The year that was……..2016

2016 was a turbulent year, on a personal note I had many highs and some fabulous adventures, but globally there was so much sadness. 2016 was a terrible year for singers, writers and actors; Jon English, Prince, David Bowie, Glen Frey, we lost Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder and now George Michael and Carrie Fischer; just among the few. I won’t go into the horrendous acts of violence here, but there were far too many of them too.

We did a great many day trips and weekends away;

I was so lucky to get so many of my digital art pieces published, and hope to have many more in 2017.

I started my own Vimeo and YouTube channel…….please visit, like and share. I have created and printed two books and a range of greeting cards, and participated in many fun and exciting workshops, as well as ran many of my own.

It has been one hell of a ride…………I hope 2017 is just as full of amazing adventures, with less sadness and loss.

~ Julz


Spring Outings – Mont de Lancey Homestead

Built in 1867 Mont de Lancey by Henry Sabire the estate had humble beginnings and was one of the early settlers in the are of Wandin in the Yarra Valley, about one hour from Melbourne. More history can be read here.

We visited on this occasion for the Draught Horse & Vintage Machinery Weekend 

A fun day with working displays including:

  • Draught Horses ploughing the fields
  • Vintage Machinery running up a huge head of steam
  • Blacksmiths firing up the forges to make horse shoes
  • Woodturners making a range of beautiful timber objects
  • Working dogs rounding up sheep
  • Creative chainsaw carving
  • PLUS much more

A great destination for a day trip, just an hour’s drive from Melbourne.

It was a cloudy morning, which then cleared into quite a warm afternoon, but such a glorious day up in the Yarra Valley.  We watched the Cattle dogs herd sheep, watched whips being made and used.

Watched woodturners and blacksmiths, draught horses ploughing, hay baling, vintage and classic cars, wood carving and vintage machinery. We explored the grounds and the homestead, the church and schoolyard, the roses gardens and the museum. We met some great characters and talked to many people, I adore to watch these Master Craftsmen (and Women) do what they do best. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways…..true modern machinery makes things cheaper and quicker, but not as well. It was such a wonderful day out.

~ Julz


Weekend Wanderings – Guilfoyle’s Volcano

On a recent trip to the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens we stopped at Guilfoyle’s Volcano and spent quite a bit of time there,

Guilfoyle’s Volcano was built in 1876 and was used to store water for the botanic gardens. After lying idle for 60 years, it was restored as part of a significant landscape development project called Working Wetlands. 

This spectacular and historic water reservoir has commanding views of the city, and its striking landscape design showcases low water use plants. Boardwalks and viewing platforms give visitors the opportunity to explore this long-hidden but remarkable feature of Melbourne Gardens.

Guilfoyle’s Volcano is in the south-east corner of the gardens and is easily accessible via C Gate (enter via Anderson Street) and D Gate (enter via Birdwood Avenue).

It has a stunning array of Cacti and Succulents surrounding the reservoir and the reservoir itself has moving islands or tussocks for of water plants……very pretty and serene; and so many, many photos 🙂

I hope I did bore you too much, til next time happy snapping…

~ Julz


WPC – Admiration

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is Admiration, and must admit after spending one weekend in Victoria’s Alpine Region I have a lot of admiration for the hardy men and women who forged this land. The Cattlemen (and Women) of the Victorian High Country led such rugged, harsh and lonely lives. True the grandeur of the area is undeniable, but I was there with clear skies and cold nights; no snow, no rain or storms and certainly no bush fires, which are known to ravage these lands.

Craigs Hut

This is Craig’s Hut, it is a replica built for the movie The Man From Snowy River, it is still fairly accurate in it’s construction (This is the fourth rebuild,  mostly lost to bush fires).

And this is Fry’s Hut built in the 1930’s and is the only remaining original bush hut in the high country.

Til next time, safe travels and happy snapping…



Victorian Lighthouses – Whalers Bluff, Portland

Overlooking the large Port of Portland is the Lighthouse Reserve, also known as Whalers Bluff. Here amongst seaside cottages is a functioning Lighthouse.



The Whalers Bluff Lighthouse was originally erected with keeper’s quarters on Battery Point in 1859 and was known as the Portland Bay Lighthouse. It was first lit in that same year. The lantern was made in England. The lighthouse was then relocated, stone by stone, to it’s current position on North Bluff (Whaler’s Bluff) in 1889 to make way for gun emplacements on Battery Point. Another reason given for the relocation was that it was less vulnerable to attack on Whaler’s Bluff.

