Grafton Rowing Club History: Early Shipping 10
Australian Rowing Professional
Flooding Grafton
Early Shipping on the Clarence

Early Shipping 10 - "Noorebar", "Iolanthe" and "Woolwich"

S.S. "Noorebar" at the North Coast Steam Navigation wharf in Grafton about 1908
(below the current site of the Grafton Bowling Club - just west of the Crown Hotel).
The small steamers at the bow of the "Noorebar" are the "Woolwich" (left)
and the "Iolanthe" (right)

The "Noorebar" was a steel S.S. built in 1904 at Kinghorn. She was 56.3 metres (185 feet) in length and 670 tons. Originally owned by G. Nicoll, she was sold to the North Coast Steam Navigation Company on arrival in Australia from the U.K.

The native name "Noorebar" means "Place where the the Noore Vine grows". (There is an area near Bangalow and Byron Bay called Newrybar - perhaps there is some relationship here ?)

The "Noorebar" was sold to Fiji in 1920, resold to Djambi, Sumatra in 1924, and unregistered in 1932. She was reported in the earthquake at Rabaul in 1937.

The "Woolwich" (above) and "Iolanthe" (below) were river boats, making regular runs along the Clarence

At one stage owned by South Grafton merchant J. McKittrick, the "Woolwich" and "Iolanthe" were sold to Captain Charles Pullen of Cowper who already had a river boat business with the "Ethel" and "Young Dick". Other river boats of  the era included the "Atlanta, "Lady Beatrice", "Otis", "Clarence", and "Favorite", as well as the later "Moongi", "Mulgi" and "Mooli".

The river boats served as transport for passengers and goods alike, with goods such as milk, maize and potatoes regularly carried - they even delivered the morning "Daily Examiner" to farms by steaming along about 25 metres offshore so that a deckhand could throw a pressed copy of the paper onto the shore to be retrieved by the farmer's dog.

The "Iolanthe" was best known for her regular run from Grafton to the Clarence Heads, whilst the "Woolwich" ran from Grafton to Chatsworth. In the 1920s, it was possible to leave Copmanhurst on the "Atlanta" at noon, and catch the 3:00 pm Pullen's steamer at Grafton and be in Yamba before nightfall - much quicker than travelling by coach!