Despite the busy schedules of the Huddart Parker’s coastal and Trans-Tasman liners, the Wimmera was not always confined to her regular passenger and cargo runs. During the 1913 Christmas period her services were advertised for other activities.
For the sum of 4/- per adult and 2/- per child locals could enjoy a Boxing Day marine excursion to the Southport regatta with “no sea sickness.” Scheduled to leave the Argyle Street Pier at 9am the excursionists could not only enjoy the music of the Derwent Infantry Band who had been specially engaged for the trip but also view the ships of the visiting Australian Fleet, for in port also were the battleship HMAS Australia, the cruisers HMAS Melbourne & HMAS Sydney and the destroyers Parramatta and Warrego.
On Saturday 27 December the Hobart Mercury reported the day’s events:
A WELL-ATTENDED FUNCTION.
Among the list of holiday attractions yesterday was a very successful function – the Southport regatta – which attracted a great number of visitors both from Hobart and outlying districts of the Channel and Huon River. The regatta is held alternately at Southport and Esperance, and as Esperance had its turn last year its sister outport was en fete yesterday.
The s.s. Wimmera, Messrs. Huddart, Parker and Co.’s 3,000 odd ton passenger steamer, with the Cartela and Excella, made the trip from Hobart, and the anticipation of a pleasant channel trip, with no fear of seasickness, induced a large number of people to travel by the larger steamer, and have a pleasant day’s outing.
The Wimmera left Argyle-st. Pier at 9.30 a.m. with about 450 passengers, including the Derwent Infantry Band, and a very pleasant trip was experienced. The weather was fine, and the sparkling sea and tree-clad hills, dotted on the lower slopes with orchards, made the districts of the Channel and Bruni Island appear very pleasing. After passing the mouth of the Huon River, however, the sky clouded over, and a rather cold breeze sprang up. Consequently when Southport was sighted the district, under the threatening sky, was not seen at its best. While the passengers were being transferred to the little Excella to be taken ashore the sun came out again, and for the rest of the day good weather – though a trifle chill – prevailed. The river steamers Waldemar and Huon had brought loads of visitors from the Huon districts, and with the Cartela and the Ronnie was already berthed side by side with the others. Consequently when the Excella with her load from the Wimmera drew in as well the five vessels were side by side, and the Wimmera people had to scramble over four vessels in order to land.
Meanwhile Southport was putting its holiday attire on, and soon presented an unusually gay and animated scene. The auxiliary ketch Alice, which had been declared the flagship of the day, was gaily dressed with flags, as also were the Wimmera and the small fleet of river steamers. A flotilla of yachts, motorboats, and small craft, etc, were lying at anchor, and with the luncheon tents, merry-go-round, etc., Southport was looking its best.
The bay upon which Southport stands has a broad expanse of water, and plenty of breeze, and the yachts spanked along at a cheery pace when once started. …
The Mercury, Saturday 27 December 1913, page 3
Huddart Parker not only provided the services of the Wimmera for this Boxing Day excursion but also, on one other occasion, advertised the vessel for an excursion to the former penal settlement at Port Arthur.
A most successful trip to Port Arthur was made yesterday by the s.s. Wimmera, carrying about 700 excursionists. A start was made from the Hobart wharf shortly before 9 a.m. and, although on the run down the wind was somewhat keen, the conditions in other respects was ideal, and everyone had an enjoyable time
The Wimmera anchored some distance away from the Carnarvon wharf, and the passengers were carried over on the motor-launch Alonnah, by which means they were landed in three instalments. About 3 ½ hours were allowed them for seeing the historic sights, and an interesting time was spent by the holiday-makers in looking over the ruins of the various buildings which formerly formed part of the penal establishment of unhallowed memory. The weather during the afternoon was genial, and many of the visitors took advantage of the opportunity afforded them of seeing the sports and wood-chopping contests in the reserve adjoining the Town-hall, in which building afternoon tea was served as a means of augmenting the Red Cross Fund. Starting on the return trip about 4 o’clock, the run home was made in good style, and the excursionists were landed at 7.45 p.m.
The Wimmera was in charge of Captain H. J. Kell and the Hon. J. W. Evans, C.M.G., M.H.A., and Mr. J. W. Furlong, manager and sub-manager respectively of the Huddart Parker Proprietary Ltd., were on board, supervising the arrangements generally. The catering was carried out satisfactorily by Mr. Verge, the chief steward, and his staff. The enjoyment of the trip was greatly enhanced by the musical selections rendered by the Tasmanian Military Band.
In February 1914 protests were made about the state of the wharf at Port Arthur and that this possibly prevented larger vessels such as the Wimmera and Paloona from making more visits to the port than they did.
© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021