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Nautical Association of Australia

NAA Books

Since 1973, the NAA has been a significant publisher of books on topics of unique importance to Australasian shipping. The books are available for purchase by anyone, whether or not they are a subscriber to the NAA journal, The Log. The most recent production, ANL: A Fleet History, was published in February 2020.

We plan to publish two more volumes on Australian shipping lines in 2021, one being on the Melbourne-based McIlwraith McEacharn line, and the other on the Holymans Line of Tasmania.


*NEW* published February 2020
ANL: A Fleet History of the Australian National Line 1957-1999
By Howard Dick, Iain Steverson, Mike Carolin, Barry Pemberton, Lindsay Rex, Rex Cox, Russell Priest

Australian National Line (ANL) began operations on 1 January 1957. It operated the largest fleet in coastal trade, ran passenger ships such as Princess of Tasmania and Empress of Australia that became household names, and from 1969 carried the Australian flag into international trades. ANL was at the forefront of innovation in bulkships, RoRo vessels and containerization, also in the redesign of ports and terminals. Many of its 110 ships were built in Australia. This impressive record of achievement eventually became overshadowed by financial woes, poor industrial relations and a difficult relationship with government that culminated in the sale of 1998-99. This fleet history, written and informed by the knowledge, experience and insight of those who sailed on and worked with the ships, weaves the stories of a complex forty-year transition from conventional shipping to modern bulk handling and containers, along with the nation-building role of the ANL, whose flag still flies proudly across the region as a subsidiary of the French CMA CGM. The book is lavishly illustrated with over 300 images, mostly in colour, and will become an essential source on Australia’s 20th century maritime history.

A4, hardcovers, 349 pages, 300 illustrations, index, flags, funnels and hull colours, bibliography, full ships lists.
Price: $89 incl. P&P mailed to Australian addresses of subscribers to The Log ($95 for non-subscribers). Prices to New Zealand addresses: AU$99 for subscribers to The Log (AU$105 for non-subscribers.) Other countries: AU$129.
Purchase Tambar (A Lucky Ship) with your purchase of ANL for an extra $5.


A Lucky Ship: The Nine Lives of the Australian Coaster Tambar 1912-1960
By Craig Mair

This high-quality book is the extraordinary story of an ordinary little ship that had a long and eventful life. Perhaps few Australian coasters have had a more interesting and varied history. Built in Scotland in 1912 for the North Coast Steam Navigation Company, Tambar worked as a lifeline to isolated river and island communities, first in New South Wales, then for the Tasmanian Government and Holymans in Bass Strait (King Island) and as the last steamer serving the Gippsland Lakes. In between she even spent a few years in Papua New Guinea. When World War II broke out, Tambar was commissioned into the RAN as an auxiliary minesweeper, but after the terrible Darwin air raid in 1942 became the first vessel of the newly formed Salvage Board, later assisting in the search for survivors of the Battle of the Coral Sea. Returning to Bass Strait in 1944 for a few more years, she then spent the 1950s on standby as a salvage vessel in Melbourne, working on Merilyn, Terawhiti, E.J. Fairnie, and River Burnett.

Craig Mair grew up in Grangemouth, Scotland where Tambar was built, and became interested after inheriting a builder's model from his father. He has consulted thousands of records, including the ship's logs, tracked down witnesses, and assembled over 100 photographs and maps to give a unique insight into Tambar's story, and coastal Australia in the middle decades of the twentieth century, before roads took over the transport task. Besides many colourful stories of shipwrecks and strandings, strange cargoes, salty characters, exotic places, wartime air raids, and salvage jobs, the book includes a definitive account of the worst Second World War 'friendly fire' incident in Australian waters in Moreton Bay in 1942.

17 x 25cm, paperback, 250 pages, Appendices, Bibliography and Indices, extensively illustrated, published 2013.
Price $20 incl. P&P to subscribers to The Log ($25 to non-subscribers). Australia addresses only. For post to New Zealand addresses add AU$15.


IN CORAL SEAS: The History of the New Guinea Australia Line
Based on the manuscript by Martin Speyer

This is the story of the New Guinea Australia Line (Chief Container Service since 1977), one of the largest shipping operations in the South Pacific, with strong links into Asia. The first twenty-five years are covered by the edited memoirs of the late Martin Speyer, who set up the NGAL. The later history and a collection of sea-going memories are presented by former ship's officers, with an illustrated list of the company's ships, published in conjunction with John Swire & Sons China Navigation Company.

Price: $15 including P&P to subscribers to The Log ($20 to non-subscribers). Australia only. For post to New Zealand addresses add $10.


The Currie Line of Melbourne
By Bill Laxon, MBE

In the closing years of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the ships of Archibald Curie & Company made up one of the largest Melbourne-based fleets. It was the only Australian company with a major presence in the trades to India and south-east Asia until 1913, when it was taken over by the large British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd. The book illustrates all of the Currie steamers, as well as providing a fleet list of their sailing ships and steamers.

