Cartela, c 1914 (W.L. Crowther Library, SLT)

Cartela (Aboriginal for 'bull seal') was the last and largest river steamer built in Hobart primarily for passenger service. The 194-ton gross, 37-metre vessel was completed by Purdon and Featherstone, Battery Point in 1912 for the Huon, Channel and Peninsula Steamship Company, and operated passenger and freight services to the Tasman Peninsula and D'Entrecasteaux Channel.

A fast vessel, Cartela was in frequent competition with arch-rival Togo. On Christmas Day 1926 they collided during a race that, despite causing no injuries and little damage, resulted in a High Court action, which decided that both masters were responsible, Cartela's Captain Chitty more so because his was the overtaking vessel. In 1952 Cartela was sold to Roche Bros and later converted to diesel propulsion. By 2004 Cartela was the last former Tasmanian river steamer in commercial operation (two others being preserved in Victoria). See also 'Shipping'.

Further reading: G Cox, Ships in Tasmanian waters, Hobart, 1971; J Sargent, Cartela: 90 years service, Bellerive, 2002; J Duffy & L Rodway, The cock of the river: “Cartela”, Hobart, 1996.

Graeme Broxam