Historical information

Captain Benjamin Francis (Frank) Helpmann was once the owner of the S.S. CHAMPOIN, then owned it in partnership with S. G. Henty. S.S. CHAMPION was an early steamship and one of the first coastal traders to operate between Melbourne and Portland in Victoria from December 1853 until August 1857, when she collided with the S.S. LIRDY BIRD in the open sea off Cape Otway. CHAMPION was returning from Melbourne, and sank with thirty-two people still on board. The thirty others were saved by the LIRDY BIRD

(ref. The Story of a Port : Portland, Victoria, by Noel F. Learmonth)


This picture Lithograph) is associated with the S.S. Champion, which is listed on the Victorian Heritage Database VHR S110. The wreck of the SS Champion is significant historically as one of Victoria's worst shipwrecks. As an early steamship it played an important part in the development of and communications between the Western district and Melbourne . Although the site has not yet been located it is predicted to be highly significant archaeologically with the potential to yield information about early coastal shipping and the western district passenger and cargo trade. It is significant technically as an example of an early iron screw steamship, and is part of the western district steamship resource including the SS Casino, SS Coramba and SS Julia Percy.

Physical description

Painting. Lithograph of the schooner S S Champion, hand coloured watercolour, in a cedar frame behind glass. Unusual cross member bracing on the corners of the frame (one missing). Title "Iron S.S. Champion Frank Helpmann Esq. Comr" (in script) on bottom of picture.

Inscriptions & markings

On the bottom of the painting "Iron S.S. Champion" (in printing), "Frank Helpmann Esq. Comr" (in script)