The new addition to the Huddart Parker fleet took shape over a period of months. She was very similar ship to the Victoria, which had been constructed by Gourlay Bros. of Dundee and completed only two years earlier and which, in turn, had been modelled on the successful design of the Westralia. From the specifications for her construction, plans and newspaper reports the following description is derived:

Approaching the steamer as she lay alongside a wharf, passengers and visitors would be met by a 335-foot long steel vessel, with black hull and white topsides (superstructure) topped by a distinctive tall raked yellow funnel. Two similarly-raked steel pole masts, each higher than the funnel and equipped with four derricks were situated forward of the bridge and aft of the funnel.

A port-side view of the Wimmera, berthed alongside the wharf at Hobart, Tasmania
A port-side view of the Wimmera, berthed alongside the wharf at Hobart, Tasmania.
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

The length of the foremast was 131-feet whereas the main mast was 128-feet in length.

Although the hull was primarily black, this Huddart Parker steamer was also distinguished by two 3-inch ribbons of white paint that ran the length of the vessel and applied on both the top sides and between the boot-topping (red) and black. The upper portion of her bow was also painted white as were her draught marks. The bow was typical of vessels of the era by possessing an upright stem.

White iron rails and stanchions ran the length of the forecastle and (main) decks on each side.

On either side of her bow her name was placed in raised brass letters 10-inches in height – W I M M E R A.

Continuing along the wharf it would be noticed that the ship possessed a long topgallant forecastle about 100-feet in length and a full poop deck with bridge deck joined of approximately 200 feet in length.

On the forecastle deck were provided a steam windlass and capstan, sanitary and fresh water supply tanks, second class and crew’s companion houses, ventilators, bollards and fairleads, second-class saloon skylights and skylights over the berthing and lavatory accommodation, the jackstaff and a strong steel breakwater with doors etc. On this deck also was the No. 1 hatchway which was trunked up from the upper deck.

On the upper deck between the bridge and forecastle (or well) deck, there were two hatches – one cargo hatch and one coal bunker hatch. About 21 portable horse stalls, the carpenter’s shop, crew’s bath and w.c., second-saloon pantry, lamp and paint rooms, vegetable lockers, hold ventilators, two fresh water pumps (one at the after end of the forecastle and the other at the forward end of the bridge) as well as ladders, bollards and fairleads etc were provided here.

The steel deck plates on the upper deck were sheathed in the well deck from the break of the forecastle to break of poop with 5-inch by 3-inch teak.

Midships – ss Wimmera departing Wellington, New Zealand
Detail from Postcard. Author’s Collection.

All the first and second class accommodation, officers’ rooms, and alleyways under poop and forecastle decks (where not tiled) were sheathed in 4.5-inch by 3-inch pitch pine.

The galley, bakery, scullery, butcher’s shop, as well as all bathrooms, lavatories, and water closets in the first and second-class accommodation were tiled and covered with strongly-framed teak gratings.

Main superstructure SS Wimmera showing bridge, boat deck, house with main dining saloon.
Detail from Postcard. Author’s Collection.

A steel deck house was constructed at the fore-end of the bridge deck, and although not visible to the outside observer, this house contained the First Class dining saloon, vestibules, a staircase, pantry, bar and a lounge room. Above this was the boat deck which was noticeably fitted with three identically-sized lifeboats on either side. This deck also contained the captain’s room, a chart room, first and second officers’ rooms, the large dome-shaped skylight over the First Class dining saloon, as well as skylights over the galley, and the stairway which led from the vestibule to accommodation. The rooms on this deck were not steel but constructed and finished in well-grained teak and varnished. From this deck also rose the high yellow funnel secured by eight wires on each side. Large ventilators were located alongside and aft the funnel to draw in fresh air.

At the front end of the boat and bridge decks was fitted a navigating bridge which extended fully from one side of the vessel to the other. For the interested visitor, it was found to be complete with a teak steering wheel, a brass standard, compasses, telegraphs and speaking tubes which connected the bridge to the captain’s quarters and engine room.

In the centre of the ship under this steel bridge were located the gallery, scullery, butcher’s shop, gentlemen’s bathroom and room for the cook and baker.

