This page was last updated: Jul 27, 2012 11:39 pm







| Descendants of Thomas SULLIVAN | Report of Loss of Coramba (The "Argus" - 3rd December 1934) | Coramba Crew | Coramba Hull Located | Transcription of Court of Coronial Inquiry into Loss of S.S. Coramba | Coramba Inquiry Article | Widows Compensated | Listing of S.S. Coramba as a Wreck of Historical Significance | Coramba Wreck Located By Divers | The "James Craig" - barque on which John Loring SULLIVAN served | Dart involved in cyclonic storm | Joseph Sims launched
For information about the Descendants of Thomas SULLIVAN and Ann SULLIVAN please click on the following document links. Please allow time for the images to load. If you 'right click' the files should open in new windows or new tabs, depending on your browser.

Please note: It is not confirmed that Thomas and Ann are the parents of John Joseph SULLIVAN, however, all evidence would point to this being the case. The descendants of John Joseph are confirmed.

Descendants of Thomas SULLIVAN

If you'd like to view a version of the Descendants of Thomas SULLIVAN where you can click on the names to go directly to them have a look at this link:
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Report of Loss of Coramba (The "Argus" - 3rd December 1934)

Coramba Crew

Coramba Hull Located

Transcription of Court of Coronial Inquiry into Loss of S.S. Coramba

Coramba Inquiry Article

Widows Compensated


Listing of S.S. Coramba as a Wreck of Historical Significance

Coramba Wreck Located By Divers

Coramba Wreck Located

The loss of the Coramba's crew devastated Depression-era Victoria; now the discovery of the steamer's wreck has brought closure to some families.
IT IS more than 76 years since Audrey O'Callaghan last saw her father, Captain John Dowling, but she remembers their last moments together with a clarity born of reliving them in her mind countless times since.
She was 12 when she walked her 47-year-old father to the bus stop at Williamstown before he set off on one last journey on the cargo steamer TSS Coramba. The return trip to Warrnambool in the state's south-west to collect goods meant he would be gone for a fortnight. But she recalls feeling uneasy.
''We were very close … I kissed him good-bye and I said, 'Dad, I wish you were at home every night like other dads.' He said, 'I won't be long,' '' Mrs O'Callaghan, 88, told The Sunday Age from her home in Angaston, in the Barossa Valley.

A propeller of the recently discovered Coramba.
A propeller of the recently discovered Coramba.

But the captain's promise was not to be, and his daughter's fears proved well founded.
By the time the Coramba was due to leave Warrnambool, the weather had turned. Captain Dowling requested permission from the shipping office to delay his return, but was ordered out to sea.
In one of Victoria's worst maritime disasters, the Coramba capsized off Phillip Island during a storm on 30 November, 1934, and all 17 on board died.
The Age report on the wreck of TSS Coramba from December 3, 1934. Photo: Fairfax
The Age report on the wreck of TSS Coramba from December 3, 1934. Photo: Fairfax

''The ship should never ever have sailed. My father was so worried [about the storm] but he was ordered to go,'' Mrs O'Callaghan said.
The devastation of losing her father and his entire crew was deepened by not knowing where the ship had finally come to rest.
Two weeks ago, maritime historian Des Williams and diver Mark Ryan, of not-for-profit Southern Ocean Exploration, ended one of the state's most enduring shipwreck mysteries when they found the Coramba lying on its port side 66 metres beneath the surface.
Captain of the Coramba Capt. John Henry Dowling.
Captain of the Coramba Capt. John Henry Dowling.

''Des promised me that he would never give up, and he didn't. He kept his word,'' Mrs O'Callaghan said.
Mr Ryan described the find as the sweetest discovery of all. ''This is the most looked-for ship in Victoria. It's a very significant shipwreck,'' he said. ''It was lost with all hands - it had a huge impact on the local community.''
The surviving family members of the all-Victorian crew were stunned by the news. ''It's such a relief,'' Mrs O'Callaghan said. ''I'm glad I've lived this long. I was hoping that I might be lucky enough.''
The Age report on wreck of TSS Coramba. Photo: Michelle Stillman
The Age report on wreck of TSS Coramba. Photo: Michelle Stillman

