Showboat





Showboat

Type :
Steel screw steamer
Launched  :
1932 (rebuilt from vehicular ferry)
Builder :
Sydney Ferries Ltd
Balmain, NSW
Gross weight :
524 tons
Dimensions :
191.70 x 35.70 x 14.85 (feet)
Passenger capacity :
1702
Speed :
13 knots

In the early 1920's Sydney Ferres Ltd had a requirement for extra capacity on the vehicular ferry route from Milsons Point to Dawes Point. Even though by this time the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a reality, the company placed an order for three very large, high capacity vehicular ferries - Koondooloo, Kalang and Kara Kara.

After the bridge opened in 1932 Koondooloo was converted to a cargo carrying vessel and operated in this role until 1937.

At this time, Sydney Ferries was left with several big vessels that were no longer required for passenger operation. The tried something new, converting Koompartoo and Kuttabul into excursion steamers and concert boats. The trial was a success and inspired a complete rebuild of the Koondooloo. After a few months being rebuilt she emerged  as the broad and capacious "Showboat" with a closed in lower deck and wide open spaces fore and aft. Shortly after her refit her sister Kalang was rebuilt as an even bigger concert boat. Her success resulted in the Showboat being refitted once again in 1940, this time receiving an enclosed upper deck.

The surprising thing about the various concert vessels was that they were 'dry'. Although the NSW gaming minister of the time mooted the possibility of providing the two big vessels with liquor licenses, this never eventuated. It didn't stop people smuggling their own liquor aboard however and police response to the "problem" appears to have been haphazard at best with only one recorded raid happening on board the Kuttabul.

The New South Wales sesquicentenary in 1938 provided the biggest boost for the two vessels with large numbers of tourists visiting Sydney for the celebrations. During the events both boats were kept busy at full capacity day and night for the best part of a month

The Showboat operated succesfully until 1942 when she was taken over by the Commonwealth Government for war duties. After the war she was refitted back to her original role as a vehicular ferry. She was sent to Newcastle and operated at Stockton until yet another bridge made her finally redundant.

Koondooloo was wrecked at Trial Bay on January 9th, 1972 while under tow to the Phillipines.


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