Vessels listed this page

Claud Hamilton
South Australian
White Swan

Fleet Lists

Main Directory
Vessels A - Z


Contact Us

Home Page



and Company

actually traded as

The Adelaide, Melbourne and Otago Steamship Company

Due to the length of name, thos Company were more familiarly referred to as MecMeckan, Blackwood & Co
The house flag bore the image of a blue emu on a white background and so, were also referred to as


During the 1860's-70's this shipping Company was the leading concern during that Colonial era.
Traded Adelaide, Melbourne & New Zealand, at times as far as the Roper River and Darwin, Northern Territory


John Hutchison Blackwood arrived Melbourne 1852
1853 in partnership with Captain McMeckan
McMeckan, Blackwood & Co
Shipping Agents, Ship-Builders and Traders

Beginning with Sail only vessels, the company helped to establish a regular steamship service between Melbourne and Adelaide in 1854 when they obtained the agency for the new 301-ton steamer Havilah, which was commanded and part-owned by McMeckan's younger brother Hugh. The success of the weekly service brought a mail contract from the two colonial governments and further tonnage was added to the agency. The partners bought the Queen, the first steamer on their own account, in 1856

More ships were bought and the firm began a regular Melbourne-Wellington run in 1858. With the New Zealand gold rushes a branch was established in Dunedin and eventually the company had to employ another twelve ships

Meanwhile business from the Melbourne-Adelaide trade was increasing with extensive cargoes of wheat and flour. After 1870 a general cargo and passenger traffic developed between Melbourne and Port Darwin, where the steamship - Omeo had carried men and equipment for laying the submarine cable to Java. A trade was also built up between Melbourne, Adelaide and the south-eastern ports of South Australia. Joint ownership of various vessels with S White of Aldinga, Adelaide and J Darwent of Adelaide were in place until 1871 when they effectively combined under the trading name of McMeckan, Blackwood & Co as registered in Melbourne. 1878 they sold out their tasman fleet to Union Steamship Co of New Zealand while their two ships on the south-east Australian run went to Adelaide Steamship Company and the Mount Gambier Steamship Co., respectively
Having relinquished all shipowning, the Company operated solely as shipping agents

Ed Ed Ed Ed
ALBION image courtesy State Library Victoria
COORONG (b43752) image courtesy State Library Victoria
QUEEN 201 gross tons, 137 net. Lbd: Unknown. Built by Thomas Wingate & Co., at Whiteinch Glasgow in 1852 for the Orme Bros of Glasgow. Purchased By McMeckan, Blackwood and Co December 1856. Where employed is unknown. July 1858 sold to J MacAndrew and November 1859 to the Henty Brothers of Western Victoria, who increased her gross tonnage to 230 with dimensions of 144'5" x 19'3" x 11' in 1860. Sold 1864 to New Zealand S N Co and under Captain Kreeft, struck Cook's Rock in Cook Strait New Zealand on 5th April 1867 and sank

ALBION 806 gross tons, 591 net. Lbd: 218'3" x 27'2" x 15'4". Iron passenger steamship 2 funnels, 2 cylinders producing 180 horsepower. Built by Scott of Greenoch for Albion Shipping Co., Glasgow. 1886 of the Otago S N Co., Dunedin New Zealand. Purchased 1868 by E B & J Cargill and George McLean when Otago S N Co collapsed and placed on Tasman run. 1868 C J Hoyt and A McKinnon. 1871 owned by Henry Hoyt. October 1871 purchased by McMeckan, Blackwood & Co, Melbourne who retained her on the Trans-Tasman route. February 1879 owned by Union Steamship Co of New Zealand, again retained her on the Trans-Tasman route. June 1883 sold to J C Ellis & J E Mitchell, Sydney. May 1887 owned by Captain T R Brown. June 1888 again owned by J C Ellis and renamed Centennial in October of that year. Given an overhaul and modernisation, she was then placed in opposition to her previous owner on the Trans-Tasman route Sydney - New Zealand. Foundered, wrecked 23rd August 1889 Sydney harbour outside Bradleys Head after collision with the steamship -collier Kanahooka. No lives lost, sank in seven fathoms below the main shipping channel and later blown up

COORONG 391 gross tons. Lbd: 171'1" x 22'4" x 12'2". 2 cylinders producing 70 horsepower. Iron steamship built by J G Lawrie at Port Glasgow for J Darwent of Adelaide. November 1863 with McMeckan Blackwood & Co. July 1877 owned by Mount Gambier Steamship Co Ltd. March 1881 owned by H C Piggot. October 1882 owned by W Whineham, registered Port Adelaide. Worked the South Australian gulf trade in opposition to the Adelaide Steamship Co until purchased by John See in May 1884. December 1891 of the North Coast S N Co., Sydney. Hulked 1911 at Sydney and demolished 1916

