The Ships

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The Cairngorm

Named for a Scottish semi-precious stone, the Cairngorm was a ship of 1,161 tons. For its 1855 voyage to Australia its master was a Captain T. Meiklejohn (1).

The Cairngorm left from Plymouth in southern England on 2 June 1855 and arrived in Portland, Australia on 5 September 1855. According to the passenger list it carried 372 passengers on this voyage. There were two recorded deaths during the voyage. An infant died from "hydrocephalus" and a ten year old died from bronchitis.

"After inspection by the Assistant Immigration Agent, Mr James Blair (also the Police Magistrate) the ship was cleared for hiring of labour on September 13th. 172 of the settlers sailed for Port Fairy aboard the Champion in late September. The Cairngorm carried a mixed cargo of clothing, bottled beer, cider, ale rum, gin, wine, brandy, earthenware, tobacco, saddlery, hardware rope, cordage, blacking, salted pork, pork hams, cheese, cacon, salmon, sardines, candles, files, horse nails, pipe boxes, bullock chains, hoops, iron, poison, clocks, white lead, oil, jams, drapery, boots, saws, whips and stationery." (1)

The word "cairngorm" (pronounced "kern-gorm") refers to a smoky, yellow, grey or brown variety of quartz used as a gem (smoky quartz). Literally the Gaelic "Cairn Gorm" means "Blue Cairn". The Cairngorm Mountains form part of the Scottish Grampians and it is in this area that the gem is found.

This picture reportedly depicts the Cairngorm that travelled to Portland. It was apparently  published in a Scottish newspaper before sailing. (2)

The Chance

This ship lists Michael and Bridget Shanley and their daughter Mary an infant. The passenger list states that they were from Donegal and that they were going to relatives at Belfast. The Chance left Liverpool 6 June 1857 and arrived in Belfast (Port Fairy) on 12 September 1857.

The Almora

This ship sailed from Liverpool, England, on 31 January, 1854, and arrived at Portland on 25 April, 1854. On board were Michael and Catherine Madigan (spelt Maddigan) on the passenger list and their 10 year old son Michael. Someone has later written in at the start of the passenger list for this ship that the "master" was a John Tierney and that the ship weighed 1238 tons (?source).

almora.jpg (23813 bytes)

The Euphrates

On the passenger list of the Euphrates are Mary and Patrick Naughton from Limerick in Ireland. It travelled from Southampton, England, on the 7 August, 1856 and arrived in Port Fairy 19 November, 1856.

The Champion

Built in 1854 (UK), the Champion was a steamer which operated between the ports of Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland. It seems likely that the Shanleys and Malones may have been among the 172 Cairngorm passengers who travelled on the Champion to Port Fairy.

"With a top speed of exceeding 12 knots, accommodation for 40 cabin and 60 steerage passengers, 200 tons of cargo, and sufficient coal to steam for 10 days without refuelling, the Champion was an immediate success and brought many changes to the Victorian West Coast trade." (3)

On her way to Melbourne in 1857, the Champion crashed into another steamer, the Lady Bird, and sank on the Apollo Bay side of Cape Otway. 32 people drowned. (3)

"Only known sketch of the sensational steamer Champion, lost off Cape Otway." (3)



  1. Rundell, Beverly. Portland Past and Present No 2 - The Immigrant Ships 1998.
  2. Grant, Anne - Personal communication from Anne at Portland's History House. 2003.
  3. Loney, Jack. Tales from the Surf Coast, Shipwreck Coast and their Hinterlands. 1994.