• Exhibition specifically developed for Port Hedland
  • Tells what is known of SS Koombana’s final hours and the search for the ship

The Western Australian Museum, in partnership with the Port Hedland Historical Society and the Port Hedland Port Authority, has developed an exhibition telling the fateful story of the disappearance of the SS Koombana in 1912.

The original opening of the exhibition was planned for the official centenary date last month, however was ironically postponed due to unsafe weather conditions caused by Cyclone Lua.

WA Museum Director of Public and Regional Services, James Dexter will speak at the exhibition on Friday April 27 in celebration of the support shown by the Port Hedland community since the exhibition opened to the public in March.

Mr Dexter said the display of this exhibition in Port Hedland, where this maritime disaster happened, was important in marking this event.

“The fate of the SS Koombana remains one of Australia’s great maritime mysteries which interests many people. 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,” said Mr Dexter.

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.

The exhibition 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 WA Museum is committed to working across the whole of WA and is always pleased to work with regional partners to tell regional stories. This, of course, was a regional story of national and international significance so we were delighted to develop this exhibition with the people of Port Hedland,” Mr Dexter said.

‘The Loss of the Koombana’ is a free exhibition on display at the Cottage adjacent to Dalgety House, corner of Wedge and Anderson St, Port Hedland.

The event to mark the exhibition is on Friday 27 April from 6pm and is open to the public.

Niki Comparti, Western Australian Museum, 9212 3840, Niki.Comparti@museum.wa.gov.au