The Endeavour’s Crappy Repair

As the Endeavour famously made its way up Australia’s east coast in 1770, there was a moment when the success of Cook’s voyage hinged on a pile of animal dung, some wool fibre and a coil of old rope.    The incident took place shortly after passing Cape Tribulation, so named by Cook because that wasContinue reading “The Endeavour’s Crappy Repair”

The Tragedy behind the Gothenburg Medals

In September 1875 three men were honoured by the South Australian Government for the courage they displayed when the Gothenburg sank with fearsome loss of life.     James Fitzgerald, John Cleland and Robert Brazil risked their lives to save themselves and the remaining survivors from the ill-fated steamer.     While steaming from Darwin to Adelaide, the GothenburgContinue reading “The Tragedy behind the Gothenburg Medals”

Three Months in a Leaky Boat

As you sit down to Christmas lunch spare a thought for the Sapphire castaways who spent 25 December 1859 in a struggle for their lives.   Theirs is a remarkable story of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardship served with a healthy measure of good luck. Christmas Day saw William Beveridge and his men kedgingContinue reading “Three Months in a Leaky Boat”

The Spanish Silver of Torres Strait

Sometime around 1891 a group of beche-de-mer fishermen stumbled upon a huge hoard of Spanish silver coins on the eastern entrance to Torres Strait. The men had been out searching for trepang in the shallow waters around Ashmore Reef when they made the discovery. It was low tide and much of the reef was exposed,Continue reading “The Spanish Silver of Torres Strait”

The Bogus Count and Hamlet’s Ghost

Some things you just can’t make up.    This is the story of the bogus Count von Attems and Hamlet’s Ghost. In May 1868 a dashing young man stepped ashore in Sydney claiming to be Count Ignaz Von Attems, a blood relative of Archduke Albert of Austria.   The Von Attems family could trace their aristocratic lineageContinue reading “The Bogus Count and Hamlet’s Ghost”