Historical information

This poster is typical of posters displayed by steam packet companies of the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. It advertises the passage and freight available on a local coastal trader. The steamships operated between the major ports along the western coast of Victoria between Melbourne and Portland. The traveller was not guaranteed the passage times due to possible weather changes. Discounts were offered for return trips within a month of the ticket's issue. The price of freight included 'lighterage', which was the service of a smaller vessel called a 'lighter' expressly designed to transport goods between ship and shore.

This particular poster advertises the services of the screw steamer SS Edina. The information on the poster applies to the years between 1871 and 1873. During that period the Master of the Edina was Captain John Thompson, the Edina was owned by the Warrnambool Steam Navigation Company and the secretary of the firm was Thos. Mackay. The passenger fares are in line with fares from that period, as seen in a display advertisement published in the Hamilton Spectator on January 17th, 1872.

The 1853 Glasgow-built Screw Ship Edina had a long life. The ship served in both the Crimean War and the American Civil War. The Edina also traded in UK and European waters. The Henty family of Portland, Victoria, purchased Edina in 1863 for use as a coastal trader. The Edina had several owners and spent many years of service along the South West Coast of Victoria between Melbourne and Portland. The vessel transported passengers and freight in Port Phillip Bay, between Melbourne and Geelong, between 1880 and 1938. After 84 years of service, the Edina was renamed ‘Dinah’ and was stripped down for use as a lighter. The vessel was broken up in 1957 at Footscray, Melbourne. The remains of Edina’s hull can be found in the Maribyrnong River, Port Phillip Bay.

The poster was owned by the donor's grandfather, Bruce Duff (1922-2003) who was an avid sailor and a lover of nautical history. He and his wife Mona (1924-2014) were buried in Portarlington Cemetery, Victoria. Duff would have been about 13 years old when the Edina was finally retired from service in 1938. His interest in the Edina could have come from a trip on the vessel or from watching it in operation in the ports along the coast. Duff has collected this poster as a memento of the Edina and is likely to have preserved it at a much later date when the lamination process was readily available. [Flagstaff Hill's collection includes a photograph of the Edina at the Moorabool Street Wharf, Geelong, which was in Duff's locality. The References for this poster include a link to Museum Victoria's photograph of two boys watching the Edina from a jetty.]

Flagstaff Hill's Village has its own 'Examiner' Office where volunteers demonstrate the historic printing press in that building. They use original letter-type to create posters, print labels onto lolly bags and designs on fabrics. One of the volunteer printers has produced a poster closely resembling the donated poster. His replication includes a woodcut of the ship, which he skilfully crafted himself.


This poster advertises the sailing of the steamer SS Edina and the information has local and State significance for its association with the trading ports of the Edina, and the associated names on the poster; Warrnambool Steam Navigation Company, Captain John Thompson and Thos. Mackay.

This poster's message has a strong connection to the history of the businesses and community of Warrnambool and the people of Port Phillip Bay, where it was a passenger ferry for many years.

The poster is an example of advertising used by shipping agents in the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. Its information includes the accurate costs to passengers and freighters and the type of timetable the vessels were likely to follow.

The poster's connection with the Screw Steamship Edina is historically significant, as the vessel was the longest serving screw steamer in the world. The ship spent its first nine years overseas then arrived in Melbourne. The vessel's work included running the essential service of transporting cargo and passengers between Melbourne and the western Victoria ports of Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland. The Edina is listed on the Victorian Heritage Database VHR S199.

Physical description

Poster, A3 size, brown text on cream paper, laminated. Poster of the Warrnambool Steam Navigation Company (Limited) advertising passage and freight on its Screw Steamship, SS Edina. It states days, times and fees for passage and freight from Warrnambool to Melbourne, and return. It names the ship's Master, Captain John Thompson and the Company's Secretary, Tho. Mackay. It displays a line drawing of a 3-masted ship with full sails.

Inscriptions & markings

Printed image [side profile of a 3 masted vessel, bow facing left]
Printed text includes
"The Warrnambool Steam Navigation Company (Limited). The Company's Steam Ship "EDINA", Captain John Thompson, Will leave Melbourne for Warrnambool on Tuesdays, returning from Warrnambool every Thursday, At Five o'clock p.m. (weather permitting).
FARES: Saloon £2 0 0 Steerage £1 0 0 Saloon return £3 0 0 Saloon return £1 10 00 - Children under 13 years half fares -
Refreshments supplied onboard at a moderate scale of charge.
Freight, including lighterage, - From Melbourne to Warrnambool - 12s per ton; from Warrnambool to Melbourne, 15s per ton.
Passengers are requested to obtain their tickets at the offers, and shippers to make early application for space.
Return tickets available for one month from date of issue.
- THO. MACKAY, secretary. "