LOCATION: Latitude 38°20’4″ S, Longitude 141°36’6″ E 
OPERATOR: Victoria Channels Authority
EXHIBITED: 1859 Battery Point. 1889 Whalers Bluff
CONSTRUCTION: Dressed stone
CHARACTER: Group Flashing White and Red every 10 seconds
ELEVATION: 41 metres
RANGE: 15 nautical miles
HEIGHT: 12 metres
CUSTODIAN: Victoria Channels Authority

This site was situate a mere 5 minutes from where our hotel was located, and we visited a few times in our short stay. We went late one evening and thought it must be a brilliant sport for sunrise. So up early again we were, but that damn sea mist and low cloud were back and sunrise……….it was a no show again. I did get some good shots of the lighthouse and port though.


Well that brings me to the end of this stretch of Victorian Coastline, perhaps another time we will head out East and cover that area, through South Gippsland and Wilson’s Prom. This is another wild and rugged area of Victoria’s coastline heading towards the NSW Border. Til next time folks, happy snappy and safe travels……


Victorian Shipwrecks – Portland to Nelson

I thought I might split this last spot into two post; one for the Lighthouse and one for the Shipwrecks – there are a lot.

Nelson (SA Border)

I freely admit we did not go looking for these three, they are listed as not found and we had already visited so many spots, where nothing was found and there is nothing to see, but it would be remiss of me to not mention them, as they are the final three along this bit of the coast. The fact is that there is not alot of ANYTHING at Nelson, but the Cafe did make good coffee.

S.S. Perseverance 1890 – 1898 (not found) The S.S. Perseverance was wrecked on the sandbar at the mouth of the Glenelg River whilst attempting a voyage from Nelson to the river Murray in South Australia.

The Triumph 1840 – 1863 (not found) The Western Australian-built schooner The Triumph disappeared whilst on a voyage from Port MacDonnell to Port Adelaide. The remains of the vessel were later found cast ashore at Discovery Bay. There were no survivors.

John Ormerod 1826 – 1861 (not found) The English-built schooner John Ormerod came ashore east of the Glenelg River mouth, after having been blown over on to its side whilst off Cape Bridgewater. Only three of the crew survived.


Portland is one of the few natural deep water ports in Australia. Bass Strait sealers are thought to have used it as a base well before the 1820s when it became an established whaling station. Since then, with the growth of a prosperous hinterland and fishing industries, the arrival of goldseekers, immigration and, more recently, manufacturing developments, Portland has become a thriving city. Before the construction of the breakwaters and deepwater moorings, Portland Bay was a trap for vessels at anchor. Strong south-easterly gales often caught them unprepared and drove them ashore. There are 17 shipwrecks in Portland Bay. These vessels carried immigrants and all manner of cargoes, including timber, whaling products, potatoes, clothing, alcohol and pianos. Most have never been located.

Henry 1827 – 1834 (not found) The small schooner Henry became the first recorded shipwreck in Portland Bay when it was forced ashore while loading whale oil in August 1834.

New Zealander 1852 – 1853 The immigrant ship New Zealander had discharged its 465 passengers and was undergoing repairs when it caught fire. The remains of the wreck can still be seen in the water below the Lighthouse Reserve.

Lady Robilliard 1845 – 1867 (not found) The Lady Robilliard was on a voyage from Port Adelaide to Portland when a south-easterly gale drove it ashore near Whalers Bluff.

Argo 1867 – 1883 (not found) The 17-ton wooden cutter Argo, built in Port Fairy, was wrecked on Portland beach during a south-easterly gale on 31 December 1883.

Margaret and Agnes 1850 – 1852 (not found) The Victorian-built schooner Margaret and Agnes had just arrived at Portland Bay from Port Fairy with a cargo of potatoes, flour and bran, when it was blown ashore.

Mary Jane 1846 – 1852 (not found) Following the wreck of the Canadian-built brigantine, Mary Jane and the stranding of the schooner Brothers in May 1852, the Portland Guardian criticized the vessels’ captains for anchoring too close to shore, and called on the Colonial Government to appoint a harbour master at Portland.

Tui 1868 – 1883 (not found) The 18-ton cutter Tui, built at Port Fairy in 1868, was reported wrecked at Portland following a south-easterly gale in 1883.

Nestor 1840-1854 (not found) The immigrant ship Nestor was lost due to foul play. After the wreck, divers discovered three holes bored in the hull. The master was later arrested and charged with scuttling his ship, but charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Australasia 1847 – 1855 (not found) Australasia and Constant were both driven ashore during a severe gale in March 1855. The Australasia was sold to the Henty brothers, who made a small fortune by salvaging the cargo of wool.