The author, the late Bill Laxon MBE, was an Auckland lawyer and maritime historian specialising in the ships and history of the P&O group companies.
Price: $7.00 incl. P&P to subscribers to The Log ($10 to non-subscribers). Australia only. For post to New Zealand addresses add $5.


Secondhand NAA Books

Compendium of Australasian Merchant Ships 1831-2008
Compiled by Robert (Bob) Tompkins

A most comprehensive listing of some 7500 Australian, New Zealand, and South Pacific merchant ships (not sail-powered) over 45 feet in length. There is a description of each ship, its ownership and history. A sample entry:
A.K.COMMISSIONER (84/1914) aux wmv, 84’x16’x7.9’ (M.H.T.-Coode Island, Vic), [ex] COMMISSIONER 1954 (which see for history until 1954). Chartered for fishing 1966 and sank on first voyage off Cape Patterson, Vic. on 24/12/1966.

Published 2008. Soft cover in landscape format. A4 size. Not illustrated.
Two copies are currently available. Both are in good condition; one has minor fraying on the corners. Price: $40 incl. P&P to subscribers to The Log. Australian addresses only. Enquire about postal cost for delivery to non-Australian addresses.


Beancaker to Boxboat
By H.W. Dick and S.A. Kentwell

A history from the mid-nineteenth century of shipping in Chinese waters, mostly dominated by Western steamship companies until the rise of Communist China. This book encompasses the histories of the main sailing companies, foreign and Chinese, which had their origins on the China coast before 1949. The firms covered are mainly British but include the Japanese-flag Nisshin Kisen, the Chinese-flag CMSNC and the C.Y.Tung group. The book documents the fleets of these companies by presenting the career of each ship from construction to ultimate fate, with details of all owners, changes of name, and major incidents where known.

Published 1988. Hardback with dust jacket. Illustrated with black and white photographs.
Several copies are available and are in good condition with original dust jackets. Price: $70 incl. P&P (or $65 if ordered with Sold East). Australian addresses only. Enquire about postal cost for delivery to non-Australian addresses.


Sold East — Traders, Tramps and Tugs of Chinese Waters
By H.W. Dick and S.A. Kentwell

The sequel to Beancaker to Boxboat. Many cargo liners and tramps from Britain and Europe and most coasters from Australia and New Zealand were eventually 'sold east' to begin a second career for owners based in Shanghai (until 1949) or Hong Kong. Typically they joined the fleets of trampship owners such as Mollers, Wallems, Williamsons, Manners, or Wheelock Marden, firms less prominent than the liner operators such as Jardines or Swires but playing no less essential a role in the shipping of the Far East. Yet their colourful history is little known and already fading from memory. Here their principals stand out as men larger than life, supreme opportunists in a long unstable part of the world. Includes shipping lists and funnels and house flags.

Published 1991. Hardcover with dust jacket. Illustrated with black and white photographs.
Several copies are available and most are in good condition with original dust jackets. Price: $70 incl. P&P (or $65 if ordered with Beancaker to Boxboat). Australian addresses only. Enquire about postal cost for delivery to non-Australian addresses.




Details about payments for all books are on the Order Form. Payments are in Australian dollars.


NAA Books Now Out of Print
The following titles are out of print and are no longer available from the NAA. They may be available from secondhand sources and titles are often available online.
  • Huddart Parker: A Famous Australasian Shipping Company, 1876-1961 by W.A Laxon (completed by H.W. Dick, I.J. Farquhar, and T.S Stevens). Published 2008. A famous interstate shipping line and the only one to maintain a passenger line to New Zealand. A multi-faceted industrial enterprise that dated from soon after the gold rush. 235 pages, paperback, over 130 illustrations and includes a detailed fleet list.
  • Howard Smith Shipping: Enterprise and Diversity,1854-2001 by Ian Farquhar (2002) - a chronology of the company, the directors, financial details, and a comprehensive list of all cargo and passenger vessels, hulks, lighters and managed tonnage.
  • STRAITSMAN: Lifeline to an Island by Neil Pollard (2007) traces the ship's history from the planning stages through to her new life in Fiji.
  • Australian Merchant ships - 2008 by Malcolm Dippy and Tony Starke. A colour illustrated reference to Australian merchant ships as of 2008.
  • Australian Merchant Ships 2005 by Malcolm Dippy and Tony Starke. A quick reference to the particulars of the merchant ships of Australia as of 2005.
  • The Main Line Fleet of Burns Philp by Bruce Wilkinson & Ross Willson (1981). An important record of all ships of pioneering Australian company Burns Philp.
  • Far Eastern Fleets by Howard Dick & Stephen Kentwell (1973). The authors’ first catalogue of the fleets of some of the major Hong Kong and Shanghai-based shipping companies and their Australia/NZ connections.