist for Johnstone, O’Shannessy and Co., then as an illustrator on the Illustrated Australian News succeeding O.R. Campbell. He often signed his works with the monogram.

View other items by J.W.C. - James Waltham Curtis

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