Constant 1843 – 1855 (not found) The Constant had just discharged its 229 immigrants before being blown ashore during a storm, possibly because of poor anchors.

Regia 1835 – 1860 The remains of the Indian-built barque Regia, grounded during a severe gale, can still be seen lying in two metres of water next to the reclaimed land on the Portland foreshore.

Tamora 1853-1860 (not found) The wooden barque Temora blew ashore in a gale while unloading cargo. Portland police charged some people with theft from the vessel, including the master of the schooner Eva, which was wrecked in the same gale.

Elizabeth 1837 – 1844 (not found) The Tasmanian-built schooner Elizabeth and another schooner, Sally Ann, were driven ashore during a south-easterly gale in Portland Bay in mid-November 1844.

Elizabeth 1838 – 1846 (not found) The Canadian-built brig Elizabeth was totally wrecked on the beach directly below the Portland town site during a south-easterly gale in November 1846.

Henry 1853 (not found) According to some sources, the two-masted schooner Henry, built specifically to trade between Melbourne and Portland, went ashore during a gale at Portland in September 1853 and became a total wreck.

Sally Ann 1826 – 1844 (not found) The Bermudan-built schooner Sally Ann, owned by Stephen Henty, was a regular visitor to Portland. She was driven ashore in a south-easterly gale in mid November 1844, along with the schooner Elizabeth.

Merope’s boat 1839 (not found) One of the earliest recorded wrecks in Portland Bay was that of a small boat from the barque Merope. It struck a reef while the crew was hunting whales off Lawrence Rocks in May 1839. Furthermore the actual vessel Merope came to grief not far away in 1853, after striking a reef east of the Fitzroy River mouth. The Indian-built sailing ship Merope had also survived a stranding in Western Australia. Oops not a good safety record on this one.


This last image was taken late evening on the edge of Whaler’s Bluff overlooking the Port of Portland. Which is where I will finish off my Posts of Lighthouses along the Victorian coast.


Summer Outings – Pentridge Prison Ghost Tours

This is not your normal Summer Family Outing and it’s been a little while since we did one, but we love a good Ghost Tour, in fact I don’t think I have ever written a post about one. We did one of Melbourne CDB, which was mostly a walking history tour of the early days with some dismemberment thrown in, the whole Underbelly and Squizzy Taylor Days.We also did another of Beechworth Gaol and Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum (I am doing it again in September too). That was in a derelict mansion with screeching possums.Lots of fun.Anyway, with a group of friends (6 in total) we recently did a tour of the now closed HM Pentridge Prison, Coburg, Victoria.


wp-1456666654700.jpgHM Prison Pentridge was a prison built in 1850 in Coburg, Victoria. The first prisoners arrived in 1851. The original structure was made from wood, yep, that will keep criminals nicely locked away. Apparently fire, or even simply kicking down the door had not occurred to those in authority at the time. So a large Bluestone building was built.According to our Lantern Ghost Tour Guide, Ross, the first prisoners were women and they were all in one large dormitory style accommodation, apparently they thought THAT would be a GOOD IDEA at the time too………didn’t last long, and ended in a Coronial Inquiry into Gross Sexual Deviancy!

Pentridge Prison was often known by the nickname “The Bluestone College”, “Coburg College” or the “College of Knowledge”, as young criminals came out better prepared for a more profitable criminal career, than when they came in, learning from those on the inside what NOT to do to get caught.

The prison was split into many divisions, named using letters of the alphabet.

  • A – Short and long-term prisoners of good behaviour but during the late 1980s till its closure it became a scene of many monthly bashings, stabbings and bludgeonings.
  • B – Long-term prisoners with behaviour problems
  • C – Vagabonds and short term prisoners, where Ned Kelly was imprisoned (Demolished early 1970s)
  • D – Remand prisoners
  • E – A dormitory division housing short term prisoners
  • F – Remand and short-term
  • G – Psychiatric problems
  • H – High security, discipline and protection
  • J – Young Offenders Group- Later for long-term with record of good behaviour
  • Jika Jika – maximum security risk and for protection, later renamed K Division

We went into D Division, where the last prisoners executed in Australia (man and woman), were housed.Ronald Ryan was the last man executed at Pentridge Prison and in Australia. Ryan was hanged in “D” Division at 8.00 on 3 February 1967 after being convicted of the shooting death of a prison officer during a botched escape from the same prison. Later that day, Ryan’s body was buried in an unmarked grave within the “D” Division prison facility. The last person, a woman to be hanged was 16 years prior to this.D Division saw the likes of Peter Dupas, Mark ‘Chopper’ Reid, Squizzy Taylor, Julian Knight, and Christopher Dale Flannery amongst many, many others.

