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”

The Post Office in the middle of nowhere

It might seem strange that one of Australia’s 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”

The Remarkable Castaways of Moreton Bay

Most Queensland school children are taught that the first non-Aboriginal people to settle in their state were convicts and their gaolers who arrived in September 1824.   But actually the first white-skinned people to live in what would become Queensland were three castaway ex-convicts who came ashore 18 months earlier. In 1823 Governor Brisbane sent theContinue reading “The Remarkable Castaways of Moreton Bay”

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”