Named after a wreck

The rusting remains of the SS Kwinana used to be well known to thousands of holidaymakers.

Although known as the ‘Kwinana Wreck’ it was not really a wreck. The 3,295-ton steamship had already been stripped of everything of value before she was abandoned.

In her good years she was a coastal trader. At Carnarvon in 1920, fire broke out in the bunkers. After a hard fight the fires were brought under control, but not before the fierce flames had caused havoc, gutting most of the ship.

The master, Captain W. S. Myles, was instructed to bring her back to Fremantle, but the Kwinana was declared unseaworthy, so the crew refused to work unless they were paid extra for the risk they were taking.

The crew’s demands were finally met, so the Kwinana left for Fremantle escorted by the Kurnalpi, a small coastal steamer. Favoured by good weather the small convoy arrived in March 1921.

It was decided to do repairs in Fremantle to make the Kwinana seaworthy. These plans were never carried out. A collision with the SS Port Stephen in Fremantle Harbour further damaged the ship. Her owners decided to strip her and tow the hull to Garden Island.

But the ill-fated Kwinana was denied the peace of a floating graveyard. On 30 May 1922, a violent storm swept the area and she broke free from her mooring.

Driven to the mainland, she went hard aground at a spot still known as Kwinana Beach.