Curl Curl

Type :
Steel screw steamer
Launched  :
27/02/1928
Builder :
Napier & Miller
Old Kirkpatrick, Scotland
Gross :
799 tons
Dimensions :
67.00 x 11.00 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
1587
Speed :
18 knots


Curl Curl
was the second of two identical ferries (the other being Dee Why) built in Scotland in 1928 for the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company.

She was the fastest ferry on the harbour, able to do the Manly run in 22 minutes, equal to the record set in 1912 by the Manly. However, unlike the Manly, she could consistently run at this speed.

Curl Curl, her sister Dee Why and later the South Steyne, all steamed out from Scotland under their own power - the first ferries to do so since the Brighton in 1883. Since the introduction of the Baragoola, ferry traffic had been growing to such an extent that the Manly company needed to aquire faster and larger ships. The cost to build them in Australia was too high, so the company looked to Scotland for their new ships.

First of the two new ships to arrive in Sydney was the Curl Curl on the 25th of November, 1928 after a voyage of more than 20 weeks. Dee Why followed soon after on the 1st of November. During the trip of the two ferries, they encountered heavy weather in the Bay of Biscay. Curl Curl suffered the only damage - a broken window. The twins stayed at Aden for 10 days and Port Said for 5 days due to a broken steam pipe on Curl Curl.  A further two month delay was due to both ferries waiting for the pass of the monsoon season.

Curl Curl's arrival was unexpected, she had shaved 5 days off travelling down the Queensland coast. Dee Why's arrival a few days later was in the middle of the night and because the harbour pilot refused to board her over her wide sponsons, she had to follow the pilot into the Heads and moor at Watsons Bay.

Dee Why had problems on the journey to Australia caused by troublesome crew. The captain put the troublemakers off in Aden and hired a stowaway found on board in their place.

Curl Curl had her share of tussles on the harbour - the first occurred on the 28th of April, 1929 when she collided with the launch Nimrod outside Circular Quay. Fortunately, the master of the ferry had seen the  launch in time and had ordered full astern. The ferry was going astern when the Nimrod struck. Fortunately no-one was injured.

On the 30th of April, 1930, Curl Curl and the harbour ferry Kiandra came to blows in almost the same spot. Curl Curl smashed through the wooden hull of the Kiandra and created a massive hole. Both masters realised that if the Curl Curl withdrew, the Kiandra would immediately sink, so Curl Curl's captain kept the bow of his ship locked fast into the smaller ferry. Locked into this awkward embrace, the two ferries limped together to the P&O dock where a pair of tugs took over the job. Curl Curl suffered a few bent plates.

In February of 1932 Curl Curl cut through the fence protecting the harbour pool at Manly. Divers were sent down to clear a rope that had wrapped round the propeller and she resumed her journey.

31st of March 1936 saw the Curl Curl grounded on rocks at Bradleys Head due to a thick fog. For more than an hour she was stranded before being located, the 50 passengers were offloaded to a launch and three tugs pulled her off the rocks. There was damage to a rudder and some bent plates, a week later, she was back in service.

In 1953, Curl Curl smashed into the wharf at Manly, causing herself extensive damage and destroying the offices of the local tourist board. Damage was done to the wharf as well, in some places  metres of wall were destroyed.

Curl Curl was retired out of service in 1960, a victim of the expensive fuel she required compared to the cheaper-running diesel powered vessels - the return of the refitted Baragoola spelt the end of the old steam ship. Both Curl Curl and Dee Why were suffering from hull weaknesses in one case and engine issues in the other - their steel had not aged well. Sold to Stride's, she was stripped of anything valuable and left to rust until, on the 13th of August1969, she was towed out to sea and scuttled near the Heads.