The liner 'Monarch of Bermuda' on fire  in dry dock at Palmers Shipyard, Hebburn-on-Tyne
On the 24th of May in 1947, the Monarch of Bermuda was gutted by a fire and burned out at Hebburn-on-Tyne while being refitted for return to passenger service.  She was declared a total loss and supposedly sold for scrap. 

A last minute reprieve saw her saved from the breakers yard when the Ministry of Transport reappraised the wreck, purchased her, and rebuilt her as an emigrant ship.  She was moved under her own power to Southampton and rebuilt by Thornycroft. 

This E.T.W.Dennis (Scarborough) postcard shows the reconstruction under way at Thornycrofts of Southampton (serial 3239)
Her three funnels were replaced by a single funnel, and a pecular trunked mast/funnel arrangement forward of the single funnel. She was now 20,256 gross tons, was 553.2 feet long with a beam of 76.7 feet, and was fitted to accommodate 1600 passengers in one class.

In 1949 she was renamed the New Australia, and the Ministry of Transport contracted the Shaw Savill Line to manage her.

Photo of New Australia in drydock at the time that she changed her name to the New Australia.

Flag of the Shaw Savill & Albion Line

On 15 August 1950, she made her first voyage from Southampton to Sydney.  In her new role she took migrants from Britain to Australia, and then sailed up to Japan, from where she took troops of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) back to Britain. During the New Australia's maiden voyage to Australia the ship lost an anchor while in the Bay of Biscay.

Amongst the migrants on board the SS New Australia in 1951,  was a group of fourteen “orphaned” children, sent to Australia for the Fairbridge Society.  These children were part of the child migration scheme made infamous years later as the "Leaving of Liverpool" kids.  Many had living parents, and had been sent to Australia without the knowledge or permission of these parents. 

An O.W.Hoffman postcard New Australia.
On one of its 1951 return voyages, the New Australia sailed back via Java to pick up Moluccan soldiers and their families and take them to the Netherlands.  On that occasion she left Surabaya on 7th April, 1951 and landed in Amsterdam on 29th April, 1951. 

In 1952, the New Australia delivered members of 1st battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment to Korea, landing them at Posan.  March 1953 again saw the New Australia going to Korea with members of 2RAR to relieve 1RAR which had by then spent a full year in Korea. 

Also in 1953, another group of British “orphans” arrived on the New Australia, destined for Clontarf Boys Town, Western Australia.

On Wednesday 22nd of September 1954, the Nash family sailed from Southampton on the SS New Australia.  The voyage to Melbourne took a month.  After sailing through the Straits of Gibraltar on Saturday 25th, the ship anchored at Port Said on Thursday 30th before going through the Suez Canal.  The ship then sailed through the Red Sea and anchored at Aden on Monday 4th October. 

By Saturday 9th October the ship was anchored at Colombo, Ceylon, and on Sunday 17 October she docked at the Port of Freemantle in Western Australia. The Harbourmaster's Log for Station Pier, Port Melbourne showed that the New Australia docked there at 11:30pm on Thursday 21 October, 1954.  The Nash family disembarked on Friday 22nd, and the New Australia sailed for Sydney at 7pm on Sunday 24th October 1954. 

View Nash Family souvenirs of this voyage.

Read a personal account of this voyage.

On that same voyage in 1954 were another group of children from orphanages in Britain being sent to institutions in Australia like the Dr Barnardo’s homes.  Read the story of one of them at

This is a Shaw Savill official card of New Australia.
In 1956, while engaged in transporting more Australian troops to Malaya and Korea, 
the New Australia experienced a severe typhoon off the Philipines coast. 

September 1957 saw the New Australia again used as a troop transport.  On this occasion she was taking members of the  3rd battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, together with their familes, to Malaya for a two year tour of duty.  In the late afternoon, while passing through the Torres Strait between North Queensland and New Guinea, the New Australia collided with an oil tanker travelling in the opposite direction.  There were no casualties, and damage to both vessels was not severe. The New Australia sustained damage to her bows, while the tanker was damaged on her side.  Both ships remained at the site of the incident for three days while repairs were made.  An eye witness account of this incident by Lieutenant Colin Bannister, 3RAR,  can be read at:

SS New Australia at Station Pier, Port Melbourne.
Monarch of Bermuda
SS New Australia