M.V. Baragoola

8th March 2009, 10:51
Hi All

just thought I would let you know about the plight of this grand old vessel

History of the Baragoola - "Flood Tide"

In the beginning

On the 7th of October 1920, the manager of the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company (F J Doran) wrote the following letter to the manager of Mort's Dock & Engineering Company at Balmain:

"Dear Sir,
I am instructed by my Board to acknowledge your letter of the
30th ultimo (ed - September) offering to construct a double-
ended screw steamer of the Barrenjoey type, length 199 ft,
breadth 34 ft and depth 14 ft 4 inches, and all other particulars
as per your letter. My Board will accept your offer to build the
vessel for the sum of seventy two thousand pounds under the
conditions mentioned in your letter, the time to finalise the
work to be 18 months from the landing of the material."

The agreed upon contract stated that the new vessel was to be broadly the same as the Barrenjoey with modifications taken into account for her shorter and wider lines.

The new vessel would be called Baragoola, an Aboriginal word meaning Flood Tide.

Baragoola's hull was launched on Valentine's Day (14th February) 1922 by Mrs Hunter McPherson and was the eighth Manly ferry built over a period of 35 years. She was also the 41st Mort's vessel built.

Her first sea trial was on the 11th of August, 1922.

On the 31st of August 1922, having completed her fit-out and speed trials, she was delivered to her new owners.

She would be the last Manly ferry constructed in Australia for another 62 years.

Motive power

Baragoola's original engines were three cylinder, triple-expansion steam engines, supplied and built by Mort's. They deliver 1300 horsepower and drove her at a maximum speed of 15 knots. The steam to drive her was supplied by two boilers. As built, she was (like her sisters), a coal buner. In the 1930's an attempt was made to trial her on burning pulverised coal. This had the unwanted effect of covering the ferry and her passengers in coal dust and was abandonded. For a brief time starting in 1939 she was converted to burn tar but was reverted to coal when tar became expensive during World War 2. In December of 1958 she was returned to her builder to be fitted with new engines originally destined for the older Balgowlah.
A little over two years later she returned to service sporting a new top speed of 16 knots and being powered by four English Electric seven cylinder diesel electric generators driving electric motors at her bow and stern.

Changing looks

When built the Baragoola had the same look as her older siblings; a closed in lower deck and completely open promenade deck. Baragoola became the first of the manly fleet to have her promenade deck enclosed in the early 1930's. This refit also extended the crew accomodation behind her wheel-houses. The only other change made to her lines was the change from her tall smoke stack to a shorter funnel following her conversion to diesel-electric. Baragoola still maintains what is basically the same look she has had for nearly 80 years. Baragoola was also the first Manly ferry to lose the distinctive bottle green colour scheme that had branded the fleet for nearly a century when, in 1974, she was painted in the blue and white of the PTC. The new colour scheme didn't exactly improve her looks, being described by one observer as having the look of an Italian fishing fleet.


Baragoola led a reasonably uneventful life during her service on the Manly run.

Her first stoush with trouble came on 24/12/1926 when she collided with the Kosciusko off Kirribilli Point. Needless to say, Kosciuko suffered more damage. The Marine Court later found that the master of the Kosciusko was at fault.

On the 12/09/1927 Baragoola ran down a lifeboat from the liner Ville D'Amiens that was anchored in Athol Bight. The accident threw five people in the small boat into the water, one later required hospitilisation for shock. Fortunately no deaths resulted from the accident.

Baragoola holds the dubious "record" of hitting the strangest object in the harbour when she hit a whale on 28/08/1934 which ended up causing no end of grief for several days afterwards. The ferry sliced into the whale & almost came to a halt due to the impact, no damage to the Baragoola, but the same could not be said of the whale. After the collision near the Heads, the whale swam off towards Flagstaff Point, trailing a wake of blood in its path. After being spotted following an erratic path, observers lost sight of the whale until three days later, when the carcass surfaced near Old Mans Hat. It was towed out to sea, but by evening had drifted to within a kilometre of Bondi Beach. The whale was then towed out to around five kilometres off the coast, but by next morning, it was drifting back towards The Heads. The carcass was again towed well out to sea, however, two days later it was back again on the rocks at South Head. Again, it was towed out to sea, this time nearly 18 kilometres. A report at the time had the Harbour Master saying "We'll get rid of it this time if we have to take it to New Zealand". But next day, it was back, this time stranding at the entrance to Botany Bay. On the 5th of September, the whale was towed around 25km out to sea & finally, after 9 days, was never seen again.

Baragoola twice managed to overshoot her birth at Circular Quay during her career. Both times saw her collide with the footpath but fortunately, little damage was done. This is a perennial pastime for ferries; in days past the ferry was simply backed (or pulled) out and went about its business. Nowadays if it happens a full accident investigation with countless recommendations is held.
Times change.