The prison officially closed on 1 May 1997. Since decommissioning, the prison has been partly demolished to make way for a housing development. We heard many stories of murder, intrigue and strange sightings, from within the prison walls, it was eerily dark and we were kept to a fairly confined area. Once the tour completed we were free to roam the halls of D Division for 20 minutes for photos etc.It was all really spooky and a lot of fun………..sadly no ghosts or strange goings on. Oh and the Pentagram on the cell floor? Apparently an inmate or two was into the dark arts, Eddie Leonski.

Anyway if you have never done a Lantern Ghost tour, check them out, I am sure someone will be doing one near you!


Summer Outings -Point Nepean National Park

MapWe recently spent a weekend down on the Mornington Peninsula, right on the very tip, past Portsea is Point Nepean National Park.The entrance to Port Phillip Bay was the most heavily fortified ports in the Southern Hemisphere with Colonial and Commonwealth structures from 1880 – 1940s located all around the park. There is also a Quarantine Station which was established in 1852 and was used as such up until 1980. You can walk the length from Gunners Cottage to Fort Nepean (3.8kms) or catch the handy shuttle bus. Past the Cottage there is no transport allowed beside pedestrian and bicycle.  The park itself is 560 hectares and has a rich history in shaping early Victorian settlement. In 1967 it was the scene of a baffling mystery involving our then current Prime Minister Harold Holt, who went for a swim and never came back – check out the conspiracy theories, they are quite diverse.

This is an area Moth and I have never been too, although we have made frequent visits over the last 12 months to the Mornington Peninsula, it was one of those places we would visit eventually. Ever noticed how sometimes such a small area can required a huge amount of exploring to uncover all it’s secrets? I have tried to keep photos brief, but there is still a lot, also notice those fluffy white clouds? That’s what stuffed up our astro shoot the night before – no wonder we hardly saw any sky!

Gunners Cottage

This is mid way between the Quarantine Station and Fort Nepean and where you need to leave your car. Some interesting information and photographs contained at the cottage, although not much else, more of a picnic area.  There are quite a few walks starting from here; Coastal Walk (500m), Range Area Walk (1.8km) which takes in the former rifle range, Monash Break and you can climb the Monash Light Tower, the range area was used to train cadets for firing rifles, grenades and machine guns. Wilsons Folly is a 1.7km track down to London Bridge, it joins up with the long Coastal Walk from Cape Schanck. From here we caught the shuttle to Fort Nepean.

Fort Nepean

There is a series of Military fortifications, dating back to 1880s with stunning views of Port Phillip Bay. We explored the extension tunnels, forts and gun emplacements which were actively used during WWI and WWII. It is quite amazing and most of it is quite intact, although the guns have been moved. You can also take a rather long, steep walk down to the Engine Room and explore along the beach line. We then walked the 800m (approx) up to Pearse Barracks, going through an areas called The Narrows, it’s easy to see why, both the Bay and the Ocean are separated by a mere sliver of land, which continually needs re inforcing from the elements, there is a single lane road which services pedestrians and the shuttle bus. We even managed to save the life of a local Blue Tongue Lizard which had wandered across the road from the shuttle bus.


Pearse Barracks

More fortifications and remains of where many of the army personnel stationed at Point Nepean lived. Someone has a sense of humour as there are no walls, but the toilet, showers and even a bed have been replaced (all concrete to survive the extreme weather), giving an idea of the sparse accommodation they endured. There is more stunning views and the Eagles Nest was the site of Australia’s largest disappearing gun

A disappearing gun, a gun mounted on a disappearing carriage, is an obsolete type of artillery which enabled a gun to hide from direct fire and observation. The overwhelming majority of carriage designs enabled the gun to rotate backwards and down behind a parapet, or into a pit protected by a wall after it was fired; a small number were simply barbette mounts on a retractable platform. Either way, retraction lowered the gun from view and direct fire by the enemy while it was being reloaded. It also made reloading easier, since it lowered the breech to a level just above the loading platform, and shells could be rolled right up to the open breech for loading and ramming.


We then jumped on the shuttle bus and got off at the next stop Cheviot Hill, unfortunately we missed the echidna which had wondered across the road between the two stops 😦 by the time we started to wander back it had disappeared again.

