Centenary of SS Kwinana coming to rest on local shores

Centenary of SS Kwinana coming to rest on local shores
28 July 2022

Today marks 100 years since the SS Kwinana arrived on local shores when the ship drifted over from Garden Island during a storm on 28 July, 1922.

 

 

Cr Dennis Wood, Cr Sherilyn Wood, Mayor Carol Adams, Cr Michael James Brown and Cr Matthew Rowse.

A hundred years have passed since the SS Kwinana came to rest on a local beach, becoming the namesake for the future town.

The centenary was commemorated with an informal event held in Wells Park, Kwinana Beach, on Saturday, 16 July.

The event featured a morning tea, and artist Tegan Jenkins ran a Ship to Shore activity inviting participants to construct their own floating creations using natural materials.

Mayor Carol Adams said the gathered group heard extraordinary tales from Ronald Day who lived in Kwinana Beach from 1938. Mr Day shared images and plans of the original blocks, cottages, shop and bakery of the settlement.

“Clara Wells ran a small store and post office near the site and began marking mailbags ‘Kwinana Wreck’ after the SS Kwinana’s final resting place,” Mayor Adams said.

“The name stuck and was officially adopted for the township in 1937.”

The SS Kwinana was originally built in England in 1892 as the SS Darius and transported horses between Australia and Calcutta for the Currie Line.

The Darius was sold to the State Shipping Service of Western Australian in 1912 and renamed in a ceremony in Fremantle.

As the Kwinana, it transported passengers and supplies to the North West, returning with cattle to Robb’s Jetty in Cockburn.

While in State Service, the Kwinana suffered several mishaps, finally being damaged beyond repair by a fire in December 1920.

Stripped of its fittings, it was taken to Careening Bay on Garden Island where it was blown ashore during the fated Friday storm in July 1922, according to a Daily News article published on Monday 31 July.

In 1941 the wreck was used for an army explosives training exercise, and it was later cut down to water level and filled with limestone and concrete. In the 1960s it provided access to an ocean swimming pool.

While some subsequent media articles and publications reference various dates, the Daily News article is considered a primary source to determine the ship’s arrival in what would become Kwinana.

“The SS Kwinana certainly endured a range of different circumstances in its time, collecting many stories of old, but its final resting place represented a new beginning for the area,” Mayor Adams said.

“It provided an identity for the township that now has a population of more than 45,800 people.”

In the lead up to the centenary, an exhibition of historical images and interpretive displays featured in the Carol Adams Community Lounge of the Darius Wells Library and Resource Centre.