Her most treasured memento of her father is a letter he wrote to her when she was a baby and he often spent months at sea. It was a guide for how to live her life in the event that one day he didn't come home.
''My mother gave it to me when I was 12. It's the most beautiful letter. I love reading it. He was such a thoughtful man,'' she said.
Her brother Jack, who was nine at the time of their father's death, died in December. He used to stare at the vast waters off Phillip Island wondering where his father's remains lay.
His wife, Norma Dowling, 82, of Seabrook, said: ''Jack would have been over the moon … just to know that somebody had found it and that they were all laid to rest. Just to know where he was. He could have gone down there and said, that's where my dad is.''
Mr Ryan said the 50-metre cargo steamer was supposed to enter Melbourne through Port Phillip Heads but a fierce gale made that impossible. It was trying to seek refuge in Western Port Bay when it capsized before any lifeboats could be released. The bridge, and the ship's bell and clock - which had stopped at 10.30pm - were washed ashore, as were four bodies.
''I would assume the others were trapped inside the ship when it went down,'' Mr Ryan said, adding that the wreck may still contain remains.
The 17 members of the Southern Ocean Exploration group had been searching for the Coramba for eight years before last month's unexpected find, Mr Ryan said. The wreck's location, 15 kilometres south-east of Phillip Island, was ''wildly outside'' where it was thought to be.
''I was actually out looking for a ship called the Kermandie. I knew that as soon as I put the boat over it and checked it with the depth sounder that what we had found was substantially bigger. I knew straight away that it had to be the Coramba,'' Mr Ryan said.
Southern Ocean Exploration had spent nearly $30,000 trying to find the ship, he said. Diving to the wreck last Sunday, was ''absolutely mind-blowing''. ''The ship's in good condition considering what it went through. The back half of the ship, the stern, is in very good condition, the propellers are good. The front end of the ship is quite broken up from where it hit bottom,'' he said.
He couldn't see many artefacts, such as bottles or plates, but more dives are planned for coming weeks.
Mr Williams' interest in the Coramba harks back decades. He wrote the 1985 book Coramba: The Ship the Sea Swallowed, and said he had been ''obsessing over the damn ship'' ever since.
''I got more involved with the families and it was the human side of the wreck that really got to me, not just finding the rotten thing. There were 17 people lost. In the late Depression era, it was a horror for the families,'' he said.
John Sullivan, of Cranbourne, whose namesake grandfather went down with the Coramba, agreed that the calamity had been ''very traumatic'' for the families, and many endured years of financial hardship.
He said his 84-year-old father, also named John, had dementia but he would consider telling him the good news. ''I am rapt … the perseverance has paid off.''
Mr Sullivan said his grandmother's and great-aunt's ashes had been scattered at sea where the ship was believed to have sunk, and he and his father would also have their ashes scattered above the wreck.

From: The Age -

Unedited footage of "Coramba" wreck courtesy of Terry Cantwell.

Whitewater Films

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Southern Ocan Exploration Coramba Project

Irish Sunday Business Post article (This article is no longer freely available - shortly I will obtain a copy and post it here.)

The "James Craig" - barque on which John Loring SULLIVAN served

The "James Craig"


Janet Kay on PhotoPeach

James McPHERSON / Mary SULLIVAN Marriage Registration -possible sister of John Jospeh SULLIVAN


HMS "Dart"

Dart involved in cyclonic storm

Dick SULLIVAN mentioned this storm in his memoirs. See page xx of Descendants of Thomas SULLIVAN.

"Wild Wave"

Joseph Sims launched

"Joseph Sims" John Joseph was Master in 1912 - 1914; John Loring served 1919

Reference re John Joseph as Master before Jas Edwards sold vessel

Discharge certificate for John Loring SULLIVAN 1919


Rudder of ketch "Defender"



"James Craig" - final voyage

26 Kelly Street, Hobart

Flyleaf of book 1902

John Joseph SULLIVAN Passed Master Certificate 1907

Reference for Captain John Joseph SULLIVAN 1912

John Loring SULLIVAN Extract of Birth Register

Alfred Loring SULLIVAN Extract of Birth Register

Captain John Joseph SULLIVAN

John Joseph and Alice Emily SULLIVAN (nee LORING)

John Loring SULLIVAN / Christina Ruby JONES Extract of Marriage Register


Joan Loraine SULLIVAN c1958

Reference for John Loring SULLIVAN 1928

"Coramba" Inquiry Cutting


Invoice for SULLIVAN Headstone in Brighton Cemetry 1950

Janet Kay SULLIVAN 61/2 months

Jan SULLIVAN with Patsy c1957

Alice Emily CAVANAGH (formerly SULLIVAN, nee LORING) Receipt for funeral

Alice Emily SULLIVAN (nee LORING) and Rene LORING (neeSULLIVAN)

Joan SULLIVAN Scholarship Winner

The SULLIVANS - 1984

Nan SULLIVAN Death Notices 1986

Jan HAWTON (later ROBERTS, nee SULLIVAN) Leading Teacher Accreditation 1997

Jan ROBERTS (neeSULLIVAN) Principal Accreditation 1998

Jan ROBERTS (formerly HAWTON, nee SULLIVAN) 2000