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN 633 gross tons, 436 net. Lbd: 225' x 26'3" x 15'. Iron steamship built by J Key at Kinghorn Glasgow for Samual White of Aldinga South Australia. Fitted with a 2 cylinder engine producing 180 horsepower, she was designed for the passenger trade (80 saloon & 135 steerage) between Port Adelaide and Melbourne. After one year she was engaged by the South Australian Government for a journey to Darwin travelling east and returning via the west coast, making a complete circumnavigation of the continent. Since, she was Chartered to the Otago Steamship Co of New Zealand and serviced the trans-tasman run. S White became bankrupt and she became under ownership of McMeckan, Blackwood & Co, Melbourne who kept her on the trans tasman route until she was wrecked near the Molyneux River, New Zealand 11th May 1867

Ed Ed Ed Ed
ALDINGA & OTAGO images Dickson Gregory art postcards
OMEO image (b43753) and seen here at Port Chalmers New Zealand - courtesy State Library Victoria
CLAUD HAMILTON image online source
ALDINGA 423 gross tons, 291 net. Iron steamship 2 funnels rigged as a 3 masted barque and built 1860 by Scott of Greenoch for this company as McMeckan, Blackwood & Co in partnership with S White of Aldinga, Adelaide and J Darwent also of Adelaide. Modified 1862 Lbd: 202'6" x 24'6" x 13'4" with tonnage increased to 446 gross. Worked the Tasman run and Otago. 1871 fully owned by McMeckan, Blackwood & Co. Altered during 1887 with with passenger accomodation removed as well as one funnel and and two masts. Sold August 1877 to Adelaide steamship Co. Laid up until 1883 then placed on collier run when purchased by E Vickery who traded as the Mount Kembla Coal Co., of Sydney. Wrecked Bellambi reef January 23rd 1896

CLAUD HAMILTON 668 gross tons, 530 net. Lbd: 200'2" x 28'2" x 16'5". Built as a passenger-cargo sail-steamship (Square rigged, clipper bow) by Charles Mitchell & Co, Tyne England for the Intercontinental Royal Mail Steam Packet Company of London, who changed name 1866 to Panama, New Zealand & Australian Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. Acquired by this company April 1869. 1880 owned Nipper & See, Sydney who ran her in competition with Adelaide Steamship Co. December 1881 saw Adelaide Steamship Co buy her outright and she was later renamed ALBANY after extensive rebuild during early 1886. Her dimensions became 231'3" x 28'4" x 16'5" with gross tonnage to 878. Lengthened, given straight stem, rig reduced from three masts to two. Serviced for many years Fremantle - Wyndham, later servicing Melbourne - Fremantle. Age, newer vessels saw her reduced to cargo only capacity. Chartered to Australasian United S N Co (AUSN) for their East Coast trade Queensland - Sydney until wrecked off Nambucca Heads New South Wales on 28 March 1905

OMEO 733 gross tons. Lbd: 213'2" x 30'5" x 16'7". Passenger ship built by A Leslie & Co, at Hebburn Quay, Tyne for McMeckan, Blackwood & Co., Melbourne. 2 cylinders 120 horsepower engine as well as sail capacity, being barque rigged. Her lower masts were made of iron, hollow and were used as innovative funnels for the cooking stoves aboard. She also boasted a lifting screw, for times when she could be utilised as a pure sailing ship. On her delivery voyage carried the cable for the first telegraph link between Melbourne and Tasmania, and helped to lay it. Serviced the Melbourne - New Zealand trade being most popular as there were very few steam powered vessels on the route. Supposedly swung over to the Melbourne - Adelaide trade until 1866 when placed on market. Unsold, she was given extensive refit during 1867 including extra (extended?) deck increasing passenger accomodation and tonnage increased to 821 gross. Worked the Tasman trade until 1869 when chartered by the South Australian Government for an expedition north to Northern Territory with supplies of men and equipment for the overland telegraph. It is believed Joseph Darling of Adelaide had since chartered her for further voyages to Northern Territory, particularly Roper River whre many passengers saw mining possiblities in that region. It should be noted she steamed-sailed 100 miles upstream along the Roper River with the Telegraph Expedition 1872. Resuming the Tasman service, she made her final trip to New Zealand April 1879 then sold. 1880 owned by Nipper & See, New South Wales. September 1880 William Howard Smith, Melbourne took acquisition and reduced her in 1881 to a 4 masted sailing ship carrying coals and timbers. Since mid 1890's was reduced to a coal hulk eventually being run ashore Fremantle 1901

