On board the Wimmera on her departure from Melbourne on Wednesday 22 February 1905 was one of Australia’s accomplished early cinematographers, 36-year old Major Joseph (Joe) Perry, head of the Salvation Army’s Limelight Department. Accompanying Perry on his trip were two of his sons – S[tan] (Stanley) and O[rrie] (Orizaba) Perry.
Departing Hobart on Friday 24 February the Wimmera’s destination was Bluff, however on this occasion she made a detour to Milford Sound on the South Island’s West Coast. The opportunity was taken by Perry to record this visit, as reported in the Wanganui Chronicle:
‘The Huddart-Parker steamer Wimmera on her recent trip from Hobart to the Bluff made a visit to the West Coast Sounds. Favourable weather prevailed and a Salvation Army cinematograph operator was able to take some excellent views, including one showing the vessel approaching the ship’s lifeboat, in which the apparatus was fixed. On her return trip from Wellington to Hobart and Melbourne [t]he Wimmera will make another call at the Sounds.’
Unfortunately it is not known whether this early moving footage of the Wimmera still exists.
This was not the only occasion that Perry and his Salvation Army Biorama Band were aboard the Wimmera. Their next voyage on the vessel was in November 1907 when they returned to Australia from New Zealand, departing Bluff and arriving in Hobart on Thursday 28 November. They were mentioned by a writer, under the pseudonym of ‘Bleeding Heart’ in a letter to the DLF Letters from Old Writers column published in the Otago Witness of 18 December 1907:
“The wharves are very quiet here just now; there is only one boat in, a big Home boat, the Whakatane. She has been laid up here some time now, waiting for a cargo of wool, and is expected to sail some time next month. She seems to be part of the wharf now, and when she goes we will miss her for a time. The Maheno and the Wimmera were in on Monday, but sailed the same day for Dunedin and Melbourne respectively. The Salvation Army’s Biorama Band was on board the Wimmera, bound for Hobart, and they played some lovely music prior to the boat’s departure. They were at Bluff from Saturday till Monday, and on Sunday afternoon they played round the point on the Harbour Reserve, and it was a treat. There was a big crowd round the point; it looked a little like Bluff on Regatta Day.”
© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021