North Coast Steam Navigation Company Limited

 Dating from 1891, the “North Coast Company” had its origins as the Grafton Steam Navigation Co. which was the product of New South Wales northern rivers’ shippers unifying in 1857.

The company entered the Second World War with seventeen ships, a new-build joining in 1942:



Gross Tons

In Service

Orara 1907 1297 1907-1946
Coolebar 1911 479 1911-29, 1938-48
Gunbar 1912 482 1912-26, ?-1946
Pulganbar 1912 1160 1912-1948
Doepel 1919 389 ?-1947
Wollongbar 1922 2239 1922-1943
Ulmarra 1923 924 1923-1955
Uki 1923 545 1923-1954
Bonalbo 1925 960 1925-1954
Arakoon 1926 875 1926-1962
Nimbin 1928 1052 1928-1940
Melinga 1928 536 1928-1954
Wyrallah 1934 1049 1934-1954
Comara 1937 751 1937-1954
Nambucca 1937 489 1937-1945
Wyangerie 1938 1068 1938-1954
Bangalow 1939 648 1939-1954

Uralba (gt 602) completed building in1942 and was immediately requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy, with later peacetime service to 1947.

By the end of 1939 Orara, Uki and Coolebar had been requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy as minesweepers, while on 10 January 1940 Nambucca joined them (serving as part of the 50th Minesweeping Group but later to be lost by fire in 1945 during requisition by the United States Army Small Ships Section). Orara, a flotilla leader, recovered survivors of the Cambridge, sunk by mine off South East Point at 11 a.m. on 7 November 1940. During November 1940 Uki recovered an enemy mine off Montague Island on the New South Wales south coast. Gunbar became a minesweeper late in 1940 and in September Wyrallah a commissioned fleet auxiliary, renamed in 1942 as HMAS “Wilcannia” then serving as a patrol vessel. Wyrallah had participated in the search for survivors of the HMAS “Sydney” sinking in November 1941. Nimbin became a mine casualty off Norah Head, New South Wales on 5 December 1940, with seven lives lost including the Master, its thirteen survivors recovered by Orara, with Bonalbo standing by.

United States Army Small Ships Section took over Bangalow (for survey/lighthouse/cable repair duties) and Melinga early in 1942, and Comara later that year, as supply vessels, with Nambucca joining them in this role on release from minesweeping. Wollongbar became the company’s second loss to enemy action, torpedoed off Crescent Head, New South Wales in April 1943, with thirty-two crew lost, five survivors.

Wyangerie entered Sydney Harbour on one voyage at 8.53 p.m. 31 May 1942, less than one hour after the three Japanese midget submarines I.22, I.24 and I.27. Pulganbar served as a stores ship from 1939 to 1946.