Continuing further along the wharf towards the aft of the ship, the observer would notice that on the poop were located three separate deck houses. The first of these was located between the blue-painted No. 3 and No. 4 cargo hatches and contained a smoking room, smoking room lavatories, mast, as well as light and air shafts to the state rooms on the upper deck and to the smoking room. The deck over the smoking room ran the full width and length of the house. Upon it were fitted four steam cargo winches with steam pipes and connections, lead blocks for cargo falls. Skylights were fitted over the berthing accommodation and the smoking room and surrounding the deck were iron rails and stanchions.

The next house, located immediately ‘abaft’ No. 4 cargo hatch contained two 4-berth state-rooms, a social hall (or music room), companion-way and stairs leading from the poop deck to the first-class accommodation on the upper decks, light and air shafts to the stewards’ quarters, and a fruit store-room with locker underneath the stairs to the promenade deck.

The third and final house was located at the stern of the vessel and contained a steam steering engine and rudder fittings.

Promenade deck on a Huddart Parker steamer
Huddart Parker timetable. National Library of Australia.

The deck over the second and third houses was the promenade deck and extended to the full width of the ship and ran from the forward end of the staterooms in the second house to the stern of the vessel over the third house. It was also railed in the same manner. On the promenade deck was fitted a large oblong glass dome-shaped skylight over the social hall, a skylight over a light trunkway to the stewards’ quarters, a companion-way to the poop deck, hand steering gear, gratings, a compass, two lifeboats, seats, derrick crutches, electric lamp standards, and fair leads for the mooring ropes. To connect the deck house at the fore and aft ends of No. 4 hatchway were two portable teak gangways fitted with stanchions and chains.

Aft section of the Wimmera showing central and aft houses and elliptical stern.
Detail from Postcard. Author’s Collection.

The stern was elliptical in shape and should a visitor proceed further along the wharf and look back upon the vessel, would notice once again, the name of the vessel in raised brassed letters 10-inches high and underneath the vessel’s home or port or registry M E L B O U R N E in similar letters 8-inches in height.

Welcome Aboard

On crossing the gangway to board the steamer the passenger or visitor would step onto a deck of teak.

Passenger accommodation was located on the upper and poop decks. These comprised cabins and sleeping berths for 170 first class or saloon passengers and 100 second-class or steerage passengers.

First Class Saloon

The first-class dining room, as described earlier was located on the poop deck. Seating was provided for 73 persons at a single long table for … located in the centre, together with … tables for … on either side plus padded bench seating on three sides. The room was finished in polished oak, with carved panels, pilasters, etc.

The saloon was fitted out in handsomely designed polished oak and richly carved, with double swing doors at entrances on both sides, and the upper parts of the doors fitted with stained glass. All the columns in the saloon were covered with polished wood, and of Corinthian design with richly carved capitals. The roof was richly panelled and decorated, painted [white and relieved with gold.

Above the dining saloon was a large dome-shaped skylight, which, together with six portholes forward and eight portholes on each side, would provide the passenger with a bright and light area in which to dine.

The saloon tables were of polished wood, the same as the panelling, with the (usual) fiddles conveniently arranged. There was a large handsomely carved and polished sideboard, with electro-plated rails and a Victoria (or Rouge) one-piece marble table top. Butler’s racks for crystal, and enclosed racks with bevelled glass fronts for electro-plate etc were also provided. In a suitable position on the wall was a clock in a handsome carved case. Above the piano was provided a large bevelled glass mirror in a richly carved frame.

First Class Dining Saloon SS Wimmera
Detail from Postcard. Author’s Collection.

The chairs fitted round the tables in the saloon were of the eccentric revolving type, each with a carved design in harmony with the saloon fittings and having the Huddart Parker badge carved inside the backs, and the number on each chair provided in electro-plate.

All chairs, sofas, and sofa backs were upholstered in moquette or other material of the best quality and stuffed with curled grey horse hair. The seating were fitted with springs and the seams piped with leather.

Curtains were fitted to all sidelights by rings and rods and all hardware in the saloon electro-plated.

At one’s feet were five-frame Brussels carpet runners. A mat, with the company’s flag, was provided at each doorway.