OTAGO 645 gross tons. Iron steamship built 1863 by Laurie Whiteinch, Glasgow for the Intercontinental Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., (IRM) London. Later owned by Panama Line then British Interests out of Hong Kong and North German Fleet until 1873 when bought by this company. She was given an extensive refit in Melbourne with tonnage increased to 745 gross. Worked the Tasman run until wrecked Chaslands Mistake south of Otago New Zealand 4th December 1876

Ed Ed Ed Ed
RANGITOTO image courtesy State Library Queensland
TARARUA image as seen anchored in Roper River, Northern Territory - courtesy State Library Victoria
OSCAR 675 gross tons. Lbd: 187'5" x 28'1" x 12'9". Built as an Iron passenger steamship by John Scott Russell at Millwall, England for unknown owners. 1857 owned by D Hart. 1860 arrived Australian shores and secured the mail run of the South Australia linking from there to Albany, Western Australia with an English mail steamer. Also worked the Adelaide - Melbourne run in competition with McMeckan, Blackwood & Co until purchased in January 1861 by this company. Owned 50% shareholding of her with Samuel White and Joseph Darwent, both of South Australia holding 25% each of the remaining shares. She worked the trans tasman gold rush until wrecked at the entrance of New River Otago New Zealand

RANGITOTO 574 gross tons. Iron steamship Passenger-cargo as built 1865 by J G Laurie, Whiteinch Glasgow for the Panama, New Zealand & Australian Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., London. Taken over in full ownership by this concern 1869 and serviced the trans-Tasman run. Wrecked after striking a reef near Cape Jackson New Zealand 30th June 1873

TARARUA 692 gross tons, 523 net. An Iron hulled steamship, three masts with yards on foremast, she was built by Gourlay Bros of Dundee for the Panama, New Zealand & Australian Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, London. 2 cylinders 155 horsepower. Designed as a passenger vessel for the New Zealand - Panama trade, she first arrived at New Zealand 1864. 1869 the 'Panama' Company dissolved and in May 1869 she was purchased by McMeckan, Blackwood & Co. Placed upon the trans-Tasman service, she also frequented Australian coastal port to ports. She also saw service from Port Adelaide to Roper River Northern Territory taking passengers and supplies further up that river any any previous vessel of her class. Become a regular on the South Australian Government's mail run from Port Adelaide to Darwin. Purchased by Union Steamship Co of New Zealand along with much of the fleet of McMeckan, Blackwood & Co, she was, from December 1876 given extensive overhaul. This saw new compounded engine = 140 horsepower, new boilers, accomodation and saloons improved and tonnage increased to 827 gross. Masts reduced from three to two and new dimensions read - Lbd: as 222'6" x 28' x 16'2". Considered as an almost new vessel, she was placed on the Melbourne - Hobart - New Zealand run. April 29th 1881 after being off course and too close to shore, wrecked Waipapa Point New Zealand with tragic loss of 131 lives

WHITE SWAN 322 gross tons, 198 net. Lbd: 145'4" x 22'1" x 13'2". Iron steamship of 2 cylinders direct acting and built as a passenger - cargo vessel by William Simmond & Co., Whiteinch for unknown owners. circa 1857 or perhaps slightly earlier she was on the Melbourne - Adelaide run, being the fastest vessel on that course in that time. McMeckan, Blackwood & Co., managed this vessel for passenger services between Melbourne and Adelaide up to at least April 1858 when she was transferred to the trans-tasman run. As at February 1861 owned by A G McCombe (Melbourne). August 1861 owned by Joseph Lukey (Melbourne). Captain McLean held helm when she was engaged in a mail service between Auckland and Wellington, exact date unknown. Wrecked off Flat Point, New Zealand, 28th June 1862

Ed Ed Ed Ed
GOTHENBURG & ALHAMBRA images courtesy State Library Queensland
GOTHENBURG 674 gross tons, 450 net. Lbd: 187'4" x 28'2" x 12'9". Built by John Scott Russell at Millwall, London as a passenger ship for the North of Europe S N Co., London. Acquired June 1862 and lengthened 1873 Lbd: 196'6" x 28'2" x 20"5". A first class clipper steamer rigged with three masts, yards on the fore mast and funnel set aft, she was placed upon the Australia - Otago run. Also worked out of Adelaide doing the mail run to Darwin. On a return journey from Darwin with a compliment of leading members of the South Australian Bar and judiciary, as well as many returning goldiggers. In a heavy gale (some record state heavy cyclone) off Great Barrier Reef on 24th February 1875 she was wrecked, approx 24 miles from Cape Upstart with a loss of 102 souls or more. The wreck made news far and wide, especially of the gold bullion she allegedly carried, yet unsalvaged. Captain William Collin of Brisbane (and later shipowner) procured a 'Wreckers Licence' with a view to salvage of the wreck. Finding the vessel's remains as mast and forecastel only being visible above waterline, his diver designate then explored the wrecked remains. No gold Bullion box was found and, it seems, such had already been recovered previously as reported to Captain Collin by the Custom Officials at Bowen

