28 December 2014

Australia (Queensland) - Maheno Shipwreck : A Ghostly Sculpture by the Sea

Date of Exploration : 21 Nov 2014

What : SS Maheno Shipwreck

Where : 75-Mile Beach, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

Maheno Shipwreck, a must-see attraction on Fraser Island.
Built in 1904 in Scotland, the 122m SS Maheno had the honour of being the first triple-screw steamer ever built and also the earliest ship to cross the Pacific Ocean. Historical records tell of it being used as a trans-Tasman trading ocean liner and luxury passenger cruise before being converted into a floating hospital by the New Zealand government during World War 1 in 1915.

After 5 years of transporting injured soldiers to Australia and New Zealand, the Maheno returned to civilian charge but was subsequently decommissioned and sold to a Japanese shipping company in 1935 as the ship became obsolete. Its new owner intended to salvage usable parts before melting the vessel down to sell as scrap metal.

For safety reasons, refrain from getting too close to the shipwreck so a camera with a powerful zoom lens would be handy to snap close-up shots.
To fund Maheno's journey from Australia to Japan, its huge brass propellers were sold off and the ship was slated to be towed by a ship named Ottawa to Osaka, Japan. Unfortunately, a freak cyclone broke the link between the two ships and without propellers to regain its course, Maheno drifted ashore to Fraser Island.

After numerous failed attempts to refloat the ship, efforts to remove it was abandoned and the ship became one of the top sights on Fraser Island.

Maheno's collapsed stern. As time passes, the ruins disintegrate further while the sand slowly swallows up this once magnificent ship.

During World War 2, the Maheno served as a target for bombing practice. We were told that none of the 2,000 plus bombs dropped on it managed to get a hit.

A ghostly shell of the past. Maheno means "island" in the native Maori language of New Zealand. How befitting that its final resting place is by the beautiful coastline of Fraser Island.

The end is eerily beautiful with the Maheno Shipwreck.

I see a face.

Ashes to ashes, rust to dust.

When I first saw a photo of the Maheno Shipwreck, "Ghost Ship" came to mind and I was really excited to see it in person. While it is still impressive, the ship had sunken further into the sand and not as tall as the brochures depicted. It still makes for a interesting photography spot though and I would imagine that the wreck will serve as a unique foreground to frame a sunrise.

So before the Maheno disappears totally into the sand beneath it, make a date to see this accidental sculpture by the sea that became the centrepiece jewel of 75-Mile Beach.

This post has been made possible by Tourism Queensland Singapore and CTC Travel.

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