The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Hawthorns & Co Shipbuilders 1881 to 1924 KOONDOOLOO Yard No 187 Hawthorns and Co Shipbuilders

Leith Shipyards

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KOONDOOLOO Yard No 187 Hawthorns and Co Shipbuilders
 KOONDOOLOO built in 1924
Owners    Harbour Land & transport Co Ltd, New South Wales
Registered    Sydney Australia Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Vehicle Passenger Ferry Launched    March 1924
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    191' 7" Launch Details    
Length B.P.     Weather    
Beam    37' 7" Time to Water    
Depth Moulded      14' 8"      
Draught    11' 6"      
G.R.T.    524 tons      
Engines    114hp triple expansion steam engine developing indicated 1150 hp      
Speed    13 knots      
Other known names    N/A    
Current Status    Wrecked in a storm in 1971 NSW Coast, Australia    
Content on KOONDOOLOO will be added as and when available. 
Ships History
KOONDOOLOO was the final Ship built at the Leith Shipyards of Hawthorns & Co, Shipbuilders and Engineers, before the yard was taken over by Henry Robb Shipbuilders in 1924

The SouthwestRocksMaritimeMuseum has many photos etc of the Hawthorns & Co built ferry and she was in fact the last ship to be built and launched from the Leith Shipyard of Hawthorns & Co

Ship No 187 launched in March 1924

Video footage of the three ferries can be found on the NSW Maritime Heritage site here:

The quiet town of Southwest Rocks on the New South Wales north coast (Australia) received an unexpected surprise on the night of 9th January 1972 when three redundant ferries were washed ashore. Salvage efforts failed and the wrecks were left to the vagaries of sun, sea and sand. After almost 40 years there is very little left however there's enough to tell the story of these long lived and hard working vessels...


Dimensions quoted from Ferries of Sydney by Graeme Andrews.

The most intact wreck is the that of the Koondooloo. Once washed ashore the ship was driven higher up the beach with successive storms and sand movement, now she is almost completely covered.

 The Koondooloo was built in
Leith, Scotland in 1924, she weighed 524 tons and was 58 metres (192 feet) long and had a beam of 11 metres (36 feet).

Between 1924-1932 she operated as one of the largest vehicular ferries crossing
SydneyHarbour but was made redundant with the completion of the bridge in 1932. The ship was rebuilt as a showboat and cruised the Harbour until requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy for use as a repair vessel.

After the war the ship was reconverted back into a vehicular ferry to service
Newcastle's StocktonHarbour and she was made redundant again with the completion of the bridge in 1971. She was sold with three other ferries to further service in the Philippines but during the tow north encountered a storm and was driven ashore...and here she remains, slowly succumbing to the forces of nature.

We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.


As she was on the beach around 1973

(photo credit unknown for now)


(photo credit unknow for now)
Within a few years the Koondooloo will be completely buried in sand which ironically will also help preserve her lower hull from further exposure. At the very tip of the bow the ferry still has bits of her original green hull paint!
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