On 2nd April 1931 the MV Malabar violently struck the headland at Long Bay south of Sydney. The passenger and cargo steamer owned by the Burns Philp Company was making its journey from Melbourne to Singapore via Sydney.

When heavy fog cut visibility to nil, Captain George William Leslie ordered a course change of 5 degrees to starboard, in order to take the ship away from the coast. Unfortunately, the helmsman misunderstood the order and turned the ship 5 degrees to port! The Malabar ran ashore. Although all 28 passengers and most of the 109 crew were forced to evacuate by the boats, there was no loss of life.

With the bow high and dry on the rocks, it was soon realised that the ship could not be refloated. The wreck and cargo were sold at auction, however the vessel quickly broke apart as the seas increased. An estimated 300,000 people came to witness the wreck over the weekend, many to recover cargo strewn widely around the bay. The steamer received its name from a small town in Java, approximately 20 miles south of Bandung. Interest in the wreck led to public comment and a residents petition to rename the suburb, Malabar, after the vessel. Until this time, the suburb had been known as Brand or, more commonly, Long Bay. Long Bay was seen to reflect badly on the suburb due to obvious associations with the nearby jail. The renaming was achieved with publication of the new name in the Government Gazette of 29 September 1933. The wreck site has been located.


From: Maritime Heritage Online Site

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