Historical information

The steamer S.S.CASINO was much loved by the whole Port Fairy community- with the possible exception of some of the fishermen whose boats she ran down!

Transport of the large quantities of wool, potatoes, onions, grain, sheep, cattle and other produce grown on the rich lands of the Western District Belfast was served by a plethora of shipping, both sail and steam, but only one of the steamers then in the regular trade (S.S. DAWN) would ever be able to get up the river and reap the cost savings of loading against a wharf. It was not unusual for four steamers to be anchored in the bay at once and for seven or eight different steamers to call during a week. A number of inter-colonial steamers also called to pick up produce for delivery to Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
Production in the Western District was increasing and virtually all of that production had to go through one of the western ports in order to reach markets.
By 1882 a meeting 15ft. March, 1882, in the office of auctioneer, J.B. HoIden in Cox Street took action and it was unanimously resolved - that the Belfast & Koroit Steamship Company be formed with a capital of £20,000 in 10,000 shares of £2 each". A number of steamers were offered by letter to the fledgling company, including the new and almost sister ships, CASINO and HELEN NICHOLL. The CASINO was on her delivery voyage from England was due to arrive in Warrnambool to load potatoes for Sydney and, initially, arrangements were made for her to call into Port Fairy for inspection by the BKNS Co directors. She eventually proceeded direct to Warrnambool and the Directors inspected her there. Without hesitation they purchased her even though they had to raise a large bank loan to do so. The CASINO arrived in Port Fairy on Saturday, 29th. July, 1882, steaming triumphantly up the Moyne River, and was greeted by crowds, many of whom had driven in from the surrounding countryside, which gave her “loud ringing English cheers".
By 1884 the CASINO could not carry all the cargoes available to her and in December of that year the company purchased the new steamer BELLINGER to provide additional capacity. She helped to open up the intermediate ports of Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, but the BELLINGER was not really suitable for the trade and she was sold in 1887, leaving the CASINO to operate alone -as she was to do for almost all of the next 45 years.
The opening of the railway in 1890 decreased the cargo available to the steamers and the economic depression of the early 1890's worsened the situation. The weak soon began to fall by the wayside and when the Portland & Belfast SN Co. decided to go into liquidation in April 1895, the Belfast & Koroit Company bought the Portland
Company's steamer DAWN on advantageous terms, a substantial part of the payment being in BKSN Co shares. The BKNS Co and the Howard Smith Line came into direct head to head competition and nearly forced the BKNS Co out of existence. Cargo dropped to such an extent that in 1899, they reached agreement that only one ship would run and that the ship which ran would pay a weekly amount to the competitor to stay out of the trade. This controlled service ceased in1909, and
competition intensified when Howard Smith placed the newly built, larger steamer EUMERALLA on the run.
The BKNS Co survived this competition and even prospered during it partly by extending on a more regular basis, the CASINO'S voyages to South Australian ports
Port Macdonnell, Kingston, Beachport, Robe and, on occasions Adelaide.
There were setbacks when, on 20 October 1924, CASINO went ashore at the Kennett River, near Apollo Bay, and again, in February l929, when she struck a submerged object at Warrnambool and had to be beached.
The railways placed great competitive pressure on the small steamship company and this pressure was intensified when the Great Depression slashed the market for Western District produce, BKNS Co struggled on, paying dividends in most years, and the company planned a big celebration for the CASINO'S fiftieth anniversary in the trade on 29th July, 1932. Disaster struck soon after 9 o'clock on the morning of Sunday I0 July, 1932 when the CASINO was lost at Apollo Bay together with the lives of 10 crew members.

Physical description

black and white panaramic photograph mounted on cardboard

Inscriptions & markings

Moyne River & East Beach Port Fairy- s.s.Casino-A.C.Aberline-Canterbury