90 years since the Greycliffe ferry disaster

The partially submerged remains of the ferry <em>Greycliffe</em>, following the collision with <em>Tahiti</em>. 40 lives were lost in the disaster. ANMM Collection 00036858, Samuel J Hood Studio.

The partially submerged remains of the ferry Greycliffe, following the collision with Tahiti. 40 lives were lost in the disaster. ANMM Collection 00036858, Samuel J Hood Studio.

The sinking of the Greycliffe ferry on 3 November 1927 remains the most significant accident on Sydney Harbour to date. Forty lives were lost when the ferry collided with the Union Steamship Company’s liner Tahiti. The tragedy had a marked impact on the city – many old Sydney families can still recount their personal connections to the disaster, particularly those associated with the suburbs around Vaucluse and Watsons Bay where many of the victims lived.  It inspired significant plot points in the novels Waterways by Eleanor Dark (1938) and Careful, He Might Hear You by Sumner Locke Elliott (1963).

Today, on the 90th anniversary of the disaster, we tell the story of Betty Sharp, the teenage girl who had a haunting impact on the recovery teams at the time of the accident and through subsequent retellings of the disaster.

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Work and play: An update from Bailey, chaser of seagulls

I love taking the ferry. It’s like being a tourist in your own city. Image: ANMM.

I love taking the ferry. It’s like being a tourist in your own city. Image: ANMM.

Hi there! It’s been a while since I last wrote, as life has been rather busy. I’ve started some new duties recently. My human colleagues call this ‘job creep’ and seem not to like it, but I’m happy – we border collies like to be occupied!

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#HoodsHarbour: May’s ‘People’s Choice’ winner

Sydney Harbour ferry approaching Circular Quay, 1901-1953 Samuel J Hood Studio, ANMM Collection

Sydney Harbour ferry approaching Circular Quay, 1901-1953
Samuel J Hood Studio, ANMM Collection

I’m pleased to announce the May winner of the museum’s #HoodsHarbour People’s Choice competition. Robert Osborne chose this photograph from the museum’s Samuel J Hood collection via our Flickr Commons photostream. Robert noted the picture ‘reminded me of the Manly Ferries as I used to spend the journey looking into the engine room from the passenger area and soak up the sights and smells‘. He composed a poem, which now forms the basis for the photograph’s exhibition label:

A memory of the past,
the glorious days of old.
The smell of oil and steam,
the shine of brass.
Gone, but still a dream.

People's Choice winner

Robert’s favourite Hood photograph currently on display in #HoodsHarbour
Photo: Nicole Cama, ANMM

Congratulations to Robert and thanks to all those who participated in our #HoodsHarbour competition. It was a museum first for us and was aimed at engaging visitors by allowing them to explore our historic photographic collection online as well as participate in the exhibition process. We hope you enjoyed it just as much as we did! 🙂

 

#HoodsHarbour is open at the museum until 9 June 2014.

Nicole Cama
Digital Curator

Manly at the turn of a century

Seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care

Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, a burst of events and individuals conspired to shape the area of Manly, in character as much as construction. This period helped form the Manly we know today – a fast and fresh ferry ride from the city and a place where we can swim in the daylight hours, safe under the watchful eyes of lifesavers.

Engraving from the Illustrated Sydney News, 16 December 1865 titled 'CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRALIA : Manly Beach on a public holiday’. The engraving shows the Pier Hotel and the H.G. Smith’s Camera Obscura tower in the background. ANMM Collection 00006061

Engraving from the Illustrated Sydney News, 16 December 1865 titled ‘CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRALIA : Manly Beach on a public holiday’. The engraving shows the Pier Hotel and H.G. Smith’s Camera Obscura tower in the background. ANMM Collection 00006061

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The ‘indescribable horror’

Photograph of an injured man

Unidentified injured man and policemen at Greycliffe disaster, 3 November 1927
Samuel J Hood Studio
ANMM Collection

On 3 November 1927, the Union Steamship Company’s RMS Tahiti collided with the Watsons Bay ferry Greycliffe off Bradley’s Head. It became known as Sydney’s worst maritime disaster and etched itself into the minds of those who witnessed scenes of ‘indescribable horror’ on the harbour on that sunny afternoon. Continue reading