With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian


Adelaide Steamship Company Limited

MV Moonta

Postcard of the Adelaide Steamship Co MV Moonta

From the author’s private collection

Part One - MV Moonta

The much loved Australian coastal passenger cargo liner, MV Moonta was built in 1931 by Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen Denmark for the Adelaide Steamship Company. She was known for her comfortable accommodations and public rooms and she accommodated 150 passengers. The ship featured three lounges that included the Social Hall, Smoke Room and the ever popular Wintergarden. In addition there was the walk around promenade deck and a spacious sports deck above.

This souvenir MV Moonta matches holder is 2 3/8” X 1 3/4"

was made by Angus & Coote, Sydney. It features the Company flag

Sent in by a supporter

Moonta would depart Adelaide for her six day voyage on Saturday at 7 PM and her itinerary was as follows: Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, and Port Lincoln (, then with one further port of call as required either to; Kingscote, Whyalla or Port Hughes. She would return to the Port of Adelaide early on a Friday morning. Moonta had a considerable cargo capacity and she carried mostly wool, groceries as well as lead and pig iron and other assorted items on these voyages.

Whilst visiting these ports optional tours were available for her passengers to explore the many wonders to be found in the region. But many sailed on the Moonta just to enjoy the relaxation and entertainment that was on offer on board. However, she also offered good and reliable service, excellent and plentiful meals and comfortable accommodation. Then there was always time to play deck games, having fun in the pool, attend the dance at night as well as the special events such as fancy dress. Moonta became well known as being the perfect ship for a “Romantic Holiday” and fares started from just £6 that is AU$12.

An Adelaide Steamship Co advertisement – It is only 6 pound – How things have changed

It is from $120 per day PP these days in a twin cabin

From the author’s private collection

The Moonta did serve during WWII, although little information is available, but she did have a gun mounted on her fantail. As a passenger ship the MV Moonta certainly had a successful career, however by the early fifties both road and rail transport began to damage the profitability of the cargo trade and thus Moonta’s profitability also commenced to suffer. In addition passenger numbers was slowly dropping off therefore the Adelaide Steamship Company decided to retire the Moonta in 1955 after 24 years of faithful service, and placed on the market. Upon completion of her Australian coastal career the Moonta had sailed some 750,000 miles in addition she had carried around 95,000 passengers, which is quite an achievement for this remarkable, yet a small ship!

Specifications – MV Moonta:

Built at:                                     1931 Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen Denmark

Delivered:                                   November 21, 1931

Tonnage:                                   2,693 GRT

Length:                                      298ft

Width:                                       44ft

Draught:                                    15.10ft

Engines:                                     B&W diesels

Screws:                                     Single

Speed:                                       12.5 knots, max 13 knots

Passengers:                                155


Part Two – MV Lydia

Postcard of the MV Lydia

From the author’s private collection

The Moonta was sold to the Hellenic Maritime Lines who then sailed her to Piraeus were she received a refit and her accommodations was extensively remodelled as she now had what was called “Uniclass” accommodations, with cabins in five grades, A to E, which were on A and B decks. They comprised of 4 A grade with two beds with private facilities, 15 B grade singles, 14 C grade double cabins all on A deck. Grades D and E was made up of 4 and 6 berth cabins located on A and B decks. There were also dormitories with a total of 123 berths, which were located forward on B deck. She could also transport up to 180 deck (day) passengers between ports.

Renamed MV Lydia she was placed on the Marseilles to Egypt service sailing via Italy and Greece. Ports of call were: Marseilles, Genoa, (Naples), Piraeus, Alexandria, Piraeus, Naples, Genoa and back to Marseilles. (Naples) … would be omitted on the outbound voyage in winter. This operation continues just over ten years until 1966 when she was retired from service and laid up in Piraeus, Greece.


Part Three – Casino Le Lydia

The ex Moonta, Lydia proved to be a lucky ship, as the MV Lydia was purchased by a French company named “SEMETA” (Société d’Economie Mixte d’Etudes et d’Amenagement des Pyrénées Orientales) and she would be used as a maritime symbol to mark the creation a new style resort at the Ports of Barcarès and Leucate located on the Mediterranean coast of France.

The Lydia headed to Marseilles where her engines and propellers were removed and she was converted into a superb new venue, containing restaurants and a generally a fine tourist attraction with many features. However the good news was that her owners retained many of her original fittings, and only modernized certain areas. When completed she was towed to her new home at Le Barcares in the Langedoc Rousillion region where a special basin had been cut into the sand for her. When she arrived at her destination she entered the basin, which was then refilled with sand and thus in 1967, she became a landlocked vessel.

Postcard of the Lydia seen sand (land) locked as a tourist attraction

From the author’s private collection


Thankfully she is superbly maintained at all times

Unknown photographer - *Please see the photo notes at the bottom of page

The Lydia, ex Moonta has since become a popular attraction at this Mediterranean resort and is she now known as the “Casino Le Lydia” and now part of a leisure complex that has many features on board, such as casino, a restaurant, bar, a disco with laser shows, a pool with a waterslide, a spa, as well as an exhibition centre.


A Photo Gallery of “Casino Le Lydia

All “Casino le Lydia images on this page are by unknown photographers

*Please see the photo notes at the bottom of page


Today she is known as “Casino Le Lydia”


A good view of the stern of the Lydia


The bow of the Moonta, now Lydia proudly sits above the sand of France!


A side view of the ship

Australia had some remarkable passenger liners sailing its coastline in its day, such as its most famed flagship the TSMV Kanimbla, Manunda, and the Manoora, as well as many others, but the ex MV Moonta is Australia’s sole survivor that remains with us today from our many coastal liners of the past and she continues live on and there is no doubt that in many ways this fine old ship will inspire countless future generations I hope and pray that the youth of tomorrow will discover what ships used to be like, as they roam this ships delightful old lounges and stairwells, which remain much in their original condition with its superb woodwork. Long live the Moonta – Thank you France!


Memories of a fine little Ship!


This Superb photograph of MV Lydia is a good reminder of what really is a good little Ship!

From the author’s private collection


Online in the near future


Page Two … A photographic tour of the interiors and the exterior of the Lydia



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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. I know what it is like, I have seen a multitude of my own photographs on other sites, yet these individuals either refuse to provide credit or remove them when asked, knowing full well that there is no legal comeback when it comes to the net. However, let us show these charlatans up and do the right thing at all times and give credit where credit is due!

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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