Ships and Tugs

SS Birksgate

The 916 ton SS Birksgate was part of the fleet owned by the Australian Steam Navigation Company (A.S.N.) which operated from 1839 to 1887. The company amalgamated with the Queensland Steam Shipping Company in 1887 to form the Australian United Steam Navigation Company. (A.U.S.N.) The Birksgate was later sold to the Adelaide Steamship Company. (Wikipedia)

The steam ship  Birksgate passing Kangaroo Point in 1885. (State Library of Queensland)

“The old A.S.N. steamer the Birksgate arrived in port at 5 o’clock yesterday morning bearing the Adelaide S.S. Co.’s colors on her funnel. She looks as spick and span as she did 20 years ago. For the past 3 ½ years she has been trading between Sydney and Fiji She is now under the command of Captain Thorpe and on this voyage from Melbourne to Cairns via ports, she just escaped the rough weather prevailing in the south.”
(Morning Post, Cairns, 6 May 1902)

Pilot Boat Captain Heath

The pilot boat Captain Heath was launched in February 1941 just seven months after the Story Bridge was opened. The boat was named in honour of Captain George Poynter Heath, the first port master of Brisbane who also built the historic home ‘Hanworth’ at 109 Lytton Rd, East Brisbane

MV Captain Heath near the Story Bridge, August 1946. (Queensland State Archives)

For more information on Captain Heath’s house Hanworth see

Steam Tug Forceful
Steam tug Forceful pulling the SS Orungal up the Brisbane River. (State Library of Queensland)

The tug Forceful  in action pulling the A.U.S.N. ship Orungal up the river. The photo was taken at Wharf no. 5 at Circular Quay in Brisbane in 1953.

The SS Orungal was a steam turbine passenger/cargo ship built in 1923. In November 1940 she ran aground at Barwon Heads, Victoria. She burnt down during salvage operations in December 1940 when several explosions erupted from the engine room. Read more about her at

Tug Forceful in action on 19 January, 1939Tug Forceful helping the coaster steamer Canberra to berth, 1939. (News Ltd/Newsphotos)

The coastal steamer Canberra swinging with assistance from the tug Forceful before berthing in the Brisbane River, in shadow of the Story Bridge construction in Brisbane, Queensland.

Forceful about to pass under the Story Bridge 1950sForceful approaching the Story Bridge in the 1950s. (Vintage Queensland)

Forceful at the Maritime Museum 2020Forceful at the Maritime Museum in September 2020. (supplied: C. Gerard)

Forceful with the Kangaroo Point Cliffs in the background Forceful with the Kangaroo Point Cliffs in the background. (undated, Lost Brisbane)

Long ship at South Brisbane

A long ship docked at wharves in the South Brisbane Reach (looking north) around 1915. Parliament House is visible in the background.A long ship docked at South Brisbane Wharves in 1915. (State Library of Queensland)

Tugs Forceful and Carlock

Forceful on the left and Carlock on the right are repositioning the dredge Coral to the city side of Kangaroo Point in November 1953.Tugs Forceful and Carlock in action at Kangaroo Point 1954. (Brisbane City Council Archives)

Barge at Kangaroo Point

Close-up of a barge docked at the tip of Kangaroo Point with a clear view of the city wharves and the city.Barge docked at Kangaroo Point in 1954. (supplied: imageshack)

Navy ship SS Duntroon

Drawing of the  navy steamship Duntroon approaching the Story Bridge, possibly turning to berth at the Evans Deakin fit out wharf. (undated)SS Duntroon near the Story Bridge. (undated/ State Library of Queensland)

Proserpine and Lucinda

The water police boat Proserpine (on the right), and the Government ship Lucinda (on the left) moored off South Brisbane in 1891. (Queensland Police museum)

Proserpine and Lucinda moored off South Brisbane 1891. (Police Museum)

Submarines at Stanley Wharf 

New australian submarines Oxley and Otway arrive and berth at the Stanley Wharf, South Brisbane on 7 February 1929.
They had left Portsmouth a year earlier on 8 February 1928 and ‘during the run across the Bay of Biscay experienced bad weather and suffered a severe battering. They were delayed at Malta for several months undergoing repairs, and subsequently were attached to the Mediterranean Fleet for exercises. The departure for Australia was so arranged that the Oxley and Otway would avoid the south-west monsoons during the voyage across to Thursday Island.’

They  reached Thursday Island on 23 January 1929 where they took on supplies of oil fuel from the Navy supply hip H.M.A.S. Platypus. After a stop at Townsville on 31 January the submarines arrived in Brisbane on 7 February 1929.

Submarines Otway and Oxley at Stanley Wharf, South Brisbane in 1929. (Queensland State Archives)

The two submarines are of the latest design. They are of the British O class and are recognised as of the best all-round type in the world. The 12,000 miles trip has been of great interest to authorities throughout the world, inasmuch as this is the first time under-water craft have come to Australia unaccompanied.

SS Bulimba

The Bulimba near Kangaroo Point in the days before the Story Bridge.SS Bulimba near Kangaroo Point. (State Library of Queensland)