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Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast

28 Dec 11 - 09:49 PM (#3281301)
Subject: BS: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Sandra in Sydney

Archaeologists are investigating ships found beneath sand in a carpark which was formerly the beach at Bunbury. They have identified 2 American whalers (& might have found the third one) lost there in the 1840s. Video - Shipwreck graveyard found beneath WA carpark

Wikipedia on Shipwrecks of Western Australia Over 1400 ships have been wrecked on the coast of Western Australia ... 1840s Three American whale ships North America, Governor Endicott and North America at Bunbury (Mike Murray & Lesley Silvester mentioned in Listings paragraph also produced a CD "Strangers on the Shore" info here)

from .pdf Media Release by local council - 16 November 2011 - WA Museum hunt on for possible shipwrecks on Koombana Bay

The City of Bunbury in conjunction with marine archaeologists from the WA Museum will begin excavation of two possible shipwreck sites on Koombana Drive next week.
The excavations are to identify several anomalies found during magnetometer and ground penetrating radar surveys commissioned by the City of Bunbury in 2009.
The anomalies could be cultural features such as the remains of shipwrecks known to have been lost in the area which was the shoreline in 1896 and has since changed significantly due to port and harbour development.
City of Bunbury chief executive officer Andrew Brien said prior to any decision on future use of the land it was necessary to investigate whether the anomalies were of maritime significant and therefore covered by the WA Maritime Archaeology Act.
"We need to investigate whether the anomalies are of maritime significance and if so, to understand the extent of any buffers that could be required," Mr Brien said.
"If any maritime material is found it will be recorded and the sites backfilled and returned to their pre-excavation condition. This is the best way to preserve shipwrecks."
The City of Bunbury has been working closely with the WA Museum for months in preparation for the excavation.
More than nine archeology students from Flinders University in South Australia and students from the University of Western Australia will be heading to Bunbury to assist with the work.
They will be joined by WA Museum marine archaeologists, material conservationists, photographers, curator and other consulting archaeologists.

Western Australian Museum - Maritime Archaeology

29 Dec 11 - 08:36 PM (#3281747)
Subject: RE: BS: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Ross Campbell

Hi, Sandra
Looking through the links above, I thought I recognized the name of one of the wrecks. A few years back on (I think) my second visit to Sydney I went for a meal with Margaret Walters and John Warner. John was very keen for me to hear a song he had not long finished - and after we had eaten the meal he had prepared he sat down with the twelve-string and sang me "Batavia". Terrific story, great song. A quick Google shows up the following:-

Roaring Forties home page - Life of Brine Track 2 - Batavia (Margaret left me a copy of this album on her summer visit this year). Track details -

"2 Batavia *# Words and Tune: John Warner (John)
The Batavia sailed with a convoy to Java on her maiden voyage in 1628, laden with jewels and gold for the Dutch East India Company (the VOC). In a plot by Jeronimus Cornelisz the vessel was parted from the fleet and inadvertently wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos Islands off the coast of Western Australia. Over a two-month period Cornelisz and his companions slaughtered 125 of the 200 survivors of the wreck, planning to seize the rescue vessel and turn pirate. He was foiled by a group of loyal soldiers led by Wiebbe Hayes and a dreadful justice was finally meted out to Cornelisz and the other mutineers."

The lyrics don't appear to be listed anywhere. Any offers?

Batavia's Graveyard by Mike Dash


29 Dec 11 - 08:38 PM (#3281749)
Subject: RE: BS: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Ross Campbell

Any other "wreck" songs out there, Sandra?

29 Dec 11 - 08:42 PM (#3281752)
Subject: RE: BS: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Charley Noble


John Warner is one of the finest ballad composers, and also one of the nicest people I've ever met. Glad to hear you got to share some songs with him and Margaret.

Charley Noble

29 Dec 11 - 09:00 PM (#3281759)
Subject: RE: BS: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Sandra in Sydney

Mike Murray & Lesley Silvester mentioned in my initial post have a CD that contains at least 1 song about a wreck.

I've asked the shanty singers about other songs

29 Dec 11 - 10:27 PM (#3281779)
Subject: RE: BS: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Sandra in Sydney

from Margaret Walters, member of the Roaring Forties & former singing partner of John Warner

There's the 'Wreck of the Dandenong' which Alan Scott used to sing. Kate and Ruth made a beautiful arrangement of it.
words & midi - Wreck of the Dandenong
Kate Burke & Ruth Hazelton

Words & MP3 of Birchgrove Park
The Birchgrove Park by Bill Berry? is one Marg and Bob Fagan sing. So do I and so does Chris Maltby. Can't think of a recorded version. Maybe on Mark Gregory's site. Some of the facts in the song aren't quite spot on, but a friend of mine's father (or was it grandfather) was involved but was so angry and upset about the loss of lives, he wouldn't talk abut it. I gather pressure on the workers to make a fast turnaround meant that proper safety precautions weren't taken.

