Centenary display tells fateful story of SS Koombana

Submitted by morgans on Wed 21 Mar 2012

A commemorative display to mark the 100th anniversary of the fateful story of the disappearance of the SS Koombana in March 1912 has been developed and will be on display at the WA Maritime Museum from 24 March, 2012.

Western Australian Museum Chief Executive, Alec Coles, said the display at the Maritime Museum coincides with an exhibition developed for Port Hedland, where the SS Koombana was lost.

“It is important to mark the centenary of this maritime disaster and to tell this story in both Fremantle and Port Hedland.

“The fate of the SS Koombana remains one of Australia’s great maritime mysteries. All 157 passengers and crew on board were lost as a result of a severe cyclone on 20 March 1912, but the wreck of the ship has never been found.

“In the aftermath of a severe tropical system off the coast of north-west WA, it is important that we commemorate the tragic loss of life 100 years ago. It also highlights that all these years on cyclones continue to pose a threat to the people of Port Hedland and the North-West.  

The SS Koombana was the pride of the Adelaide Steamship Company fleet and was believed to be the most luxurious of any ship operating off Australia’s cost.

Built and launched in Glasgow in 1908 the ship was used as a primary source of transport between Fremantle and the west coast ports from Geraldton to Wyndham, including Port Hedland now the largest port in Australia.

“The exhibition relates what is known of Koombana’s final hours, and describes the far-reaching search which took place following her disappearance,” Mr Coles said.

The exhibition which is displayed in Port Hedland and replicated at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle was developed by the Western Australian Museum, in consultation with the Port Hedland Historical Society, with financial support provided by the Port Hedland Port Authority. 

‘The Loss of the Koombana’ is a free display at the Western Australian Maritime Museum from 24 March, 2012. Entry fees apply to other exhibits at the WA Maritime Museum.

A postcard of the SS Koombana Adelaide Steam Ship Company

Flora Perrella, Western Australian Museum: 9212 3856   0424 027 646  flora.perrella@museum.wa.gov.au