Historical information

Black and White Photograph of S.S Casino taken 1930-1932. Ship has men on deck and a man at the helm. Hills and the shore can be seen in the background.

The S.S. Casino was a passenger and freight steamer built in Dundee, Scotland, in 1882 for the Newcastle and Hunter River Steam Navigation Company of N.S.W. She weighed 425 tons gross with a length of 160.4 feet, beam of 24.1 feet and depth of 10.2 feet. She had saloon accommodation for 35 people, forecabin for 25 more people, and she carried 300 tons of cargo.

While on her delivery journey on May 30th 1882 the S.S. Casino called in at the Port of Warrnambool for coal ., narrowly escaping going ashore in gale force winds due to the quick action of the pilot. At that time, still at anchor, she impressed the directors of the Belfast and Koroit Steam Navigation Company so much that they bought her immediately; she was ideal for trade in along the West Coast of Victoria. (Belfast is the original name for Port Fairy, South West Victoria. The Belfast and Koroit Steam Navigation Company was first managed by Messers. Saltau and Osburne and after the passing of Mr. Osburne, by produce merchants Messers H. Sautau and Sons, whose had a hay and corn store and shipping agency was on the corner of Liebig and Koroit Streets in Warrnambool. )

The S.S. Casino became “the most famous steamer to operate in Victorian waters along the West Coast” by author Jack Loney. Captain Boyd was her first Master, followed by Captain Chapman, who stayed with her 1890 until 1924. Captain W. Robertson followed for a short term, then Captain Middleton then took command 1925 - 1932.

The S.S. Casino had several mishaps during her life. One was on 3rd January 1898 when she collided with the S.S. Flinders in Apollo Bay with minor damage. Another was on 24th October 1924 when she grounded on a reef at Point Hawdon near Grey River and most of her cargo (of Christmas goods) had to be dumped into the sea. Then in February 1929 she was ‘holed’ when she struck a submerged object as she entered Lady Bay, Warrnambool.

On the morning of 10th July 1932, after attempting to berth at Apollo Bay jetty in heavy seas, Captain Middleton decided to take her out into the bay and wait until the seas abated. It was not realised that the anchor used to steady her as she manoeuvred to her berth had pierced her hull. She put about and headed for the beach but sank. Captain Middleton and nine others lost their lives; nine people were rescued including the two female passengers .

Captain Middleton had been in charge of the S.S. Casino for seven years. He was the first ship’s Master to lose his life through shipwreck in the West Coast trade.

In the years following the turn of the century the S.S. Casino remained the only regular trader with normal passenger accommodation along the West Coast. From 1882 she had made at least 2,500 voyages on the one run.

Flagstaff Hill’s collection has a photograph of a portrait of Captain Chapman, , a ship model of the S.S. Casino that shows both forms of power under which she sailed, steam and sail. The ship is painted green and flies three flags. The inscription across the case of the ship model, incorrectly dated, tells the sad story of the wreck of the ship and the loss of lives on July 10th 1932 at Apollo Bay. A print in the Collection show S.S. Casino underway in heavy sea off Point Lonsdale, another two photographs show her at the Port of Warrnambool, leaving from the Breakwater in Lady Bay and another identifies the S.S. Casino as a ship from the Belfast and Koroit Steam Navigation Company. (Belfast is the original name for the township of Port Fairy).


This ohotograph is significant because of its association with the coastal trader S.S. Casino 1882-1932 and its significance to trade along Victoria's West Coast in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The wreck of the S.S. Casino is considered an important part of Victorian and Australian cultural heritage and as such has been declared and protected as an Historic Shipwreck under State and Commonwealth Law in the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976).

Physical description

Black and White Photograph of S.S Casino taken 1932-1932. Ship has men on deck and a man at the helm. Hills and the shore can be seen in the background.