Between a Rock and a Hard Place

As Captain Emile Tonnessen saw the sheer granite walls of Chatham Island loom into sight, he knew his ship and crew of 12 men were in serious trouble.   Unrelenting gale force wind and high seas had driven his 913-ton iron barque Mandalay North-east for the past several days, and his chart showed that should heContinue reading “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”

The Mystery Ship of Walga Rock

Tucked away at one end of an Aboriginal art gallery at Walga Rock is a clear depiction of a European sailing vessel. What makes this truly extraordinary is that Walga Rock lies more than 350 km (220 miles) inland from the nearest place where the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean crash against the WesternContinue reading “The Mystery Ship of Walga Rock”

The Bourneuf’s Tragic Last Voyage

On 3 August 1853, the 1500-ton emigrant ship Bourneuf sank in Torres Strait as she was returning to England after bringing a human cargo of migrants to Australia. It proved a tragic end to a grim final voyage. The Bourneuf had sailed from Liverpool in mid-July 1852 with more than 800 impoverished migrants keen toContinue reading “The Bourneuf’s Tragic Last Voyage”