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”

The Sapphire and Marina: 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 “The Sapphire and Marina: 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 Macabre case of the Mignonette

Authenticated acts of cannibalism among shipwreck survivors are remarkably rare.   But when they have taken place, those involved have often been met with revulsion and sympathy in equal measure. Such was the case with the survivors of the small yacht Mignonette which foundered on its way to Australia in 1884. The Mignonette was a smallContinue reading “The Macabre case of the Mignonette”

The Post Office in the middle of nowhere

It might seem strange that one of Australia‚Äôs earliest post offices was also one of its most remote.    It was established on Booby Island in Torres Strait in 1835 but passing ships had already been leaving correspondence there for many years by then. Booby Island, known as Ngiangu to Torres Strait Islanders, lies about 3200Continue reading “The Post Office in the middle of nowhere”