SS Koopa

1912-1953

SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty 4 June 1912
SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty 4 June 1912

Courtesy of the SLQ. Neg No 24336.

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SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty ca1920s
SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty ca1920s

Lost Brisbane Facebook - public domain.

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SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty ca1922.
SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty ca1922.

Courtesy Huet photo collection.

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SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty 4 June 1912
SS Koopa at Bribie Jetty 4 June 1912

Courtesy of the SLQ. Neg No 24336.

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The Koopa’s first trips were to Redcliffe on Christmas and Boxing Day 1911 but holiday-makers had to wait until Sunday, 21st January 1912 for the Koopa to arrive in the Pumicestone Passage and then only to view Bribie Island from her deck.

The SS Koopa, from an aboriginal word meaning ‘flying fish’, was built by Ramage & Ferguson in Leith, Scotland and steamed into the Brisbane on 24th December 1911 with both masts gaily decorated with flags. The Koopa’s first trips were to Redcliffe on Christmas and Boxing Day 1911 but holiday-makers had to wait until Sunday, 21st January 1912 for the Koopa to arrive in the Pumicestone Passage and then only to view Bribie Island from her deck. It wasn’t until after Easter, on Sunday, 12th May 1912, that the Koopa docked at Bribie’s new 216-foot-long jetty.


Luxurious, modern and fast, the Koopa was licensed to carry 1,153 passengers and was one of the largest ships to come to Brisbane. She was fitted out with a brilliantly lighted promenade and main deck and the saloons were provided with no fewer than 159 electric lamps. Meals were provided in the dining room with light refreshments in the bar and confectionery stall.


It was said that the Koopa’s large dining saloon, which seated 100 persons, provided a standard of service as high, or higher, then available in Brisbane. Entertainment was provided by a small orchestra with passengers engaging in community singing and dancing.


It took holiday-makers about three hours to travel from Brisbane to Bribie via Redcliffe. Commencing at twice a week, the Koopa by the 1920s visited Bribie on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The adult regular fare was three shillings return with an added six pence as a surcharge for holiday periods or for passengers with camping gear and children were one shilling and nine pence.


The small resident population at Bribie always turned out to see her arrive, their only contact with the mainland. The Koopa had a ‘Packet Licence’ and after the passengers disembarked, thirsty Bribie Islanders rushed aboard to enjoy the bar facilities. Bribie had no hotel until 1939 and Koopa admirably filled this community need.


The Koopa was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy for war service on 10th August 1942 and commissioned as HMAS Koopa.


For a short time she was used as a depot ship for combined operations training at Toorbul Point in Moreton Bay, later transferring to New Guinea.


In July 1945 Koopa returned to Brisbane and was handed over to the Royal Navy and used as a floating ‘electrical generator’ until January 1947 when approval was given for her return to her owners, the Brisbane Tug & Steamship Company. On her release she was returned to her original condition and by February 1947 she once more was on the Brisbane/Redcliffe/Bribie Island run.


It was soon evident that the time of the Steamships was coming to an end because of the advent of the motor vehicle. The Koopa was not returning sufficient profit to the company and she was sold in 1951 to a Brisbane syndicate, consisting mainly of Bribie residents. The first trip took place on 15th February 1952 but by 4th May 1953 the Koopa had made her last run from Bribie Island.


The Koopa was towed to the mouth of the Brisbane River on 3rd October 1960, her steel hull cut-up for scrap metal and sunk at Boggy Creek.


Between May 1953 and the opening of the Bridge in October 1963, Hayles Cruises provided a service between Brisbane and Bribie Island. The Miramar usually making the journey.


Written by Lynne Hooper from information sourced from BIHS Database and the public domain.