SS Kwinana – a sad end for a pretty maiden

In 1912 the West Australian Government bought the SS Darius for the north-west coastal run and renamed it Kwinana, an Aboriginal word meaning “pretty maiden”. On Christmas Day 1920, she was severely damaged by fire at Carnarvon, and a year later was brought to Fremantle, stripped, and towed to a mooring in Cockburn Sound. She was originally offered for sale, but no takers. Her fate was decided when a westerly gale parted a cable and the ship drifted across the Sound to run aground. The wreck was the subject of fascinated interest to locals and visitors alike. In the years that followed there grew up within sight of the wreck a scattered village of holiday-makers cottages and homes, as well as those of some permanent residents. In 1936 this quiet beach holiday site got its first postal bag service and the postmistress, Clara Wells, decided to call it the “Kwinana wreck” bag to distinguish the mail from that destined for Rockingham. As the settlement grew it became known as Kwinana Beach and was officially adopted as a township in 1937. The remnants of the ship are still there today, although unrecognisable under a concreted fishing jetty. The name of Kwinana is at least known to every West Australian due to the building of the BP Refinery in 1953 which attracted other industries to the region. The SS Kwinana’s earlier name and the name of the post-mistress have been immortalised with the naming of a new community building in 2013 as the “Darius Wells Library & Resource Centre”. As the name implies, this building houses Kwinana Public Library as well as a Dome cafe with several local organisations housed upstairs. The Wells family is also remembered by having a park opposite Kwinana Beach named Wells Park.

One thought on “SS Kwinana – a sad end for a pretty maiden

  1. Can anybody fill in time line of Kwinana Beach Jetty?
    Year wreck was filled with limestone and then concreted.
    Year jetty was built joining onto wreck

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