Half-ship model, SS 'Orara', wood / metal / glass, made by Scott's Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Kinghorn, Scotland, 1907
This half-ship model of the SS 'Orara' represents the largest and finest vessel owned by the North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd during its formative years in operation. The 'Orara' had a reputation of being fast and reliable, qualities that were unequalled in other steam ships, until the introduction of the 'Wollongbar' in 1911.
The 'Orara' was first employed to carry out the express service between Sydney and Byron Bay, a route taken by the vessel for almost 30 years. From 1911 - 1939, it undertook this route alongside the 'Wollongbar', sailing from Sydney on Saturdays and Byron Bay on Tuesdays. Later on, the 'Orara' also began running Sunday excursions to Cronulla and Port Hacking, providing many Sydneysiders with their first taste of sea travel.
In 1939, the 'Orara' became the leader of a flotilla of minesweepers when it commenced war service. The emphasis placed on minesweeping by the Navy was a crucial one, given that the Germans were successful in WWI when it came to mining Sydney's sea lanes and as predicted, they tried to repeat this during WWII. The first realisation that raiders had been active came on November 7 when the steamer 'Cambridge', out of Melbourne for Sydney, was sunk near Wilson's Promontory which had also been mined. The 'Orara' reached the area at 9.20am the next day and rescued the survivors who were landed that night. The following day the 'Orara', with the ex-trawler 'Durraween', also swept two mines within fifteen minutes, and sank both with rifle fire. This was a very fine achievement, although one which could not have been executed without the thirteen months of endless training and sweeping which preceded it.
Following WWII, the Navy decommissioned the 'Orara' where she lay in Sydney Harbour for almost two years, until she found a buyer in Shanghai in 1947. From here, the 'Orara' underwent three name changes from 'Pearl River' to 'Hong Shan' and then 'Santos' in 1950.
Ironically, on June 19, 1950, 'Santos' hit a mine at the mouth of the Yang-tse River and sank with a regrettably heavy loss of life, having served the waters for 43 years.
Models such as this one would have been made for presentation purposes after the construction of the full-scale steamer. It is an accurate representation of a vessel that no longer survives.
Richards, M., "North Coast Run: Men and Ships of the New South Wales North Coast" (Killara, 1977) pp.30, 52-53, 133-134, 147 & 166
This half-ship model of the SS 'Orara' was built by Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd in Kinghorn, Scotland in 1907.
Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd was the first shipbuilding company in the world. It was established in 1711 when John Scott established a small business to build herring buses and other craft. By 1790, the business expanded through the acquisition of the Greenock Foundry in Greenock, Scotland by Scott's two sons, from which time the company traded as Scott, Sinclair & Co. In 1859, they became known as the Greenock Foundry Co, but also traded intermittently as John Scott & Sons and Scott & Co.
In 1899, the firm was incorporated as a limited liability company, Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, and it absorbed the Greenock Foundry Co 5 years later. In 1965 the company took over Scott & Sons (Bowling) Ltd and in 1966, the Greenock Dockyard Co Ltd. In 1970, the company merged with Lithgows Limited, Port Glasgow, Scotland to form Scott Lithgow Ltd, Greenock. This new company was nationalised in 1977 as part of British shipbuilders and it was sold to Trafalgar House in 1984.
Scott Lithgow continued to trade until 1992 when operation ceased.
The SS 'Orara' was constructed in 1907 and at this time, was the largest and finest vessel the North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd had owned. She was employed chiefly for undertaking the express service from Sydney to Byron Bay up until 1911, when she then ran the route alongside the SS 'Wollongbar'. The 'Orara' would sail from Sydney at 9am on Saturdays and from Byron Bay at 7pm on Tuesdays, while the 'Wollongbar' sailed from Sydney at 11pm Tuesdays and Byron Bay 7pm Saturdays.
By World War II, the 'Orara' became the leader of a flotilla of minesweepers, working with vessels such as the ex-trawler 'Durraween' to sweep and sink mines with rifle fire. According to Mike Richards, "the 'Orara' was laid up for some time after her early minesweeping efforts, and later in the war, about 1943, was refitted as a training ship".
In 1947 the 'Orara' was sold to a buyer in Shanghai. On reaching her new owners she was renamed 'Pearl River' and following a frequent Chinese practice, was renamed twice more to 'Hong Shan' and then 'Santos' in 1950.
On June 19, 1950 under the name 'Santos', the ship hit a mine about 12 miles off the Woo Sung Fort at the mouth of the Yang-tse River and sank with a regrettably heavy loss of life.
This particular ship model was donated to the Museum by the North Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd in 1954.