Danny Spooner sings a Don Henderson song called Thirty Ton Line which is about a tug very badly damaged through lack of adequate hands.
Words & MP3 of Thirty Ton Line

Phyl Lobl was the viaduct of a wonderful poem about a wreck that Rhymin Simon used to sing. I have a feeling someone put a tune to it - maybe Phyl herself.

from Phyl's website -
Adapted and given a tune by Phyl Lobl, this sung ballad of twelve verses was culled and partially rephrased from 35 verses of a poem by an unknown writer.
The poem was given by David Chatfield Edwards (ex Ltnt. Comm. RAN). His great grandfather was Henry Chatfield. The poem was labelled 'The Perilous Gate by the Writer of Craddock Head'. Unfortunately we don't know who that was. It was found with a poem 'Carrwarra' by G.Wood. Perhaps the answer is 'out there'. Simon Campbell sang' Perilous Gate' from a double album 'The People Have Songs' masterminded and produced by Miguel Heatwole.
words & MP3 of Simon singing Perilous Gate

01 Jan 12 - 12:19 AM (#3282815)
Subject: RE: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Sandra in Sydney

another song -

" The Wreck of the Nimrod" - on Queensland, east coast of Australia from 'Songs of the People' by Sam Henry

01 Jan 12 - 12:22 AM (#3282816)
Subject: RE: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Sandra in Sydney

forgot to add, suggested by Don Brian, another member of the Roaring Forties

01 Jan 12 - 09:28 AM (#3282940)
Subject: RE: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: quokka

Very interesting, Sandra, I'll have to wait to read it all Thanks for posting

01 Jan 12 - 10:02 AM (#3282950)
Subject: ADD: Don't Sign On the Emma
From: Charley Noble

There's also "Don't Sign on the Emma" recorded on a CD titled Strangers on the Shore by Mike Murray and Lesley Silvester, folks from the Freemantle area:


Stranded in Fremantle I was looking for a berth
I'd just been paid off from a Yankee whaler;
I'd heard the schooner Emma was signing on a crew
When I got to talking to another sailor.

      "Don't sign on the Emma she's not the ship for you.
      Don't sign on the Emma that's a warning;
      She's had her share of troubles and she's looking for a crew
      She's sailing from Fremantle in the morning."

(he said) "I shipped on board the Emma on her first run up the coast
The ship took all the sail that we could give her;
But before a day and night had passed a sailor we had lost
Then we lost the anchor in the De Grey River." (CHORUS)

"Next we hit the jetty when we docked at Champion Bay
The passengers and crew were all a-swearing;
The master says the compass wasn't working right today
And we'll have to try and get a different bearing." (CHORUS)

"The next trip was no better when we headed for the North
We had a load of sheep to take to Roebourne;
Then up at the Abrolhos we stranded on a reef
We had to build a raft to get the sheep home." (CHORUS)

Well, I thought about the sailor as I walked down to the quay
And I saw the Emma stranded on the sand spit;
I watched as she refloated and then she lost her masts
So I decided that the Emma wasn't my ship. (CHORUS)

Weeks went by and then the news the Emma had gone down
All the town was talking the next morning
And I thought about the words that the sailor said to me:
"Don't sign on the Emma that's a warning." (CHORUS)

Notes with CD:

The Emma was plagued with misfortune from the start. Brought to Western Australia by the pastoralist and merchant Walter Padbury in 1865, she only managed to complete two voyages up and down the coast of Western Australia, before she was lost on her third voyage, returning from Roebourne to Fremantle. Over a hundred years later her wreck was located on a reef off Coral Bay. During her short but eventful life on the coast, she suffered a host of misfortunes, and quickly gained a reputation as an unlucky ship, to be shunned by sailors.

Charley Noble

01 Jan 12 - 07:48 PM (#3283139)
Subject: RE: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Sandra in Sydney

thanks Charley

I think the thread name needs to be expanded to include the songs. I'll ask one of those wonderful mods to do so


02 Jan 12 - 01:58 AM (#3283236)
Subject: RE: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Allen in Oz


I attended a lecture on shipwrecks around the Australian coast and the lecturer advised us that there were more than 5500 such wrecks   ( not all of which are registered yet ) !

See you at Illawarra


02 Jan 12 - 09:27 PM (#3283796)
Subject: RE: Shipwrecks on Western Australian coast
From: Ross Campbell

5500 seems like a large number, but Australia's a young country, and as Allan says, they may not have caught them all yet.

While researching losses of Fleetwood Trawlers, I had sight of a hard-copy version of Shipwreck Index of the British Isles: Vol 4 Scotland by Richard Larn. There's a graphic representation in it where each dot represents the geographical location of individual shipwrecks. The coast of Great Britain and Ireland is thickly outlined, with even inland waterways, lakes and lochs showing recorded losses.

I later came across a website for the publishers which seems to offer the eventual possibility of an online search facility.

From the FAQs page of Shipwrecks UK website :-

"How many wrecks are detailed within Shipwrecks UK?

Well over 44,000 shipwrecks, within the sea areas surrounding Great Britain and Ireland. The number continues to grow, as a result of additional research, acquisition of additional historic reference material, and new wrecks."

On the Shipwrecks UK website, the "map" mentioned above is shown in the thumbnail pic to the left of the banner heading on each page.