American cloth covers were provided for all tables and Holland covers for all chairs, settees, and settee backs in the dining room as well as in the ladies’ drawing room, the hall at the foot of the stairs, alcoves and in the music room.

The saloon was especially well provided with electric lamps. On each side and end, all round were fitted “handsomely designed” electric light bracket lamps with cut glass globes.

In the centre of the saloon, suspended from the centre of the dome was fitted a large handsome cluster electrolier. Other handsome electric lamps were suspended from the roof over the tables. All lamps were electro-plated.

Below the dining room seating between the tables were fitted four lockers each with a door hinged at the bottom and folded downwards.

The saloon vestibules were fitted out in polished wood, (teak or oak) in harmony with the saloon. The floors were covered with the best quality perforated rubber mats. The vestibule on the starboard side of the ship had the entrance to the pantry and the stairs (communicating) with the first-class accommodation was fitted with handsome balustrading.

The vestibule on the port side had the entrance to the bar and lounge room.

The stairway from the vestibule to the first-class accommodation had been made as large as possible and fitted out in polished teak. It was lit from sidelights in the ship’s side and from a skylight above. To avoid slipping, the stairs were covered with portable india rubber treads, brass bound and with toeplates in polished brass. As well as being lit with natural light, the vestibule and stairs were also well lighted with electric lamps.

Smoking Room and Social Hall

First Class Smoking Room SS Wimmera
Detail from postcard. Author’s Collection.

Visitors to the smoking room and to the social hall would notice that both were ‘handsomely’ fitted in hard wood, with carved enrichments.

The smoking-room is panelled with oak, and the seats are upholstered in morocco, to match the walls, and looks very cosy.

The smoking room was fitted out with broad seating, with partitions. The seats, seat backs and divisions were upholstered in the best quality Morocco leather, stuffed with curled grey horsehair. All of the seats and backs were portable and seats fitted with springs. Around the top of the back of the seats was a glass rack. The whole of the interior of the smoking-room below the roof and not occupied by seating was ‘handsomely’ panelled in well-seasoned and richly-figured Spanish mahogany. The panelling was surmounted with and subdivided with handsome cornices, dados, and stiles, with carved Corinthian capitals. Looking up you would view the roof covered and neatly panelled in wood, painted white and picked out with gold.

Passengers using the smoking-room were provided with a number of St. Ann’s marble-topped tables. The floor of the room was covered with I.R. matting in 2 foot squares, throughout. Polished woodwork shone where painted and the room was well lit with electric lamps in brackets with ‘handsome’ auxiliary oil lamps.

For passengers requiring the use of ‘facilities’, the lavatory attached to the smoking-room was panelled in yellow pine and painted enamel white with a tiled floor. It was fitted with a wash hand stand with two oval porcelain basins with taps, the top of the stand being polished St. Ann’s marble, and the remainder of polished mahogany. Also provided was a good-sized bevelled glass mirror in a mahogany frame, together with water bottle and toilet racks, hat and coat hooks, towel hooks, and a towel roller. The mens’ urinal attached to the smoking-room was also panelled out in yellow pine and painted enamel white with a tiled floor. Two urinals were fitted,with back, ends next casings, and division of polished St. Ann’s marble. The sanitary water supply to the urinals was salt water and discharge pipes from both the urinal and lavatory were through the floors of these rooms and discharged overboard through the ship’s sides.

Second-Class Dining Saloon

The second-class dining saloon, together with pantry, berthing accommodation, lavatories, bathrooms and w.c.s, rooms for petty officers and servants, stairway lockers etc were located under the forecastle deck. The berthing accommodation in this area was to fitted up for about 72 passengers in enclosed rooms, 31 in open berths as well as eight in the dining room.

Passenger Accommodation

Accommodation for the second-class passengers was fitted for approximately 111. Each room had accommodation for five passengers, having three fixed berths plus a sofa and sofa back which could be arranged to form another two berths. The sofas and sofa backs in the dining saloon were also to form berths. All of the fixed berths were of the Hoskin & Sons’ make and included head, foot and lee rails and supported on the outside corners with brackets and stanchions. All of the fixed, portable, sofa and sofa back berths for the second-class passengers were fitted with orient wire mattresses with chain and coil springs.

