|One of the better of the deeper wrecks off
Sydney is the SS Kelloe. The Kelloe was a iron
hulled collier built by J. Laing in Sunderland, UK for J.
Forster of London. It was launched in either April or August
1866 (the records say both). The Kelloe displaced 500
tons and was almost 50 metres long and 8 metres wide. A single
screw steam ship powered by a 70hp two cylinder compound engine
built by G. Clark at Sunderland, its first regular destination
was Hamburg, Germany. It appears that the Kelloe was
named after the small town of Kelloe, near Durham City. This is
located south of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Kelloe was a coal mining
town and there were eight small mines situated around the town.
In the early 1870s the Kelloe was sold to J.D. Hill
and in about 1876 it was sold again to J. Young, Ehlers and Co.
The Kelloe remained in the UK, its home port being
London. In 1881 the Kelloe was in the port of Newcastle,
with the following reported as being crew on board (I do not
know why there was not a full list of crew):
In early 1891 the Kelloe was purchased by the Wallarah
Coal Co. for use in conjunction with its Australian coal mines.
On 23 April 1891 the Kelloe left London under the command
of Captain Hagan. It arrived in her new home port of Sydney on 9
July and started its regular run from Catherine Hill Bay on the
southern outskirts of Newcastle to Sydney. It also made some
journeys from the southern coalfields to Sydney and Brisbane.
On 11 February 1893 the Kelloe was proceeding down
Sydney Harbour when she collided with HMS Ringarooma. She
suffered some damage to the bow area and the master, Captain
George F. Mason was suspended for three months. The Kelloe
appears to have been incident free for the next nine years.
At about 10 pm on 12 May 1902, the Kelloe left the
South Bulli jetty on the southern coalfields. She had a full
load of coal aboard, bound for Sydney with Captain Hector Boyle
as master. Just over two hours later, the wooden steamer SS
Dunmore left Sydney for Shellharbour (south of Wollongong)
under the command of Neils Hanson to load blue metal. The
Dunmore was in its 12th year of incident free service but
the early hours of 13 May 1902 would change that luck.
At about 1.30 am in almost perfect conditions to the
immediate north of Botany Bay, the two vessels approached each
other. On the Kelloe, Captain Boyle was in his cabin
changing clothes. Captain Hanson saw the Kelloe and
decided that the lights showed that the two would comfortably
pass each other, the Dunmore to the seaward side of the
Kelloe. To make certain, the Dunmore turned slightly to
port. Suddenly, the Kelloe made a turn to starboard and a
collision was imminent. Captain Boyle ordered full reverse and
blew his whistle. Moments later, the Dunmore rammed the
Kelloe's starboard side. As soon as Captain Boyle reached
the Kelloe's bridge he "realised that the steamer was
The Dunmore lowered one of its boats to help the
Kelloe but she was also in trouble. Captain Boyle ordered
the Kelloe to be abandoned and her boat was put in the
water. All 15 crew climbed aboard and were soon met by the
Dunmore's boat. Within 15 minutes, the Kelloe had
sunk, stern first, her engine still running (confirmed by its
current damage - see later).
The Kelloe's crew, taken on board the Dunmore,
were not yet really saved as she herself was in a bad situation.
Water was streaming in through the damaged bow, slowed a bit by
a tarpaulin placed over the hole. Captain Hanson decided to take
the Dunmore into Botany Bay and he beached the ship off
Kurnell. The next morning, the crew of the Kelloe were
taken over to the Botany Pier and caught a tram into Sydney.
Temporary repairs to the Dunmore were carried out and on
16 May she returned to Sydney under her own power. However, the
Dunmore was now on the road towards an accident in
January 1909 when she ran down a Navy boat killing 15 Navy crew.
This was the greatest maritime disaster to happen on Sydney
Harbour to that time. In April 1914 the Dunmore was to
again strike trouble when she collided with SS Kiama at
Sydney Heads and was driven up on Lady Bay Beach where she
remained for three days. In September 1915 the Dunmore
ran aground at Bradleys Head and in February 1918 she collided
with the tug Champion off Botany Bay. The Dunmore
was surely not one of the luckiest vessels around.
An inquiry found that the Second Officer of the Kelloe,
George Alstrope, was at fault for not keeping a proper lookout.
From an article by John Sumner in the November 2006 issue of
South Pacific Divers' Club magazine, Wet Rag, it appears
that the weck was discovered by Eric Buchannan of Arrow Diving.
He was assisted by Wally Gibbins and others. At this time they
called the wreck the Cronulla.
In mid-1978 Eric decided to restart salvage work on the wreck
(which was stopped after he had an underwater welding accident
not related to this salvage work). He contacted John who at that
time owned St George Underwater Centre at Beverly Hills. A
couple of attempts to re-find the wreck failed (marks previously
used to find were no longer there - eg Bunnerong Power Station
chimneys) and strong currents pushing them off the wreck once
On 27 August 1978 a number of divers went out to look for the
wreck. They were John Sumner, Bill Marden, Doug and Chris Olding
and perhaps two others. On this day they successfully dived the
wreck. They became the first recreational divers on this wreck,
still thought to be called Cronulla. A week later Bill
dived the wreck again and took a pressure guage. When this was
cleaned, it had engraved on it "Kello". Thus, the true identity
of the wreck was established, it was the SS Kelloe. On 2
October 1978 Doug Olding recovered the telegraph and later
Trevor Thomas found the Builder's Plate from the Engine Room.
Sitting on a sandy bottom broken by bits of the adjacent edge of
the rocky reef, its depth is 48 to 51 metres, depending on
tides. The wreck is sitting upright with the bow facing north.