The PS ‘Ozone’ was a beautiful and elegant paddle steamer, built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1886. Commissioned by the Bay Excursion Steamer Company Ltd., she was to be the first of this company’s paddle steamers to traverse Port Phillip Bay. She was to be joined by the PS ‘Hygeia’ in 1890, and the large and fast PS ‘Weeroona’ in 1910.
She was sleek and beautiful at 260 ft (79 m) in length, 28 ft (8.5 m) in width, 11.2 ft (3.4 m) in depth; and, weighed in at 572 tons gross (241 tons net).
She featured a green hull, a white upper structure, topped by two orange funnels. Her three decks contained a dining room, bars, a ladies’ salon and many luxuries – all of which were lit with the new electric light – invented by Thomas Edison only seven years earlier. She could carry up to 1,600 passengers !!
The PS ‘Ozone’s power plant was her direct-acting diagonal compound engines which were fuelled by six navy-type boilers. These drove her 21 ft (6.4 m ) paddle wheels reaching speeds of some 20 knots.
The PS ‘Ozone’ departed Glasgow, Scotland for Melbourne, Australia on the 25th August 1886, under the command of Captain John McLean. The voyage took the PS ‘Ozone’ through the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the Indian Ocean to Thursday Island, where she was quarantined. The final run to Melbourne was made along the eastern Australian coast. The PS ‘Ozone’ completed her voyage on Friday, 26th November 1886.
The PS ‘Ozone’s first commercial voyage took place on the 18th December 1886 – steaming from Melbourne – Mornington – Sorrento – Queenscliff (where she collided with the pier !!).
She earned the nickname “The Greyhound of Port Phillip” because of her speed. The era of the bay steamers was also the era of trade picnics. Companies would charter the PS ‘Ozone’, or one of the other bay steamers, so that the employees could enjoy a day on the bay. For many, especially the children, this was the highlight of the year.
Competitions between the rival ships and the companies which owned them also reigned. In 1888, the famous race on Port Phillip Bay took place between the Bay Steamers Ltd. propeller-driven ‘Courier’ and the paddle-driven ‘Ozone’. The PS ‘Ozone’ was stripped, cleaned and put back into racing trim by her owners and easily beat the Courier. The following year, the return bout took place – this time the Courier was put into racing trim. As the expected race was about to begin, the PS ‘Ozone’ glided to a halt – the captain followed his orders and did not re-race his rival. The debate as to who won still continues …
The PS ‘Ozone’ was involved in 3 major incidents in her long career:
– In 1889, she collided with the schooner ‘Elfin’
– In 1890, there was a near miss with the ‘Coogee’
– In 1894 the PS ‘Ozone’ran down the fishing vessel ‘May’.
With the arrival of the PS ‘Hygeia’ in 1890, and the large and fast PS ‘Weeroona’ in 1910 – the PS ‘Ozone’s’ decline began . . . There was not enough patronage for three big excursion paddle steamers. In 1918, the PS ‘Ozone’ was withdrawn from service. She was sold to George Hill & Company, a Melbourne Shipbreaker, who stripped all the fittings c 1925 and put them up for auction. Stripped of everything but the paddle wheels and boilers, the hulk was finally sold to Captain W.G. Forbes to be sunk as a breakwater at Indented Head. The plan to sink the PS ‘Ozone’ end-on to the shore became unstuck when a fierce north-easterly wind caused her to slew parallel to the shore – she stuck fast in the shallow water. A few years after her scuttling, fire broke out and destroyed what was left of her. For many years, all that could be seen above the water were the tops of her three after boilers and her paddle wheels which were used by many holidaying children as jumping and diving platforms during the summer months. Below the surface, her rusting remains provide an artificial reef for the many and varied fish to find a home.
Today, only the skeleton of a paddle wheel and sections of the old structure are visible . . .
Until 1937 Port Phillip Bay was alive with steamers, transporting holiday makers and day trippers to the many beautiful beaches of Port Phillip Bay.
Today, we travel 100’s of extra kilometers, on overcrowded roads – as the jetties literally fall into the sea. Sadly, sea transport is no longer an option.
The cost of “progress” . . .
– Close proximity to Town Centre – obtain Directions here
– Some Car Parking available along The Esplanade
– Adjacent to Walking / Cycling Trail
– Other Historical POI’s nearby
Discover Indented Head:
– Facilities available at Indented Head include:
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- Off Street Parking
- Sealed Road