In 1973 the Opera House was opened and a week later the Baragoola was nearly lost. Just out from a refit, she began taking on water faster than it could be pumped out. She limped into the Quay, unloaded her passengers and was rushed off to Balmain. Only the attentions of the local fire brigade prevented her from sinking. As it turned out, one of the Baragoola's two pumps was not working and the bilge pump could not cope with the amount of water she was taking on after springing a leak. The pump was repaired and the suspect hull plate was patched. Baragoola had over a dozen patches by the time she left service; contrast this with the North Head which had none.

On 23/06/1972 ferry services to Manly were suspended due to rough weather. Wind gusts of up to 100 km/h were recorded and wave heights measured 12 metres inside the Heads. Baragoola had seats torn out, 10 metres of the South Steyne's bulwark was ripped off, windows and a door on the Bellubera were damaged and a bollard on the hydrofoil Fairlight was snapped off. One passenger on the Baragoola suffered head injuries. Today's Freshwater class ferries are incapable of operating in conditions like those.

Three people attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the Baragoola, only one succeeded.

Final run

MV Baragoola operated her last run from Circular Quay to Manly on the 8th of January 1983. She carried a huge number of passengers on her last trip - so many that there were people standing on the roof of the promenade deck. For her las trip a pennant bearing the name "Baragoola" streamed from her front mast and she carried on her rear mast the house flag of the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company. No other Manly ferry has received the send-off that she received. As was traditional with the Port Jackson Company vessels, she operated bow first to Manly.


Prior to her retirement in 1983 plans were already afoot to preserve the vessel. As early as 1980 a group of Manly businessmen had wanted to aquire her for use as a floating museum, permanently moored at Manly. The Manly Chamber of Commerce opposed the plan believing that it would be an eyesore.

In March 1983 an offer of $100k was made for the ferry by a Fairlight man who wanted to turn her into a floating restaurant. This time Manly Council blocked the attempt as they didn't want something as large as the Baragoola permanently moored in Manly Cove where, they claimed, "it could obstruct the possible rebuilding of the harbour pool and be in the way of ferries and water taxi operations."

By late 1983 she was tied up at Cockatoo Island (the same berth would later be used by North Head after her withdrawal in 1987) looking neglected. Negotiations with a group from Melbourne who wanted to use her as a floating attraction had fallen through.

At the end of 1983 she was solf for $12k to the Eureka Education Foundation who planned to use her as Australia's first floating university. However permission was not granted for her to use public wharves and this fell through as well.

Finally in 1988 she was sold to David Ashton (Waterview Wharf Pty Ltd) and moved to Rozelle Bay. Later she was moved to Simmons Wharf, Mort's Bay. In the next fifteen years Mr Ashton spent one million dollars on refurbishing her until Baragoola was evicted from her home following the demolition of her berth. The demolition also damaged her hull.

On 17/01/2003 she was moved to the Balls Head Coal Loader at Berry's Bay. Mr Ashton stated in an interview that he has abandoned it, blaming bureaucrats and damage to the hull during the demolition in 2003.

"People ask me every day what's happening with it," he said. "I haven't been across there in two years. It upsets me too much. I haven't got the strength any more. I will just leave it there." (Sydney Morning Herald 23/06/2006).


16th March 2009, 03:03
There was a recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald that the ship had been sold for $20,000 (?) and that she was to be used for some sort of educational purpose at Port Stephens north of Sydney. I am unaware as to what has happened in the last few weeks. Given the state of the ship I am not sure she could handle a run up the coast but you never know!

19th March 2009, 11:44
Hi All

I forgot to mention theres a web site dedicated to saving the Baragoola it is


19th March 2009, 12:07
Here is a photo of her as a steamer


30th May 2009, 01:53
There was a recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald that the ship had been sold for $20,000 (?) and that she was to be used for some sort of educational purpose at Port Stephens north of Sydney. I am unaware as to what has happened in the last few weeks. Given the state of the ship I am not sure she could handle a run up the coast but you never know!

Dear All
"The historic ferry Baragoola is in grave danger of being scrapped! You may be aware that it was recently sold on E-bay to a 'Whale Watching Group'. It's now apparent that this group may want the Heritage Listing lifted, so the vessel can be sold for scrap. There's a real eye-opening, revealing letter from the previous owner at [ http://landover.no-ip.com/sydneyferries/forum/index.php/topic,526.0.html ] This is a PDF attachment titled ‘Baragoola – Travesty & Tragedy’ and shows the true incompetence of Government departments.
There is a lot more information and background at the above web link. Please let me know your thoughts, also N.S.W. Heritage are thinking of removing Her heritage Listing so the new owner can scrap Her we have until the 22/6/2009 to object please write to Heritage Council
[email protected],

19th June 2009, 02:41
Hi All

22nd of June - Heritage Branch will be discussing the delisting of the Baragoola from the Heritage Register - keep those email going to Heritage ([email protected]) & to the Minister of Planning & the Environment:

Ms Kristina Keneally,
Level 35 Governor Macquarie Tower,
1 Farrer Place,
Phone (02) 9228 5811
Fax (02) 9228 5499
Email [email protected]

Regards Nicko

19th June 2009, 04:32
Face the facts, please. Sad as it is to say, after a very recent inspection, BARAGOOLA is well past remediation.

