Ferry abandons its master, crashes

No one realized there was any danger until the Lady Ferguson slammed into the wall with a thud, throwing her passengers onto the decks.

Screams of terror were heard as many of the passengers disembarked the ship by entering the garden of a block of flats on Waruda Street in Kirribilli.

The others stayed on board until they were transferred to the Kameruka ferry and taken to the wharf at Taronga Park.

An aerial view shows damage caused to the levee by the Lady Ferguson.

An aerial view shows damage caused to the levee by the Lady Ferguson.Recognition:Stuart MacGladrie

The police boat Nemesis, led by Sergeant FG Wellisch, arrived shortly after the crash to drop off an injured boy and his parents.

A Central District ambulance hit the launch at the police boat shed. It was 16 months before the boy, Shane Maries, was taken to Sydney Hospital where he was treated for minor head injuries.

Five adults were taken from the dockyard in Taronga Park to Mater Misericordiae Hospital by Central District ambulances. All but one, Mrs. Ilona Folds, 51, of Charles Street, Erskineville, who had a spinal injury and shock, was allowed to walk after treatment.

They were: Mrs Sylvia Cook, 26, of Cuthill Road, Cobbitty, injured right foot; Mrs Lesley Fabian, 20, of Mepunga Street, Concord West, injured her right ankle. Mrs. Elsie Briers, 45, Streeton Avenue, Mt. Pritchard, chest injury and shock. Mrs Rosa Tomininich, 33, of Glebe Street, Camperdown, injured leg.

Arch embedded in wall

Among the eyewitnesses was Mrs. B. Korff, who has an apartment on the fifth floor of the Waruda Street block of flats.

The ferry dug its prow into the dike wall just below Mrs. Korft’s window. The distance between the building and the wall is only about one meter.

Ms Korff said she looked from her window towards Circular Quay and noticed Lady Ferguson crossing the harbour.

“It was such a beautiful day and I admired the ferry as it came over,” she said. “Of course I expected it to turn right as usual, but I soon realized it was getting too close.

“I was spellbound. I couldn’t take my eyes off it and I knew it was going to hit the wall. It did, and it shook the building. It was like a light earthquake.

Mrs Lesley Fabian, husband Rodney Fabian and their sons Glenn and Neil at Mater Hospital.

Mrs Lesley Fabian, husband Rodney Fabian and their sons Glenn and Neil at Mater Hospital. Recognition:Bruce Adams

“Disgusted by the whole affair”

“It took me a while to understand exactly what had happened. “Confusion reigned on the ferry and there appeared to be a large number of small children.

“Many of them, apparently disgusted by the whole affair, left the ferry and walked away through the garden below.” One of the injured, Ms Briers, was traveling with her son Graham, 25, his wife Betty, 26, and their 18-month-old old son John.

“We had been planning for weeks to take a day trip to the zoo,” Ms Briers said. We were up at the front of the ferry when everyone seemed to sense something was wrong.

“Have everything we could grab”

Max Cook, wife Sylvia, baby Carol and son Alan at Mater Hospital.

Max Cook, wife Sylvia, baby Carol and son Alan at Mater Hospital.Recognition:Bruce Adams

“We were all holding on to whatever we could get hold of and Graham was clutching John. As the ferry started we were all thrown onto the deck and I think I broke a rib.”

Mr Max Cook, 26, and his wife Sylvia, who was slightly injured, were also at the zoo for an afternoon with their children Alan, 4, and Carol, 10 months.

“We were outside near the bow when someone shouted that the ferry was going to crash against the levee and we went in as fast as we could,” Mr Cook said.

“There was a terrible crash and people started screaming and struggling to get outside. Sylvia injured her leg in the scuffle.”

The Lady Ferguson was freed from the sea wall by reversing the engine and swinging the ship from side to side.

Port official interviews

Shortly after the accident, the assistant harbor master, Captain G. Harvey, was called from his home.

He interviewed Captain Kell and the ferry’s two crew members – an engineer and a deckhand. He has also questioned other officials and will make a report to the harbor master. Captain CW Livingstone.


A Marine Board of Inquiry is likely to be held following a preliminary investigation by the Maritime Services Board.

A spokesman for Sydney Harbor Ferries Pty. ltd said last night he would not comment on the accident.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/from-the-archives-1962-ferry-leaves-its-master-behind-crashes-20220909-p5bgw1.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Ferry abandons its master, crashes

Joel McCord

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