Heritage VIC




Tullaberga Island, near Gabo Island and Mallacoota

VHR Number


Date lost


Year of construction


Statement of Significance

The American steamer Monumental City was one of the first screw steamers to cross the Pacific, attracted by the Victorian gold rush. It had previously been involved in the Californian gold rush carrying passengers from Nicaragua to San Francisco as they crossed the American continent from Europe and the east coast of America. The surviving engine parts and propellor are significant as they represent a transition phase from wooden hulled steamships to iron screw steamships, and a phase of rapid development in marine steam engine technology. It is also rare as at the time most American steamships were paddle steamers. It had a short career on the Australian coast, being wrecked on Tullaberga Island after only one month in service. Thirty seven lives were lost in the disaster, of whom 35 were passengers including its owner, and it led to the building of the Gabo Island lighthouse.

Physical Description  
Construction Material Wood
Hull Details Ship rigged (?), single deck, round stern, no galleries, figurehead
Propulsion Steam - Screw
Engine Builder 2 direct acting oscillating. 44 inch diameter cylinders with a 3 stroke. 119 horsepower (nominal)
Number of Masts 3
Length / Breadth / Depth 174.83 Feet / 29.75 Feet / 15.0 Feet
Builder Murray and Hazlehurst
Built Date 1850
Built Port / Country Baltimore, Maryland / United States of America
Registration Port / Country Baltimore / United States of America
S.S. Monumental City was a single-decked, ship-rigged wooden single screw steamer, built in 1850 in Baltimore USA. The ship was originally built for trade in the Hawaiian Islands, which didn?t turn out to be economical. The vessel was then put on the Panama to San Francisco run to transport passengers chasing gold discovered in California in 1848. However, this wasn?t a great success either, as Monumental City?s engines proved unreliable and too slow to capture a consistent share of the market. Monumental City became the second steamship ( preceded by Conside a few months earlier) to cross the Pacific in 1853, arriving in Sydney in only 65 days. From there, the ship then headed south to Melbourne, taking 166 passengers heading to the Victorian gold fields. However on the return journey to Sydney, Monumental City ran aground at Tullaberga Island near Mallacoota with the loss of 37 lives (Staniforth 1986 163-164). The remains of the wreck lie in very shallow water and there is very little coherent ship remains. The engine and propeller, three anchors and some broken crockery are the main elements remaining from the ship (Anderson 1999:36-37). Heritage Victoria holds 39 artefacts from Monumental City.
Voyage Details  
Date Lost 15/05/1853
Voyage from Melbourne to Sydney
Owner M. Strobed
Master of Vessel Captain William Henry Adams
Weather conditions
South easterly
Cause of Loss
Navigational error
Further Details  
Number of Passengers 46
Comments on Passenger
Of the 8 Cabin passengers only Mr Gavin McKerrow ( Mc Harrow? ) survived. 2nd Class Passengers: Mr W.C. Howard, of Melbourne Charles Johnson, of Melbourne John Fisher, of Melbourne James Wheeler, of Melbourne Peter Ferguson, of Sydney Samuel Di
Number of Crew Members 45
Comments on Crew Members
Mr Edward Van Sice, 1st Officer Mr W H Adams, Second Engineer Mr William V Cutter , Second officer Edward Roberts, seaman Charles Vine, seaman Charles Stone, seaman Elijah Beale, seaman William Hilton ( Nelson?), seaman Mr William Duncan, chief