UNO Of 35 tons and built at Melbourne in 1864. Under Capt McMeckan, struck the bar at Grey River New Zealand on 18th November 1865. She was either owned or merely commanded by Captain McMeckan. Records obscure

HAVILAH 301 gross tons, 166 net. Lbd: 151' x 22' x 13'4". Iron steamship, 2 cylinder making 55 horsepower and schooner rigged of 3 masts. Built as a passenger vessel by C Mitchell & Co., Low Walker Tyne for Charles & J F Bowman of South Australia, and Hugh McMeckan - Master Mariner in partnership. Serviced the Melbourne and Adelaide in 1854 as a passenger vessel under agency of this concern, their first managed vessel. Owners since: May 1858 Samuel White, reg., Port Adelaide. June 1861 G Fisher & Partners who traded as Launceston & Melbourne S N Co of Launceston, Tasmania. July 1866 W A Guesdon & Partners reg., Hobart. October 1867 Tasmanian Steam Navigation Co. May 1868 Mort & McArthur reg., Sydney. November 1869 ASN Co. November 1873 French owners at Noumea. July 1878 J C Lloyd reg Sydney and November 1884 Mount Kembla Coal & Oil Co. With her return to Australian registry from Noumea, she was converted into a collier by either J C Lloyd or ensuing purchaser and was converted into a hulk prior to 1900, effectively ending her status as a ship per se. Records state she was broken up in 1911. Havilah means "Land of Gold"

ALHAMBRA 642 gross tons, 373 net. Lbd: 209'3' x 27'1" x 16'3". Iron screw steamship, 2 cylinders producing 140 horsepower and rigged with 3 masts. Passenger vessel built by Samuel Bros, Millwall London, 1855 for the Peninsula & Oriental Steam Navigation Co, London. December 1862 came under ownership of this concern with her tonnage increased to 766 gross and 497 net. As a passenger vessel, she ran on the Melbourne - New Zealand route, later servicing Melbourne - Adelaide, and for a while to Suva, Fiji. Nipper & See acquired her in December 1882. July 1883 saw S Marsden of Sydney take ownership. April 1884 H Perdriau and later in November by A Wheeler Jnr. From about 1883 she became a collier, with her reportedly being under the auspices of the Wallsend Coal Company. She foundered seven miles east of Newcastle, after striking a derelict vessel, possibly the American J T Berry, near Port Stephens, New South Wales, 30 June 1888

Ed Ed
ARAWATA1,098 gross tons, 623 net. Lbd: 245'5" x 30'1" x 14'2". Compunded engine of 300 horsepower. (Sistership Ringarooma). Iron steamship built by T Wingate & Co Glasgow for McMeckan and Blackwood. As a passenger vessel she plyed mostly the trans-tasman route until Union Steamship Co took over fleet in 1878. Engaged on the Melbourne- Dunedin service. 1890 laid up at Auckland and used as a coal hulk. 1897 store ship at Wellington, 1927 sank as a hulk after collision with the steamship Devon

RINGAROOMA 1,096 gross tons, 623 net. Lb: 245'1" x 30'1" x 14'2". (Sistership Arawata). Iron Passenger Cargo sail-steamship built by T Wingate & Company Glasgow for McMeckan, Blackwood & Co., Melbourne. Steam compound C2cy 300nhp Single screw. One funnel and two masts gave her ‘a handsome appearance’. Engaged on the Melbourne-Dunedin service. Union Steamship Co took over fleet in 1878 and she continued service with new owners. 1888, sold to C Kunst, Samoa, and renamed Samoa 1903 sold to T Hashimoto, Nagasaki who re-engined her that year and renamed her Geiho Maru. 1912 sold to I Hizume, Tarumi Japan. 1914 owned by Hokuyo Kisen KK, Japan. Recorded as Broken up in Japan in 1925 (though also reported foundered 1912 or 1913)


2007-09 ©John E Hoskin/Flotilla-Australia
All Rights Reserved