Steam Tugboat "Tooronga"


Steam Tugboat "Tooronga" was one of a number of tugboats used by the Melbourne Harbour Trust to tow and push larger vessels in and out of Port Melbourne and the Docks.

"Tooronga" was built in 1922 in Dartmouth, England, and was broken up in 1965 in Melbourne.

This photograph is from the early 20th century, actual date unknown, sometime between 1923 and 1965, which is the year that "Tooronga" was broken up. There is a large naval vessel docked at Station Pier in the distance.

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Some interesting facts about "Tooronga" as reported in the "Argus" (an early Melbourne newspaper) for 29th January 1923.


Rough Voyage From England.

Towing the "Moore", a coal lighter carrying a heavy coat of barnacles on her hull, the new tug "Tooronga" steamed into Williamstown Pier at about midnight on Saturday, after a journey of approximately 12,000 miles from Dartmouth, England.

In command of Captain F. J. Baxter, who had with him a crew of 11 hands, the tug commenced its long voyage on October 19. Rough weather was encountered in the Bay of Biscay, and so severe were the conditions that it was found necessary at one time to heave to. Boisterous weather beset the tug in the middle of the Red Sea, en route for Perim. Increasing in intensity, storms raged for some days. Seas "which seemed mountains high" struck the vessel, until it was deemed advisable to erect a 3 foot timber barricade forward of the bridge. This had scarcely been completed when a high sea struck the wooden structure with terrific force, and carried it overboard. Two of the sailors were swept along the deck by the same wave, and one sustained injuries to his face and back. The worst storms were those which prevailed when the tug was steaming from Singapore to the western coast of Australia, but to use the words of the second engineer, "She rode the seas like a duck." At Fremantle, the lighter Moore was taken in tow for Melbourne. This last stage of the journey was destined to be similar to the first, heavy seas and gales retarding progress. Captain Baxter said yesterday that the Melbourne S.S. Company had acquired a fine, powerful tug. "She is a splendid little sea vessel," he added, "and in the worst weather she rode like a seagull. There has been no engine trouble whatever."

The new tug was built for the Melbourne Steamship Company Limited by Messrs. Philip and Son, of Dartmouth, England. Her length overall is 122ft., with a beam of 26ft., and a depth (moulded) of 13ft. 3in. The triple expansion engines indicate nearly 1,000 h.p., and give a speed, fully laden, of 11 knots. The tug embodies the experience of her owners, who have been engaged in the towage trade of Melbourne for more than 60 years. She is designed for the effective handling in narrow waters of the largest vessels visiting Melbourne.

It is possible that the master of the tug "Racer" (Captain Campbell) will be transferred to the Tooronga."

This is a digitally retouched reproduction of the original held by the State Library of Victoria.

Our team of conservators have worked on a high resolution digital image in order to remove blemishes and artifacts such as stains, mould, scratches and damage caused by the handling of the original. We strive to provide authentic representations of the original work that are suitable for enlargements that retain the tones and character of the original.

Collections: Melbourne 1921-1940

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