8th October 2010, 07:20
Face the facts, please. Sad as it is to say, after a very recent inspection, BARAGOOLA is well past remediation.

And 15 months later that statement is just so untrue!

Internally she's sprucing up well, hull is strong and is getting the attention it deserves.

Amazes me how people can make comments like the above one without any basis in fact.

25th October 2010, 12:44
And 15 months later that statement is just so untrue!

Internally she's sprucing up well, hull is strong and is getting the attention it deserves.

Amazes me how people can make comments like the above one without any basis in fact.

You are so right Blacklord here is an independent surveyors report on the condition of the vessel from the official Website :http://www.savethebaragoola.com/forum/index.php?topic=757.msg2868;topicseen#new

Dear members, volunteers and supporters,

As you are all aware, NSW Maritime requested that a condition survey of Baragoola needed to be undertaken shortly after we took possession of the vessel.

NSW Maritime provided three quotes from independent surveyors and the Association and Maritime selected one to perform the task with the costs being split between both bodies.

The successful tenderer was Gibson, Minto and Aiton Pty Ltd and the survey was carried out recently (30th September).

The survey had limited terms of reference that were agreed upon by both parties prior to the commissioning - these were:

1. A comprehensive condition survey of the hull structure and its integrity with respect to water tightness. The extent of corrosion and degradation of major structural elements to determine the risk of a major structural hull failure when relocating the vessel.
2. An inventory of pollutants on board.
3. Provide advice on the vessels risk of structural failure and/or the failure of watertight integrity of the vessel (other than structural) leading to flooding and sinking in the next 12 months assuming it remains in its current location and no repairs or maintenance are carried out.
4. Provide advice on the capacity for the vessel to be moved/towed safely within Sydney Harbour or offshore.
5. Where advice required in (4) above is negative what immediate repairs need to be carried out for the vessel to be moved/towed.
6. Provide a suggested towing plan for moving the vessel including stability considerations, measures to reduce the risk of structural failure and watertight integrity and contingency options in the event of failures preventing the tow continuing.
7. Provide a cost estimate of restoring the vessel to static display standard.

Of some importance to us are the conclusions, these are presented here:

1. Following our survey we do not consider that there is a risk of structural failure of the vessel in the next 12 months.
2. We do not consider that there will be a loss of watertight integrity provided certain work parameters are undertaken.
3. The vessel can be towed within the confines of Sydney Harbour "as is".
4. Extensive work needs to be carried out before the vessel can be safely towed offshore. The lack of insurance and stability details would further hamper this.
5. The risk of pollution from the vessel is extremely low.
6. We took the opportunity of inspecting the superstructure decks and fittings and recorded their condition. The defects recorded do not affect the watertight integrity of the vessel.
7. Based on the amount of equipment and work being undertaken by the Preservation Society it appears that they are operating in a professional and orderly manner. To complete the work required on the hull will require dry docking in order to clean, repair and paint the hull. Above the weather deck restoration can be undertaken as required.

Equally important are the costings for restoration, these surprised us considerably as we believed these would be extremely higher:

Dry dock costs are estimated at $27,000
Hull repair costs are estimated as $15,000
Painting costs are estimated. $12,000
Moving the vessel and associated costs are estimated at $24,000

With this report we now have a clear direction in what needs to be done in the next few months along with a costing. It is important to note that this report paints a very different view of the Baragoola to that done by Boat Check in February last year.
That report can be viewed on NSW Heritage's site at http://www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/docs/Independent_StructuralConditionReport_Baragoola_Bo atCheckPtyLtd_2009.pdf

Note that nowhere does it mention that a large proportion of the vessel (65% as stated by Boat Check) needs to be replaced. This is important as NSW Heritage used this as a primary reason for the delisting of Baragoola as a heritage item stating that such a large scale replacement would result in a vessel that is essentially a replica - "“The reality is, however, that the bulk of the vessel, its fixtures and fittings would all need to be replaced. In fact, the restoration works would be so substantial as to transform the vessel largely into
a replica of its original self, which would clearly not have the same level of heritage significance.” See Heritage's press release at http://www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/docs/mediareleases/204_Baragoola_delisting_and_purchase_0302.pdf for details.

This new report also refutes the following statement from NSW Heritage:

“The Heritage Council gave the issue very detailed and difficult deliberation before recommending refusal and the former Planning Minister accepted its recommendation based on evidence that Baragoola was in such a poor structural condition that it presented a serious risk to the item and to the marine environment."

We leave the reader to draw their own comparisons and conclusions upon reading both reports.

We are very happy in particular with conclusion number seven as this validates the way we are proceeding and the work that we have accomplished thus far.

We also note that the surveyor included pictures of ALL the worst areas on the boat :)


Lance Lyon