Eighty-nine years ago Helena Lucy Gill née Hughes, my second-great-grand-aunt, drowned when the SS Casino sank in Apollo Bay, Victoria. She was 65 years old.

Helena was the second youngest of eight children of my third great grandparents Samuel Hughes (1827-1896) and Sally Hughes née Plaisted (1826-1900); she was the younger sister, by twelve years, of my great-great-grandfather Edward Walter Hughes (1854-1922).

Drowned Stewardess (1932, July 11). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article242973343

In April this year Greg and I went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road. We visited Apollo Bay and had lunch at the Apollo Bay Hotel. The hotel has a memorial to the Casino, which includes the ship’s wheel.

sign remembering the SS Casino in Apollo Bay opposite the Apollo Bay Hotel
extract from newspaper clipping on display at the Apollo Bay Hotel
Green, A. C. (c. 1900). Casino. Retrieved from the State Library of Victoria image H91.325/1112.
The “Casino” at Apollo Bay. (c 1920). Rose Stereograph Co. Retrieved from the State Library of Victoria Bib ID 1731943.

The Casino carried cargo and up to 25 passengers between Melbourne and Portland, stopping at Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy, for almost 50 years, from July 1882 to July 1932. She made more than two thousand of these coastal passages.

From about 1914 Helena Gill worked on the Casino as a stewardess. Her bravery in the shipwreck is recalled in a newspaper clipping, part of the display at the Apollo Bay Hotel.

Tomorrow there will be a small ceremony to mark the anniversary of the sinking. A service will be held at the Casino memorial in Gipps Street at 10 a.m. on Saturday 10 July.

S.S. Casino memorial, Port Fairy. (no date). Image from State Library of Victoria Image No: a07643.

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