Greycliffe; Stolen Lives

A Biographical Account of Sydney's 1927 Tahiti-Greycliffe Disaster

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Sydney Harbour’s greatest maritime disaster occurred on 3 November 1927, when the Royal Mail Steamer Tahiti collided with the Watsons Bay-bound ferry Greycliffe off Bradleys Head. The tragedy shocked Sydneysiders for its unsurpassed violence and dispassionate choice of victims; in mere seconds, forty people, aged from just two to 81, were swept to their deaths, whilst dozens more were injured.

On 7 November 1927, a large section of the hull and ladies’ cabin was raised by the Sydney Harbour Trust’s sheerlegs.  It was left hanging in its hawsers overnight, a portion of the name Greycliffe clearly visible on the hull.  © Graeme Andrews Collection

Greycliffe; Stolen Lives, by Steve Brew, is the first comprehensive study of the tragedy. More than just a definitive documentary, the lives of the people involved – those who survived and those who did not – are studied at length.


Three trials and an appeal have failed to dispel controversy about who was at fault; contemporary accounts still disagree, even on basic facts. Taking advantage of unutilised records and previously unpublished material, the true story is unearthed and conclusions are drawn which challenge long-held misconceptions.



"...most meticulous and readable... " (Launceston Examiner)

"...immaculately researched... a superb book" (Oceans Enterprises)

"...well written, thoroughly researched, and well illustrated... a very high quality production" (The Navy)

" important part of the published history of Port Jackson... well worth the study" (Aust. Sea Heritage)


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Last Updated 12 January 2013
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