SS Koompartoo

Type :
Steel screw steamer
Launched  :
Builder :
NSW Government Dockyard
Newcastle, NSW
Gross weight :
448 tons
Dimensions :
182.60 x 63.10 x 11.70 (feet)
Passenger capacity :
Speed :
12 knots

1922 was an important year in the history of Sydney's ferries. It was the year that saw the beginning of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that would, when completed 10 years later, led almost overnight to the near-evaporation of the world's largest ferry fleet.

However, the opening of the bridge was still in the future and trade to Sydney's North Shore was increasing rapidly. Sydney Ferries Ltd needed more and bigger boats to service the crowded Milsons Point to Circular Quay route - during this period peak hour ferries were leaving either side of the harbour at the rate of one fully loaded vessel every six minutes.

An order was placed for the construction of two very large steel hulled high capacity ferries - Koompartoo and Kuttabul. These ferries were the largest inner harbour ferry constructed and were wider than the large Manly boats and nearly as long. They could, at peak load, carry nearly 500 more passengers than the Manly vessels as well. To date no other ferry on Sydney Harbour has beaten this capacity record.

After the opening of the bridge, their sheer size was to become their downfall - heavy lift ships of their capacity were no longer needed. Koompartoo continued in service carrying crowds of passengers to the regular Head of the River rowing carnivals and following the sailing boat races that were growing in popularity at the time. This was also the period of the Great Depression and Koompartoo found a new career  as a concert boat, a role she filled between 1935 and 1941.

She was requisitioned by the Commonwealth Government in 1941 and was used until 1942 as a stores vessel by the Australian Army. She was handed over to the Royal Australian Navy in 1942 and operated as a boom vessel in Darwin the next year along with her running mate Kara Kara (an ex vehicular ferry). From 1943 to 1945 she was held in reserve at Darwin and  remained laid up there after the war until 1950 when she was towed back to Sydney. She then stayed mothballed in the reserve fleet until being sold in 1962 and stripped of her superstructure at which time her hull was towed to Launceston (in 1966) for use as a bauxite barge.

Her final fate is unknown..