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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer

Please Note: All ssmaritime and my other related ssmaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write article on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!



MV Baragoola Page One

It may be unusual for ssMaritime to have a campaign to save an almost 93-year old ocean going Sydney to Manly ferry, the magnificent and historic MV Baragoola. However, having lived in Glebe for some time, being in central Sydney, I have spent a great deal of time on Sydney ferries in the “old days” on the fine old ferries MV South Steyne, which is now a superb restaurant in Sydney’s tourist district as well as the MV Baragoola. This fine vessel has been laid up for a very long time and the authorities certainly have not been of much assistance in earlier days in giving her a suitable/good and an accessible berth for the purpose she was purchased for! But you will learn more about that later down this page.

Sydney to Manly Ferry MV Baragoola arriving at her berth and has her forward engines working to come to a halt

Photo National Library of Australia

I sincerely trust that all Australian’s will respect and love our rich maritime history and will assist that the MV Baragoola is kept safe for our future generations. At the bottom of this page I have her owners history, but she has had a chequered past! I have placed a few ideas of what we can and should do with her, but right now, we need men and women with a vision to come forward with ideas and funds to restore this remarkable and historic vessel for our pleasure and that of our future generations!

Please note: I am grateful to a number sites including the original “” (no longer active), thus much of the information that I reveal on this page has been gleaned from this wonderful source. However, I have rewritten and added additional information myself and that I have obtained elsewhere. Credits are shown where required. However, I suggest that if you are interested in assisting this vital piece of Sydney, if not Australia’s maritime history that you visit for full information on how you can support this work to the fullest!

Building the Steamer – SS Baragoola

The SS Baragoola was the last of a series of six ferries that were designed by the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Co. Ltd., and she was built in Australia by Mort’s Dock and Engineering Co. Ltd in Woolwich, NSW who also built her engines. Significantly the Baragoola would be the last Manly (ocean going) ferry to be constructed in Australia for the next 62 years. For interest “Baragoola” is an Aboriginal word meaning “Flood Tide.” Her five earlier sisters were the Binngarra, Burra Bra, Balgowlah, Bellubera and Barrenjoey, the latter of which was later renamed North Head.

The Baragoola was launched on February14, 1922 by a Mrs Hunter McPherson and apparently Baragoola was the eighth Manly ferry built over a period of 35 years and the 41st vessel built by Mort’s Dock and Engineering Co. Ltd. She commenced her deep-sea trails on August 11, 1922.

The Baragoola seen just prior to her launching

Image from original Baragoola webpage

SS Baragoola being launched on February14, 1922

Please Note the “G” in BARAGOOLA tends to look like a “C” - also see the image below

Photo National Library of Australia


Note: the “G” of BARAGOOLA looks more like a “C”. Although if you look very closely

you can see that it is meant to be a G at the bottom of what only appears to looks like C from a distance!

As soon as she had completed her fitting out and speed trials, at which she achieved a good 15 knots, she was delivered to her owners on August 31, 1922 and she commenced services.


Baragoola's original engines were three cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, supplied and built by Mort's. They deliver 1,300 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 burner. 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 soon abandoned. For a short time in 1939 she was converted to burn tar but was reverted back to coal as tar became too expensive during World War 2.

Historic photo - Circa 1930

From the Author’s collection

In December of 1958 she was returned to Mort’s to be fitted with new engines that were originally destined for one of the older ferries. Just over two years later Baragoola returned to service being powered by four brand new English Electric seven cylinder diesel electric generators driving efficient electric motors at her bow and stern. At her trials she operated at a good 17.8 knots and would have a service speed of 16 knots.

A new appearance

As built Baragoola looked identical to her elder sisters having a closed in lower deck and completely open promenade deck. However, the Baragoola became the very first of the Manly ferry fleet to have her promenade deck enclosed in 1930/31. This refit also extended the crew accommodations behind the two wheelhouses.

She is being completed from her refit in 1931

Photo G.E. Crane

Later other changes would be made during a refit and although they were minor, the most notable would be the shortening of her original slim tall funnel to a shorter and thicker funnel following receiving her diesel-electric engines in 1961.

Passenger seating on Promenade Deck forward

Photographer unknown - *Please see photo notes at bottom of page


A fine Postcard of the MV Baragoola after her major refits

From the Author’s collection

Today MV Baragoola retains that same look, just as she has had for some 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 did not exactly improve her looks, being described by one observer as having the look of an Italian fishing fleet.

A postcard with a photo of her taken during her blue and white years

From the Author’s collection


Her lower passenger deck seen in her latter years

Sent in by Jonathan of the UK, but Photographer unknown

*See photo notes at bottom of page


Baragoola’s No: 150182.

Built by: Mort’s Dock and Engineering Co. Ltd in Woolwich, NSW. Australia.

Launched: February 14, 1922.

Tonnage: 498 gross tons, 339 net tons.

Dimensions: Length 199.5ft - 60.45m.

Breadth: 34.Ift - 10.4m.

Draught: 12.2ft - 3.71m.

Engines original: Mort’s triple-expansion Steam. 1960 - Diesel electric.

Screws: Single - fore & aft.

Speed: Steamer: 14 Knots service/15 during trials –

Electric Motors: 16 knots service speed

Hull: Steel.

Superstructure: Wood and steel.

Passenger capacity: 1512 passengers


A Black and white study of this popular ship

Postcard from the Author’s collection


Baragoola’s Promenade Deck

Sydney Ferries publicity photo


Baragoola has mostly an uneventful life during her service on the Sydney to Manly run. However, she did have the occasional encounter, but several incidents really stood out!

