Geoffs Life After Work !

Life is just beginning

Maheno History beached on Fraser Island

Having visited the fantastic Fraser Island ans observing the shipwrecked maheno I became interested in its history and some of the writings below have been plagiarized along with some pics BUT some of them are mine also…….


S.S. Maheno
Union Steam Ship Company
Built by William Denny & Brothers Dumbarton,
Yard No 746
Engines by shipbuilder
Port of Registry: Wellington
Propulsion: Triple screw, steam turbines.
1914: Fitted with geared turbines and reduced to two screws.
Launched: Monday, 06/19/1905
Built: 1905
Ship Type: Steamship
Ship’s Role: Intercolonial passenger and cargo service
Australia / New Zealand / Canada.
Tonnage: 5323 grt | 3318 nrt
Length: 400 feet
Breadth: 50 feet
Draught: (Depth 31 feet)
Owner History:
Union Steamship Company of New Zealand
Status: Sunk – 09/07/1935
ON 117588.
1905: Delivered 29 September.
War service as Hospital Ship 30.


For many tourists enjoying the sites of Australia’s beauty, one wonders if they stop long enough to question the history behind the natural and man made wonders before their eyes. The Australian coast is littered with the ‘remains’ of many seafaring wrecks, which have today become some of the most popular of tourist attractions.One such example is Fraser Island’s most famous wreck, the ‘Maheno,’ which was driven ashore in July 1935 during a cyclone.
Drawing on local cultural ties, the word Maheno means ‘island’ in Maori, which is the native language of New Zealand. At the time of her maiden voyage, her name stirred quite a bit of interest, based on it’s unusual origins.
To The Editor
New Zealand Evening Post
December 12, 1905
‘Sir – at the luncheon on board the Maheno on the 22nd inst., Mr. H. Beauchamp mentioned that he had been informed that the meaning of the word ‘maheno’ was ‘the passing!’ It is often difficult to trace the meaning of Maori proper names, and it would be interesting to know the reason the Maoris called the place after which the steamer is named ‘Maheno.’ The common Maori word ‘maheno’ means to ‘untie.’ A broad interpretation might be ‘let her go,’ as you would let a greyhound slip from the leash. Mr. Beauchamp’s pronunciation of the word was not the Maori pronunciation. He made the ‘e’ long and called the ship ‘Maheeno.’ The a, e, and o are all short, and a Maori (or at any rate, a North Island Maori) would pronounce the ‘MAhEnO!’ 24th November, 1905’

ship1Shipmaheno-postcardMaheno wreck 1935- shortly after grounding_resizeDSCN4431

Built in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1905 the Maheno was the world’s first triple screw turbine steamer luxury liner. Cutting through the water with her knife like prow, she had a top speed of 19 knots and broke all previous records on the run between Melbourne and Sydney. She held the Sydney to Wellington speed record of 2 days 21 hours, a record that would stand for 25 years.Designed as a rakish Edwardian nautical beauty, she served as a luxury liner, accommodating 254 first class and 201 second class passengers for Trans-Tasman crossings. Employed upon the Trans-Tasman Australia – New Zealand route, the Maheno took in the ports of Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart on passenger service.
After nine years of panache and service to the upper crust from both sides of the Tasman, she was refitted and was enlisted in the Navy as a hospital ship for service in the First World War.During the war the Maheno served as a hospital ship in the Mediterranean, Gallipoli, and the English Channel. Some 25,000 sick, wounded and dying soldiers were valiantly transported and cared for as she traversed the English Channel over the five years of her military service.
After the war, she was returned to her former glory as a luxury liner, and made six New Zealand to England voyages. But the advent of internal combustion engines, ironically improved by the war, lead to her demise as newer, faster and cleaner vessels took to the high seas, leaving the Maheno in their wake. In 1935, the ship was declared outdated and withdrawn from sailing. The Maheno was auctioned off and sold as scrap metal to the Japanese firm, Taminosuke Myachi of Kobe. At the time, Taminosuke Myachi was running very low on funds. As a result, the company made the decision to sell the huge brass propellers from under the still-working Maheno. The reason behind this was to fund the towing of the Maheno by a ship named the Ottawa back to Osaka, Japan. Once in Japan the Maheno was to be dismantled, melted down and then sold as scrap metal. This would turn out to have disastrous results.
The Maheno left Melbourne on June 25, 1935 in tow behind the Oonah, a 1700 ton coaster which had also been sold to the same buyer. It was while on this sad final journey that the Maheno was hit by an unseasonal cyclone off the eastern coast of Fraser Island. During the storm, the tow rope broke and the Maheno drifted ashore and became stranded between Happy Valley and Cathedral Beach on Fraser Island on July 9th, 1935.
Luckily, there was only a skeleton crew on board. Some of the stories of the ship washing up on Fraser tell the tale of the Japanese crew being too afraid to get off the vessel after hearing of the cannibalistic traits of the local Aborigines.Attempts were made to refloat the Maheno unsuccessfully and eventually it was left abandoned on what is now known as 75-mile beach. Another classic yarn tells of the ship being on a tilt of 20 degrees plus. One of the politicians from Maryborough held their wedding on the angled deck and photos have been found with all in sundry enjoying a slightly ‘leaned’ wedding with the Model T Ford cars parked on 75-mile beach.At the beginning of World War II the ship was used as target practice by the RAAF’s Bundaberg aviation training school. Square holes remain in the middle section of the hull, resulting from World War II demolition practice by the Z force commandos, using limpet mines.
Allan Dyball, Senior Queensland Parks and Wildlife Ranger explained:
‘During World War II she was used for bombing practice from above and also had shells fired at her from the sea,” said Allan, “She also had commandos climbing all over her, blowing her up. So she had a bit of a hard life, even after she came to grief on the island.’
Now the reclining former beauty, that the years have dressed in layers of rust and sand, stands today, a relic of her once great glory, but it is a case of ‘look but do not touch,’ as the Queensland government has declared her dangerous and off limits. As a result, and in spite of the temptation, climbing on the shipwreck is not permitted. In fact, fines are issued to those who breach the 3 meter ‘no go zone!’ Nevertheless, she remains one of Fraser Island’s most visited and photographed attractions.


July 11, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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Geoffs Life After Work !

Life is just beginning

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