SS Kwinana - Shipwreck, Wells Park


City of Kwinana

Place Number



Kwinana Beach Rd Kwinana Beach

Location Details

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1922

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Municipal Inventory Adopted 13 May 1998 A

Statement of Significance

Aesthetic Value: The remains of the ship’s hull, whose form is clearly evident despite being filled with limestone, forms an interesting structure on the promontory of Kwinana Beach, and is a well-known landmark. Historic Value: The place marks the final resting site of the S.S. Kwinana, a former State Shipping Vessel that was driven ashore in 1922 after breaking its moorings at Garden Island and being blown across Cockburn Sound. The name of the ship was embraced as the name of the new satellite town of Kwinana when it was developed in the 1950s, although the area had long been known as ‘Kwinana Wreck’, ever since the local post-mistress, Clara Wells, scrawled this name across the mail bags. Social Value: As a well-known and publicly accessible landmark, the place contributes to the community’s sense of place.

Physical Description

The place comprises the rusting shell of a steel ship hull, which has been cut down to water level and filled with concrete to form a platform. The pointed form of the hull is still evident, although there is more concrete and stone indicating the shape than steel, and the structure extends out into the bay of Kwinana Beach for a length of approximately 5 metres. A jetty is located immediately south of the wreck, extending from the slight promontory that connects the two structures.


Originally named ‘Darius’ when built in 1892 by William Doxford and Sons at Sunderland, England, for three Melbourne ship owners, the 3,295 tons vessel was renamed ‘Kwinana’ when purchased by the Western Australian Government and registered in Fremantle on 26 August, 1912. As the S.S. Darius, the ship was mainly used to transport horses to the Imperial forces in India, however as S.S. Kwinana it was used primarily to transport cattle from the north west of WA to Robb Jetty. It also made occasional voyages overseas, transporting WA timber to New Zealand, South Africa and China. Between 1912 and 1922, when the S.S. Kwinana finally sank, the ship encountered numerous incidents which left it damaged, including scraping the bottom of the hull, hitting rocks, and a fire in the coal bunkers. Having been almost completely gutted by fire in 1921, it was decided to escort the ship to Fremantle to be made seaworthy again, however during this voyage, the S.S. Kwinana collided with S.S. Port Stephens and eventually had to be towed into the harbour. Upon arrival, the restoration of the S.S. Kwinana was deemed uneconomical, and the ship was stripped of any fittings of value. After an unsuccessful attempt to sell the ship, it was decided to tow S.S. Kwinana to Careening Bay, Garden Island, however it was this voyage that was her last. During May 1922, following a north-westerly gale, S.S. Kwinana broke her moorings and was blown across Cockburn Sound to her final resting place, now known as Kwinana Beach. In 1941 the rusting hulk of the ‘Kwinana’ was partly destroyed with explosive, then in 1959 the Fremantle Harbour Trust cut the hulk down to low water level. Later the centre was filled with limestone to form a platform. The place name ‘Kwinana’ was adopted in a rather jocular manner by local post-mistress, Mrs Clara Wells, who marked the mail bags ‘Kwinana Wreck’ to identify the location of her store, which was located just east of the shipwreck. (Source: Laurie Russell, Kwinana “Third Time Lucky”, 1979)


Integrity: Low Authenticity: Low




Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
L Russell; "Kwinana “Third Time Lucky”, 1979

Place Type

Historic site


Epoch General Specific
Present Use Transport\Communications Water: Other
Original Use Transport\Communications Water: Other

Historic Themes

General Specific
TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS River & sea transport

Creation Date

11 Sep 1998

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

01 Jan 2017


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