Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Wreck of the Mermaid

Captain Nolbrow - 1829

CAPTAIN NOLBROW AND THE CREW OF THE MERMAID arrived at King George Sound having been wrecked on 22nd June 1829.......

Select here to read a Narrative of a Voyage Round the World: Comprehending an Account of the Wreck By Thomas Braidwood Wilson.

Following is correspondence in the lass="auto-style2" href="">Colonial Times by Captain Nolbrow giving an account of the wreck of the Mermaid and other shipwrecks in 1829.......

By the arrival of the ship Calista, Captain Hawkins, from Swan River, we regret to learn that the ship Swiftsure, Captain Johnstone, which sailed from this port the 3rd May, lastly from Sydney, bound for Batavia or the Mauritias; the ship Governor Ready, Captain Young, which also sailed from this port on the 2nd of April, for the Isle of France; and the brig Comet, Captain James Fraser, (which sailed from Hobart Town the 2nd February last, for Sydney), from Port Jackson for India; and the Government schooner Mermaid, of Sydney, Captain Nolbrow, formerly commander of the ship Jessie, have all been lost on the sunken rocks in Torress Straits. This information is derived from Captain Nolbrow, who was picked up by some vessel, and landed at Swan River, from whence he has arrived here in the Calista. We are glad to add, that no lives have been lost in any of these shipwrecks.

{Since writing the above, we have been favored with the following communication : --

I request you will be pleased to insert, in your paper, for the information of the public and parties concerned, the loss and disasters of the following ships :--

Having sailed from Sydney on the 16th of May, in His Majestys Colonial schooner Mermaid, bound to Port Raffles, with Government dispatches and provisions for King Georges Sound, under my command, and having proceeded the inner passage for Torres Straits, on the 13th June, at a quarter before six a.m. found the vessel strike on a sunken coral reef, with nine feet water on it, not laid down in Captain Kings charts of the coast, in lat. 17° 7 S. long. 1 46° 10 E. with the following true bearings :--Fitzroy Island in a line with Cape Grafton, bearing N .W. 16 or 17 miles, the high peaked hill at Franklands Isles W. halt S. 9 or 10 miles, the coast of New Holland W. 16 or 17 miles ; the Mermaid was lost and abandoned the same evening, at 8 p.m. --the vessel bilged, and the water over the cabin deck.

The ship Governor Ready, Captain Young, in Torres Straits, going 8 knots, when she struck, and Captain Young and 1st mate on foretop-yard, at 3 p. m. on 18th May : the ships bows on the reef, and 7 fathoms water astern. No lives lost, and reached Timor in their boats.

The brig Comet, which sailed in company with the brig Fairfield from Sydney parted in the night. The Comet lost on Bootss reef - the crew picked up by the Fairfield, at Murrays Island

The ship Swiftsure, Captain Johnstone, in the 13° 28 S near Cape Sidmouth, totally lost on the 4th of July. The crew and part of the cargo and stores saved by the brig Resource, and gone to the Isle of France

The brig Resource having struck on Satellite Shoal, near Cape Flinders, got off - no material damage.

The ship Jupiter struck on the reef near Cairncross Island, received much damage, both pumps going, and gone to Java for repairs.

The schooner Admiral Gifford, of Sydney, Captain R. S. Walker, touched and unhung her rudder at Bloomfield River - not materially damaged.

The ship Marquis of Anglesea wrecked on the beach at Swan River, and went ashore in a gale of wind.

The ship Parmelia struck on a coral - received much damage in steering in for Swan River. Hove down by His Majestys ship Sulphur, and sailed for the Isle of France.

The brig Governor Philip arrived at Port Raffles about the 20th August, with the loss of two anchors, and about to sail for Copang and Swan River.

The brig Thompson taken up to convey Government stores to Swan River, sailed on the 25 August from Port Raffles-

The brig Amity in company both arrived in Swan River on the 28 September. The brig Amity broke an anchor laying under Rottnest Island, and laying in Gages Roads, Swan River, with only one anchor on board, leaky, and expecting to go ashore if another gale set in.

His Majestys ship Satellite arrived at Port Raffles in the early part of August.

The bark Reliance and the Thompson, in company having carried away her windlass in Torres Strait- saved by assistance from the Satellite, which was also nearly lost.

The schooner Admiral Gifford arrived at Port Raffles - all well, and sailed for Copane for horses, for Swan River, and saw him at sea about 4th September, lat 15° S. 116°, all well.

Spoke the Kingsdown whaler, from London four months about the 6th September. 16° S.113 to 114° E , all well, which informed me of having spoke the Atwik, Captain Jeffreys, which a number of people on board for Swan River, amongst whom was Mr. Peel, who has a large grant of land.

The ship Calista, with all her anchors broken, lay in Gages Roads, and was in imminent danger of going on shore -fortunately saved by leaving it!

SAMUEL NOLBROW. Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857) Fri 30 Oct 1829 Page 3

Notes and Links

1). The wreck of the Mermaid was re-discovered by an underwater archaeology team led by the Australian National Maritime Museum in early 2009 - A model tale by Stephen Gaps A.N.M.M