On December 24, 1926 she collided with the SS Kosciusko just off Kirribilli Point. The Baragoola sustained little damage; however the Kosciusko suffered extensive damage. Later, during the enquiry, the Marine Court found that the master of the Kosciusko had been at fault. The very next year on September 12, 1927 whilst the French 70 passenger-cargo liner Ville d’ Amiens was anchored in Athol Bight and a lifeboat was being used as a tender to transfer passengers and crew ashore. During one of these operations the Baragoola ran down a lifeboat. The accident threw five people from the lifeboat into the water, one person required hospitalisation, but only for shock. Fortunately no deaths resulted from this incident.

The French Messageries Maritimes passenger cargo liner, SS Ville d’ Amiens

From the Author’s collection

I have been told that the Baragoola holds the dubious “record” of hitting the strangest object in the harbour when on August 28, 1934 when she hit a whale. The ferry sliced into the whale & almost came to a halt due to the impact, no damage to the Baragoola, but the same could sadly not be said of that poor 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. The whale certainly would not let Sydney forget too quickly what had been done to it!

In addition to the above, Baragoola on two occasions managed to overshoot her berth at Circular Quay during her career. Both times saw her collide with the footpath but fortunately, little to no damage was done, but this has proved to be a perennial pastime for ferries. In days past the ferry was simply backed (or pulled) out and went about its business, whilst these days if this occurs, a full accident and safety investigation is held!

Times are’a’changing

In 1973 the Sydney Opera House was opened and a week later the Baragoola was nearly lost. She had just come from being refitted and she began taking on water faster than it could be pumped out. She limped into Circular Quay and quickly unloaded her passengers and she was rushed off to the Balmain ferry workshops. Only the attentions of the local fire brigade prevented her from sinking. As it turned out, one of the Baragoola's two pumps were not working and the bilge pump could not cope with the amount of water that she was taking on after springing a leak. The pumps were repaired and the split hull plates were patched up. Like most aging ferries, the Baragoola had over a dozen patches by the time she was taken out of service; however in contrast her sister the North Head had none.

The MV Baragoola is seen passing Sydney Heads on a really bad stormy sea day!

She is seen here returning on her last voyage to Sydney on that dreaded day, June 23, 1972

An old Press photo

On June 23, 1972 all ferry services to Manly were suspended due to extreme rough weather. Wind gusts of up to 100 km/h were recorded and wave heights measured 12 metres inside the Heads, which these ferries have to pass to and from Manly. Ferries returning on their last voyages during this extreme weather suffered extensive damage, with the Baragoola having seats torn out, whilst 10 metres of the South Steyne's bulwark was ripped off and windows and a door on the Bellubera were damaged and a bollard on the hydrofoil Fairlight was snapped right off. Sadly, one passenger on the Baragoola suffered head injuries. Today's Freshwater class ferries are incapable of operating in conditions like that.

During her career there were even three people who attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the Baragoola, sadly one succeeded, the other two were rescued.

She is seen here passing the Sydney Opera House towards the end of her Blue days

Postcard from the author’s collection

Her send-off

MV Baragoola operated her final service from Circular Quay to Manly on January 8, 1983. Being such as popular vessel there was a huge number of passengers on this her final voyage. There were so many, that there were even people standing on the roof of the promenade deck. For this being her last official voyage, 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 ever received a send-off as grand as she did. 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 Baragoola. As early as 1980 there was a group of Manly businessmen who had shown interest to acquire her and use her as a floating museum moored at Manly. However, as usual the Manly Chamber of Commerce opposed the plan believing that she would be an eyesore, the very vessel that served the Many community so faithfully for some 61 years and a beautiful vessel, especially once she had been refitted and restored. Just look at the superb South Steyne at Darling Harbour today, a Gem of a tourist attraction and profitable at that!

In March 1983 an offer of $100,000 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 did not 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 sold for $12,000 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.

Her Delightful Interiors during Retirement and Refit

Promenade Deck

The photographer of these three images is unknown

*Please see photo notes at bottom of the page


The Lower Deck


Amidships Stairs

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 January 17, 2003 she was moved to the Balls Head Coal Loader. Mr Ashton stated in an interview that he has abandoned his plans for her, blaming the bureaucrats and damage to the hull during the wharf’s 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 June 23, 2006.

Heritage value

Thankfully the Baragoola is heritage listed; the following quote is from the heritage report that can be found here.

“M.V. Baragoola provides rare evidence of the large ferry system which stimulated the growth of suburban Sydney, the development of its recreational patterns and the formation of its popular urban culture. It is a surviving example of a characteristic twentieth century Manly steamer demonstrating evolution of technology for fast double-ended navigation in deep-sea conditions. The fabric demonstrates the changing nature of service over the period, 1922-1983. The machinery technology is unique in the Australian shipping industry. It is an extremely rare surviving example of ship construction by Mort's Dock & Engineering Co. Ltd. Superstructure in good repair, but hull requires replating and stabilisation.”


Now the Good News!

Since May 2010 the Baragoola has been under the ownership of the “Baragoola Preservation Association” and they are actively raising funds to restore this superb vessel to her original condition.

Therefore I hereby ask to join the Save the Baragoola Campaign. Therefore please go to Page Two Now!

I suggest that if you are interested in assisting in saving and restoring this vital piece of maritime/ferry history that you visit for full information and I thank you for supporting this important work!

Two fine film clips:

Also view the following YouTube items: - A five minute slide presentation of her history.

Also: - 3.21 minute film of Baragoola laid up in Sydney.


MV Baragoola at Circular Quay and P&O’s SS Oriana at the Passenger Terminal

A postcard from the author’s collection


Please visit “Save the Baragoola” Page Two Now!


Then, visit for full information



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Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author seeks no funding or favours of any shape or form, never have and never will!

Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!

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