Type :
Steel screw steamer
Launched  :
Builder :
Mort's Dock
Woolwich, NSW
Gross weight :
499 tons
Dimensions :
64.00 x 10.00 x 3.75 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
Speed :
15 knots

Balgowlah was the fourth of six similar sister ships built by Mort's Dock between 1905 & 1922. In appearance she was identical to the Bellubera built two years previously & the Barrenjoey built in 1913. In nearly forty years on the harbour, she made over 110,000 thousand trips to Manly covering more than 715,000 miles.

Balgowlah was the last coal burning vessel in the Manly fleet & although she was planned to be converted to diesel along with Barrenjoey & Bellubera, this never happened. Ultimately her engines went to Baragoola as at the time the Manly company had fallen on lean times & the decision was made to withdraw Balgowlah from service.

 Balgowlah's look remained fairly constant over her lifetime, the only major alteration being in the 1930's when (like the Bellubera) her top deck was glassed in & the wheelhouses extended to provide better crew accomodation.

Balgowlah was named after the area around North Harbour, a name still used for the residential suburb in that area.

Although the Balgowlah was rated at 15 knots, she could do 16 knots & often made the trip in 25 minutes compared with the current Freshwater class that take 30 - 33 minutes, making her one of the fastest Manly ferries.

 Balgowlah had a fairly incident free life. The first incident happened less than two weeks after she had been brought into service on the 10/12/1912  when, as she left Circular Quay, she tangled in the anchor chain of the collier Five Islands which wrapped itself around her propeller.  The propeller shaft was turned manually by hand by the engineer & eventually the chain fell off, no damage was done to Balgowlah. In November of 1913, she had a minor brush with the ferry Kangaroo, which ironically would rescue passengers from the Kanimbla after Balgowlah holed her fourteen years later. The 25/04/1921 saw Balgowlah tangle with the Manuka (ex-Hobart) & lost around two & a half metres of her sponson. On the 15/06/1927 Balgowlah collided with the inner harbour ferry Kanimbla at Circular Quay, she tore a hole in the Kanimbla's port bow. Although a frantic rescue effort ensued to save the sinking Kanimbla, Balgowlah had only light damage to two of her steel plates above the waterline. Two years later, Balgowlah had a similar accident with the collier Birchgrove Park, this time damage was limited to Balgowlah's bow & sponson, although again, it was fairly light. Her last run-in was on 26/01/1939 when she overshot the wharf at Circular Quay & grounded in soft mud, it took 45 minutes & two tugs to pull her free.

She was taken out of service on 27/02/1951 and remained laid up at the Glebe yards of Stride's Shipbreakers until finally being broken up in August of 1953.