Greycliffe (c) National Library of Australia


Type :
Wooden steam ship
Launched  :
Builder :
David Drake Ltd
Balmain, NSW
Gross weight :
133 tons
Dimensions :
125.00 x 24.00 x 9.90 (feet)
Passenger capacity :
Speed :
12 knots

Greycliffe had originally been built for the Watsons Bay run and operated that route in tandem with the King Edward, Vaucluse and Woollahra. The four ferries were absorbed by Sydney Ferries in 1920.

Greycliffe was involved in the worst accident on the harbour in 1927. With 125 passengers and four crew onboard, she left Circular Quay bound for Watsons Bay and Vaucluse. Because of the time (4.15pm) she had a large number of school children on board. Just past Garden Island at 4.30pm the incoming liner SS Tahiti sliced Greycliffe in half. Forty two people were killed when the ferry was sent to the bottom.

The subsequent Court of Enquiry determined that Tahiti was at fault as she had not kept out of the way of the smaller vessel that she was overtaking. However, in 1929 when Sydney Ferries sued the owner of the Tahiti, the judge determined that the majority of the blame belonged to Greycliffe as he ruled that she had made an "unexpected and unnecessary turn".

Tahiti  ended up sinking in 1930 after breaking a propellor shaft. Although the crew kept her afloat for two days the damage caused by the debris was too much and the ship finally sank with no loss of life.