Adelaide Steamship Co, MV Moonta, later MV Lydia

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer

Please Note: All ssMaritime and my other related ssMaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues and I hope that the well over 675 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers ships I have written on will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts and continue a great deal of information and pleasure!

Adelaide Steamship Company Limited

MV Moonta

Postcard of the Adelaide Steamship Co MV Moonta


Please Note: Photographs and postcards on this page are from the author’s private collection, unless noted otherwise.

Part One - MV Moonta

The much-loved Australian coastal passenger cargo liner, MV Moonta was built in 1931 by Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen Denmark for the Adelaide Steamship Company. She was known for her comfortable accommodations and public rooms and she accommodated 150 passengers. The ship featured three lounges that included the Social Hall, Smoke Room and the ever-popular Wintergarden. In addition there was the walk around promenade deck and a spacious sports deck above.

This souvenir MV Moonta silver matches holder is 2 3/8” X 1 3/4"

It was made by Angus & Coote, Sydney ^ It features the Company flag

Sent in by Jonah Mason, South Australia


A serviette ring from the MV Moonta also made by the same Jeweller as the item above

Sent in by Jonah Mason, South Australia

Moonta would depart Adelaide for her six day voyage on Saturday at 7 PM and her itinerary was as follows: Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, and Port Lincoln (, then with one further port of call as required either to; Kingscote, Whyalla or Port Hughes. She would return to the Port of Adelaide early on a Friday morning. Moonta had a considerable cargo capacity and she carried mostly wool, groceries as well as lead and pig iron and other assorted items on these voyages.

The delightful MV Moonta is seen in Port Melbourne

Photographer is unknown, Please see photo notes at the bottom of the page

Whilst visiting these ports optional tours were available for her passengers to explore the many wonders to be found in the region. But many sailed on the Moonta just to enjoy the relaxation and entertainment that was on offer on board. However, she also offered good and reliable service, excellent and plentiful meals and comfortable accommodation. Then there was always time to play deck games, having fun in the pool, attend the dance at night as well as the special events such as fancy dress. Moonta became well known as being the perfect ship for a “Romantic Holiday” and fares started from just £6 that is AU$12.

An Adelaide Steamship Co advertisement – It is only 6 pound – How things have changed

It is from $120 per day PP these days in a twin cabin

An image from an Adelaide Steamship Company promotional material


Passengers play some shuffleboard on board the Moonta

An image from an Adelaide Steamship Company promotional material


Relaxing out on deck and playing cards

An image from an Adelaide Steamship Company promotional material


A wonderful photo of the Moonta with a tug

Photographer is unknown, Please see photo notes at the bottom of the page

The Moonta did serve during WWII, although little information is available, but she did have a gun mounted on her fantail. As a passenger ship the MV Moonta certainly had a successful career, however by the early fifties both road and rail transport began to damage the profitability of the cargo trade and thus Moonta’s profitability also commenced to suffer.

A wonderful study of this fine small ship with the sun setting over her, before being sold

Photographer is unknown, Please see photo notes at the bottom of the page

In addition passenger numbers was slowly dropping off therefore the Adelaide Steamship Company decided to retire the Moonta in 1955 after 24 years of faithful service, and placed on the market. Upon completion of her Australian coastal career the Moonta had sailed some 750,000 miles in addition she had carried around 95,000 passengers, which is quite an achievement for this remarkable, yet a small ship!

Specifications – MV Moonta:

Built at:                       1931 Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen Denmark

Delivered:                    November 21, 1931

Tonnage:                     2,693 GRT

Length:                        298ft

Width:                         44ft

Draught:                      15.10ft

Engines:                      B&W diesels

Screws:                       Single

Speed:                         12.5 knots, max 13 knots

Passengers:                  155


Part Two - MV Lydia

Postcard of the MV Lydia

In 1955 the Moonta was sold to the Hellenic Maritime Lines who then sailed her to Piraeus were she received a refit and her accommodations was extensively remodelled as she now had what was called “Uniclass” accommodations, with cabins in five grades, A to E, which were located on A and B decks. They comprised of 4 A Grade cabins being twin bedded with private facilities, 15 B Grade singles, 14 C Grade double-bedded cabins all on A deck. Grades D and E was made up of 4 and 6 berth cabins located on A and B decks. In addition, there were also two dormitories with a total of 123 berths, which were located forward on B deck. She could also transport up to 180 forward deck (day) passengers between ports.

