The Tragic Loss of RMS Quetta

In 1890 Queensland experienced one of its worst maritime disasters when the passenger steamer Quetta sank in Torres Strait in just three minutes with the loss of 133 lives. The R.M.S. Quetta was a 3,300-ton coal-powered, iron-clad steamer measuring 116 metres (380 feet) in length and could travel at a top speed of 13 knotsContinue reading “The Tragic Loss of RMS Quetta”

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 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 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”