Physical description

250 pages, Appendices, Bibliography and Indices, extensively illustrated

Publication type



This high-quality book is the extraordinary story of an ordinary little ship that had a long and eventful life. Perhaps few Australian coasters have had a more interesting and varied history. Built in Scotland in 1912 for the North Coast Steam Navigation Company, Tambar worked as a lifeline to isolated river and island communities, first in New South Wales, then for the Tasmanian Government and Holymans in Bass Strait (King Island) and as the last steamer serving the Gippsland Lakes. In between she even spent a few years in Papua New Guinea. When World War II broke out, Tambar was commissioned into the RAN as an auxiliary minesweeper, but after the terrible Darwin air raid in 1942 became the first vessel of the newly formed Salvage Board, later assisting in the search for survivors of the Battle of the Coral Sea. Returning to Bass Strait in 1944 for a few more years, she then spent the 1950s on standby as a salvage vessel in Melbourne, working on Merilyn, Terawhiti, E.J. Fairnie, and River Burnett.<br/><br/>Craig Mair grew up in Grangemouth, Scotland where Tambar was built, and became interested after inheriting a builder's model from his father. He has consulted thousands of records, including the ship's logs, tracked down witnesses, and assembled over 100 photographs and maps to give a unique insight into Tambar's story, and coastal Australia in the middle decades of the twentieth century, before roads took over the transport task. Besides many colourful stories of shipwrecks and strandings, strange cargoes, salty characters, exotic places, wartime air raids, and salvage jobs, the book includes a definitive account of the worst Second World War 'friendly fire' incident in Australian waters in Moreton Bay in 1942.