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Photo Details
Photographer:Clyde Dickens [View profile]Title:MAHENOAdded:Sep 22, 2011
Captured:September 13, 2011IMO:UnavailableHits:3,123
Photo Category: Wrecks & Relics

75 mile beach, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia. 13 September 2011.

The word Maheno means ‘island’ in Maori, which is the native language of New Zealand. The Maheno was built in Scotland in 1904 and was the world’s first ever triple screw steamer, weighing a massive 5323 tonnes. It also held the blue ribbon in trans-atlantic crossing for several years after she was launched.

The Maheno was then used as a hospital ship in WW 1, following which it was purchased by a Sydney shipping company who planned to use it between Sydney and New Zealand. After several years of this trans Tasman journey the Maheno was sold to a Japanese shipping company, that at the time were running very low on funds.

The company made the decision to sell the huge brass propellers from under the still-working Maheno. The reason behind this was to fund the towing of the Maheno by a ship named the Ottawa back to Osaka, Japan. Once in Japan the Maheno was to be melted down and be sold as scrap metal.

On 25 June 1935 the ship was being towed from Melbourne when it was caught in a strong cyclone. A few days later, on 9 July 1935 she drifted ashore and was beached on Fraser Island. Luckily, there was only a skeleton crew on board. Some of the stories of the ship washing up on Fraser tell the tale of the Japanese crew being too afraid to get off the vessel after hearing of the cannibalistic traits of the local Aborigines.

Attempts were made to refloat the Maheno, but eventually it was left abandoned on what is now known as 75-mile beach.

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Photo Comments (11)

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Clyde Dickens on Sep 22, 2011 23:14 (9 years ago)
Thanks Ted. There is much 4 wheel drive tourist traffic along the beach. The black white sign is to attract the attention of those not watching where they are going. This shot was taken when the tide was going out. The island appeals to those who like getting close to nature, see

Captain Ted on Sep 22, 2011 21:36 (9 years ago)
hi all,,what is the black -white sign on her bow ?
Indeed a nice story behind her. thanks for posting Clyde
Clyde Dickens on Sep 22, 2011 21:09 (9 years ago)
Thank you very much Matrix1688. Welcome to the site. This is a classic case of how members can obtain and exchange interesting information.
matrix1688 on Sep 22, 2011 19:15 (9 years ago)
There is a pic of her, here.
Robert Smith on Sep 22, 2011 17:18 (9 years ago)
Possibly Gordy Ross has a picture of the original vessel. I'll contact him.
Mr. DOT on Sep 22, 2011 16:54 (9 years ago)
does anyone have a image of this original Maheno as a working vessel rather than a wreck site? mrdot.
Clyde Dickens on Sep 22, 2011 12:10 (9 years ago)
Thank you Chris and Clive for your corrections and comments. Once more this site will have better information than tourism promotion sites.
Chris Howell on Sep 22, 2011 10:46 (10 years ago)

You are right about the Blue Ribbon claim,her maiden voyage was from Glasgow via Durban and Australia, also her maximum speed was 17.5 knots.
Clive Harvey on Sep 22, 2011 09:12 (10 years ago)
This is a fascinating photo but I'm utterly intrigued by the statement that the Maheno held the Blue Ribbon for the fastest crossings of the Atlantic in the years shortly after her launching. I believe that in 1903 the Deutschland took that record and held it until it was taken from her in 1907 by the Lusitania. She retained this until until her sister, Mauretania, captured the record in 1909 and she retained this until the Bremen won it in 1929. Those were westerly crossings, Mauretania made the fastest eastbound Atlantic crossing in 1907. Nowhere do I see any mention of Maheno in the Blue Ribbon records.
Chris Howell on Sep 22, 2011 09:01 (10 years ago)
Also to correct a few facts.

She was laid up at Sydney in 1935 by Union SS, and the only interest in her was by the Osaka shipbreakers Miyachi Kaisen KK.

They also purchased the Union SS's Oonah and the original intention was to hire a tug to tow both to Japan for breaking up. In the event it was decided that Maheno would have her propellors removed and Oonah would tow Maheno to Osaka. They departed Sydney 3/7/1935 and got into difficulties on the morning of the 8th when the tow rope broke and the Maheno ran aground. The eight Japanese were able to get ashore the next day and a tug that arrived was unable to pull her off. A rapid buildup of sand sealed her fate.

She was never owned by anyone but Union SS and the shipbreakers. She survived past the 1920's due to the loss of the Manuka which ran aground between Bluff and Dunedin in 1929.

Chris Howell on Sep 22, 2011 08:51 (10 years ago)
I understand even today there is some very dangerous predators around the wreck, for examples salt water crocodiles,snakes,dingos,jellyfish,sharks to mention but a few.
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