Australian Coastal Shipping
MUP $28.80, 327 pp
Until recently I had found that the most useful book on the history of shipping in the Australian area was the two-volume work Pageant of the Pacific by Captain F. Rhodes, published in 1936. During the last few years we have had several books devoted to single companies, such as the E. & A. Line, the AUSN, Adelaide Steamship, and smaller companies, each of which showed the difficulty of condensing a lot of ships histories into one volume. To deal with all the coastal companies, some of which extended overseas, in one volume, requires ruthless editing and carries the danger of the story being stripped of its flesh, to leave us with the dry bare bones. Two years ago there appeared the very complete work by Dr John Bach, A Maritime History of Australia in nearly 500 pages. The work under review is briefer and easier to read, being about 330 pages with 115 photographs and line drawings. A strange omission in both these books is that their bibliographies give no mention to Rhodes’ great work.
Australian Coastal Shipping begins with excellent introductions to the subject before dealing with the subject state by state, and trade by trade, including the overseas extensions of the present day. These chapters are followed by an appendix of trades in different areas arranged in chronological order, and another appendix of all steam and motor vessels in alphabetical order, which gives earlier or later names carried by a ship, and brief details of her type, tonnage, length, builders and date, employment, and owners, which occupies fifty pages. This is the most valuable reference in the book, as the index is very brief, only needing sixteen pages.