The Wreck Of The SS Maheno

The ocean liner SS Maheno was built in Scotland and first set sail in June 1905. She could carry 420 passengers with 240 of those in 1st Class and was fitted out with all the latest luxuries including electricity.

English: Maheno, the steamship whose hull now ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From 1905 she operated on a trans-Tasman route between New Zealand and Australia until she became a hospital ship for the New Zealand Navy during World War One. After the war the Maheno returned to her original use. In 1935 she was sold to a Japanese shipping company for scrap metal. The fateful decision was made to remove and sell her brass propellers to fund the cost of towing her from Sydney to Osaka by the SS Oonah, a Bass Strait Ferry also destined for the scrap yard.

On 7 July 1935, off the coast of Fraser Island, an unseasonal cyclone struck both ships, the towline broke and without her propellers the Maheno disappeared in the rough seas. The ship was found on 10 July stranded on Seventy Five Mile Beach, with the crew safely camped on the shore.


Unsuccessful attempts were made to refloat the ship and eventually she was put up for sale. No-one ever bought her and she was simply abandoned on the beach.


Since then the Maheno has been left at the mercy of the ocean and today she is nothing more than a rusted hulk, so dangerous that access is forbidden.




In this state it’s hard to imagine how grand she must have been in her glory days.

9 thoughts on “The Wreck Of The SS Maheno

  1. Oh wow. She looks so different today. But I’m secretly glad she didn’t make it to the scrapyard. I imagine the owners didn’t think so though!

    This SS Oonah – I’ve come across a ship by that name operating around NZ and Australia in my research of the Titanic deck officers’ former and later ships. Wonder if it could be the same one?


    • It is probably the same ship. When I was researching it was only mentioned as the ship that towed the Maheno but there would be more to its story for sure. I bet the owners weren’t thrilled to lose their ship to the ocean.


  2. We are lucky there are photos. what an amazing site it must be just sitting there on the beach, has it been buried much? I am surprised that no one thought to cut it up there and cart away the metal. Perhaps that would have been too expensive.


    • It didn’t seem to be too buried in the sand when we saw it Leanne. It probably changes with the tides and the weather. I wonder if there is a law about removing parts of a wreck. The cost could well have been prohibitive, considering it’s on the island and not the mainland.


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