Wreckage of the SS Maheno on Fraser Island

Mike Grist Australia, Shipwrecks, World Ruins 2 Comments

The S.S. Maheno was an Edwardian liner on the Tasman Sea crossing between New Zealand and Australia, and was used as a hospital ship by the New Zealand division of the Royal Navy during World War I. The word Maheno means ‘island’ in Maori, which is the native language of New Zealand.

maheno 21

Beached but riding high.


Built in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1905 the Maheno was the world’s first triple screw turbine steamer. She served as a luxury liner, accommodating 254 first class and 201 second class passengers for trans-Tasman crossings. During the First World War the ship served as a hospital ship in the Mediterranean , Gallipoli , and the English Channel, before returning to a luxury liner.

The Maheno was taken out of service in 1935 and sold for scrap metal to a Japanese firm. The Maheno left Melbourne on 25 June 1935 in tow behind the Oonah, a 1700 ton coaster which had also been sold to the same buyer. During a fierce cyclone the tow-rope broke and the Maheno drifted ashore and became stranded between Happy Valley and Cathedral Beach on Fraser Island in July of 1935.

At the beginning of World War II the ship was used for bombing target practise by the Bundaberg aviation training school and for demolition practice by the Z force commandos.

– Garry

Some of the stories of the ship washing up on Fraser tell the tale of the Japanese crew being too afraid to get off the vessel after hearing of the cannibalistic traits of the local Aborigines. Attempts were made to refloat the Maheno unsuccessfully and eventually it was left abandoned on what is now known as 75-mile beach. Another classic yarn tells of the ship being on a tilt of 20 degrees plus. One of the politicians from Maryborough held their wedding on the angled deck and photos have been found with all and sundry enjoying a slightly ‘leaned’ wedding.

The ship is now heavily rusted, with warning signs prohibiting climbing.

-Fraser Island Tours


Waves lash within her bows.


Rust cakes her transom.


At night she dreams of high-class guests and the cries of the wounded.


Bones, tilting.


Do not climb.


Location – Fraser Island, Australia

Highlights – Used as target practise by bombers.


You can see all MJG’s Ruins / Haikyo explorations here:

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Comments 2

  1. A Customs Officer sent from Brisbane to “stand guard” over the vessel was married on board during his patrol. The bride and guests and officiating clergy had to scale the Jocobs Ladder to gain acces to the vessel. I knew the officer well and pictures of his wedding is well documented as well as a 8mm film found in the archives in the UK.

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