Each of the second-class passenger rooms was fitted with a polished mahogany tip-up lavatory, with a wash basin, soap dishes, mirror and chamber cupboard on the bottom, as well as , combined bottle & glass racks. All fittings were to be in the same general design as those in the first-class state rooms.

Open berths in the fore part also were to be of the Hoskin & Sons’ make and again fitted with orient wire mattresses.

Each room was to be fitted with candle lamps, towel, hat and coat hooks, stay and jar hooks, morticed locks, door handles and finger plates. All of the hardware was strong brass.

The framing of the state-rooms was yellow pine and neatly panelled with iron fretwork at the top and bottom.

The ship’s sides and bulkheads throughout the second-class accommodation was lined with 3-inch tongue and grooved yellow pine, fitted vertically, and lockers in the athwartships passages had polished teak tops.

Plates with berth numbers were located on not only the outside of the rooms but also on each berth. Name plates were also located on all parts throughout the accommodation area.

On one side in each fore and aft passageway and athwartships passageway were provided storm rails of polished teak supported in strong brass bronzed brackets.

All of the second-class accommodation area, where not polished wood was painted out with white enamel paint.

Three lavatories were to be provided in the second-class accommodation area, each fitted with four good sized basins; the tops of the basin stands to be of St. Ann’s marble, and each room was fitted with good sized mirrors and toilet racks.

Crew Accommodation

Crew were accommodated under the upper deck forward, with separate rooms for sailors and firemen. Each room was fitted with bunks, seats, tables and lockers fitted to each berth for each man. The entrance to the crew’s quarters was from the companion on the forecastle head. Ventilation came via the forecastle deck. On the main deck on the fore side of the collision bulkhead were fitted the Boatswain and sail lockers. These were accessed by a hatch through the second-class accommodation.

At the forward end of No. 1 lower hold were fitted tanks with the capacity of 5000 gallons of fresh water. These were connected to the fresh water pumps in the well deck.

Should one desire to ask, the technical details

The Wimmera was to be built as a steel passenger and cargo screw steamer measuring 335 feet in length and 43 feet in breadth. She was to be schooner-rigged with two steel pole masts. The vessel was to have an upright stem and an elliptical stern, a full poop and bridge joined, and a long topgallant forecastle. The vessel’s engines, which were also to be constructed by Cairds, were to be placed as nearly amidships as practicable. A steel house was to be built at the fore end of the bridge and was to contain a first-class dining saloon, vestibules, staircase, pantry, bar, and lounge room. The boat deck, to be built over the steel house, was to be fitted with six lifeboats, the captain’s room, chart room, first and second officers’ rooms, a large dome-shaped skylight over the dining saloon, and skylights over the galley and the stairway leading from the vestibule to accommodation.


Berthed at Huddart, Parker, and Co.’s wharf, the new liner Wimmera was yesterday the object of considerable attraction.

She is a rakish-looking steamer, with a lofty funnel and two pole masts, and bears a striking resemblance to the company’s well-known steamer Victoria. Excepting that her accommodation is even superior to that of the Victoria, she is generally a couterpart of the latter vessel. The dining saloon on the Wimmera is amidships, and will commend itself to the travelling public. The apartment may be entered from the promenade deck. The sensation of “stuffiness” experienced in vessels having their saloons “below” is unknown on the Wimmera, and the greatest possible inducements to dine in comfort are offered to passengers. The high reputation enjoyed by the Victoria as a comfortable sea-boat no doubt led Huddart, Parker, and Co. Proprietary, Limited, to have the Wimmera built on similar lines, and judging from the remarks made by passengers by the new vessel, she promises to rapidly establish herself as a public favorite.

The Wimmera was built at Greenock by the well-known firm of Caird and Company, who have constructed over 60 mail steamers for the P. and O. line. Caird and Company are considered the premier shipbuilders of the Clyde, and their name is sufficient guarantee of the excellence of the Wimmera. The new vessel is 335ft. long, 42ft, beam, 24ft. moulded depth. She has accommodation for 164 first saloon passengers, 101 second saloon passengers and 75 of a crew. The first saloon dining hall, music room and smoking house are contained in three steel houses on the promenade deck. The dining hall has seating accommodation for 80 passengers, and is panelled in hand-carved oak of floral design, having a stained glass dome over the centre table, the upholstery being of crimson moquette.