Renamed MV Lydia she was placed on the Marseilles to Egypt service sailing via Italy and Greece. Ports of call were: Marseilles, Genoa, (Naples), Piraeus, Alexandria, Piraeus, Naples, Genoa and back to Marseilles. (Naples) … would be omitted on the outbound voyage in winter. This operation continues just over ten years until 1966 when she was retired from service and laid up in Piraeus, Greece. On addition she also operated the occasional Mediterranean cruise.

The Lydia is seen at Limassol, Cyprus whilst on a cruise around 1960

Photographer is unknown, Please see photo notes at the bottom of the page

However, after eleven years of operation, the company decided in 1966 to place her laid up in Piraeus and she was on the market aged a good 35 years, however in the near future she would head for France and become an almost a brand new venue.


Part Three - Casino Le Lydia

In 1967 The ex MS Moonta and Lydia proved to be a lucky ship, as she was purchased by a French company named “SEMETA” (Société d’Economie Mixte d’Etudes et d’Amenagement des Pyrénées Orientales) and her new venture was as a maritime symbol to mark the creation a brand new style resort at the “Port of Barcarès” in the Langedoc Rousillion region located on the Mediterranean coast of France.

The Lydia headed for Marseilles where her engines and propellers were removed and whilst there, she was converted into a unique and an amazing new tourist venue that contained Restaurants, Café’s as well as a Casino she was to become a fine Tourist attraction with many features and Maritime Museum.

The good news was that her owners retained many of her original fittings and only modernized certain areas. When completed she was towed to her new home at Le Barcares in the Langedoc Rousillion region where a special basin had been cut into the sand for her. When she arrived at her destination she entered the basin, which was then refilled with sand and thus in 1967, The ex MV Moonta became a landlocked all white vessel and she was renamed “Casino Le Lydia.”

Postcard of the Lydia seen sand (land) locked as a tourist attraction


Thankfully she is superbly maintained at all times

Provided by Stan Evans, Newcastle Australia

The Lydia, ex Moonta has since become a popular attraction at this Mediterranean resort and the “Casino Le Lydia” has become part of a leisure complex that offers so many features on board, such as casino, a restaurant, bar, a disco with laser shows, a pool with a waterslide, a spa, as well as an exhibition centre. It is interesting that her owners retained the name Lydia on her bow and stern!

However, although popular she did change owners on a number of occasions, for her original French owners, “SEMETA” operated her from 1967 to 1974, but she was then sold to an unknown Japanese Group in 1974 and they continued to operate her as usual. They then sold her in 1988 to an Mr. Alain Ferrand and he, or his company operated her until 1997. Then in 2000 she was sold to the Partouche Group who owns and operates her to this day. Thus the memory of the wonderful Australian Moonta lives on in France!


Memories of a fine little Ship!

Australia in the past had some remarkable passenger liners sailing its coastline, such as its most famed flagship the TSMV Kanimbla, Manunda, and the Manoora and many others, but the ex MV Moonta is Australia’s sole survivor that remains with us to this day from all of our many coastal liners of the past and she continues live on and there is no doubt that in many ways this fine old ship will inspire countless future generations. I hope and pray that the youth of tomorrow will discover what ships used to be like, as they roam this ships delightful old lounges and stairwells, which remain much in their original condition with its superb woodwork. Long live the Moonta - Thank you France!

This Superb photograph of MV Lydia is a good reminder of what really is a well-built passenger ship!


Now Online

Page Two … A photographic tour of the interiors and the exterior of today’s Lydia



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Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author seeks no funding or favours of any shape or form, never have and never will!

Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

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