The music room is panelled with hand-carved walnut and oak ; upholstered with dark green plush, having a dome over the central staircase; the smoking room is panelled in hand-carved dull-oak, and the seatings are of dull-read morocco. The ladies boudoir adjoins the ladies’ sleeping accommodation, and is beautifully furnished and upholstered. All the cabins are roomy…

The Daily Telegraph, Friday, November 25, 1904



This latest addition to the fleet of Messrs. Huddart, Parker, and Company arrived at Hobart yesterday morning, and, naturally, attracted a lot of attention in shipping circles and from the general public.  The Wimmera bears a striking resemblance to the s.s. Victoria, and except that her accommodation is even superior, she is generally a counterpart of the latter vessel. She was built at Greenock on the Clyde by Messrs Caird and Company, the famous P. and O. builders, and her tonnage in 3,021.  She is 335ft. overall with 42ft beam and 24ft moulded depth. Accommodation is provided for 164 saloon and 101 second saloon passengers, and a crew of 75 all told is carried. There is a spacious promenade deck, and an innovation that will be appreciated is, that the dining saloon, social hall, and smoking-room are enclosed in steel houses on that deck.  The first-named apartment is capable of seating 80 persons, and is tastefully arranged. The woodwork is of hand-carved, white oak, of floral design, the chairs being upholstered in crimson. Ample light is afforded by a spacious and handsome stained-glass dome in the centre of the saloon.  The social hall is panelled in hand-carved walnut and oak, and upholstered in dark green plush, whilst a stained-glass dome gives an imposing and cheerful appearance to the apartment.  The smoking-room is panelled with oak, and the seats are upholstered in morocco, to match the walls, and looks very cosy.

The cabins are roomy, well-lighted, and replete with all the latest improvements for passenger comfort, whilst the results of the great attention given to ventilation and other sanitary matters are observable everywhere. Retiring-room, hot and cold shower and spray baths are fitted, nothing in the way of expense or effort being wanting to ensure the most complete comfort of travellers.  The second-class accommodation is forward of the bridge, and is all that could be desired.  The cabins are large and airy, and well lighted and the dining-hall is of polished mahogany, in crimson maquette.

The vessel has a double bottom throughout her entire length thus ensuring greater safety in the event of striking an object at sea. The engines, boilers, and other machinery were supplied by the builders, Messrs. Caird and Company, of Greenock. The engines  are triple expansion, having cylinders of 27½ in., 45 in. and 72 in. in diameter respectively, with a 48 in. stroke. There are three boilers, two double-ended, and one single-ended, working at a pressure of 180lb. to the square inch. Among the many notable features of the Wimmera is the Welin system of quadrant davits for clearing the boats. In this patent the old arrangement of swinging davits is done away with, and the new process is so simple and expeditious, that during a course of boat drill on board two inexperienced persons cleared a large lifeboat in under thirty seconds.  Captain J. B. Rainey, late of the company’s Westralia, is in charge, and has with him the following officers: – W. H. South, Chief Officer ; D. J. Morris, Second Officer ; R. Darroch, Third Officer ; W. Arkins, Chief Engineer ; W. R. Hutchinson, Second Engineer  ; C. J. Bates, Third Engineer ; W. H. Edrie, Fourth Engineer ; Purser, F. Chambers ; M. Lindsay, Assistant Purser ; T. Miles, Chief  Steward.

The Mercury, Saturday Morning, December 17, 1904

Like a number of other Huddart Parker vessels, ie:  Elingamite, Burrambeet, Barwon and Yarra, the name Wimmera appears to have been chosen as it was a body of water, ie. river or lake in Victoria. It is not known if the members of the board of Huddart Parker had any connections to the district although William.T. Appleton, the company’s … and later it’s Managing Director was also the first chairman of the Western and Wimmera District Freezing Company. He also acted as purser on her maiden voyage and was present at her launch.

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021