Cheviot Hill

Cheviot Hill is the Park’s highest point and contains WWII Fortifications, everywhere there are signs warning people not to leave the marked trail due to unexploded bombs! After the arduous climb to the top it over looks Cheviot Beach, the site of Harold Holt’s disappearance. A memorial is placed 500m up the road. We then caught the shuttle back to Gunners Cottage and walked to the cemetery and onto the coastal walk to Observatory Point where the remains of the old Cattle Jetty can still be seen, as well as what remains of the border fence between the two areas; Defence and Quarantine.

By the time we had explored and investigated most of Point Nepean it was getting quite late and our feet were extremely sore and we were getting really tired. 30 minutes to explore the enormous Quarantine Station would not have done it justice, so we opted to leave it for another day. We love this area and frequent it often, so another trip is definitely on the cards.


On a side note I found this grave in the cemetery, this little girl died over 120 years ago, she drowned in a shipwreck on an immigration boat coming to start a new life in Australia, she was one month old. Sad, but even if she survived she would still have been gone by now. However it struct a chord with someone who left a small teddy bear next to the grave in her memory. The original grave marker, has been replaced, as most of the graves here have, perhaps the harsh environment took it’s toll.



Well that’s about it from here, til next time, happy snapping………..







Victorian Lighthouses and Shipwrecks – Griffiths Island

Griffiths Island, often incorrectly spelled as Griffith Island, sits at the mouth of the Moyne River  within the boundary of Port Fairy itself. Griffiths has no permanent (human) inhabitants, and is connected to the mainland by a causeway and is only accessible by foot. It forms part of the Port Fairy and Belfast Coastline Protection Reserve and, as well as being a tourist attraction, is an important site in the context of the history of European settlement of western Victoria.

When we were in Port Fairy the sea mist (which we have not really seen before) was surrounding us, we could barely see a few feet in front of us. It made sightseeing difficult, although did make for some moody photos! It was hot and humid and quite eerie walking along the causeway from the mainland to the island, there are shallows full of swans, ducks and various birds, ghosting along silently on calm water. I put a post on Instagram about how it reminded me of the horror movie The Fog…….which strangely was liked by the Port Fairy Tourist Centre!

We walked the 1.5km walk on the short, easy side (no sand dunes) it is all bitumen and gravel paths on that side. Lots of lovely trees surrounded by mist and we spotted a wallaby as well………..not very shy, so we got lots of photos. The path takes you directly to the lighthouse which eventually appeared out of the mist, it is also located at the end of a short causeway surrounded by lots of rocks and a little sand. Part of the fence and gate is all that remains of the Gatekeeper’s Residence.


Griffiths Island was named after John Griffiths, an entrepreneur and merchant from Tasmania, who figured prominently in the early history of the area. From the mid 1830s until 1843 the island served as a base for a bay whaling station for Southern Right Whales, until the supply of whales was exhausted and the industry went into terminal decline.

Griffiths Island Lighthouse was built in 1859, from local bluestone. The stairway was constructed with each step being inserted in the next course of stone in the outer wall. The lighthouse was initially manned by two keepers, the last keeper to live on the island was there from 1929 to 1954, when the light was automated; the two stone keepers’ cottages were subsequently demolished in about 1956. The island is about 1.5 km long and 0.8 km wide at its widest point, with an area of about 31 ha.

Griffiths Island Lighthouse
Coordinates 38°23′06″S 142°15′04″E
Year first lit 1859
Construction bluestone tower
Tower shape cylindrical
Markings / pattern white tower with red trim and lantern
Height 11 m
Focal height 12.5 m
Original lens catadioptric lantern
Range 22 km
Characteristic group flashing white, twice every 10 seconds
Admiralty number K2146
NGA number 8028
ARLHS number AUS-086


Some 80 plus bird species have been recorded on the island, especially seabirds and waders. There is a large breeding colony of short-tailed shearwaters, locally known as ‘muttonbirds’, with an estimated 100,000 burrows.  The shearwater colony is a tourist attraction in spring and summer, there is a viewing area to watch the birds as they return in a swarm to their burrows at sunset. There are other animals residents on the island include swamp wallabies, short-beaked echidnas, blue-tongued lizards and tiger snakes; we only saw the wallabies.


Port Fairy sits at the mouth of the Moyne River, and is one of Victoria’s earliest settlements, it began as a whaling station. Twenty ships were lost at Port Fairy when driven ashore by southerly gales between 1836 and 1876. During this period, Port Fairy grew from a sealing and whaling base to a thriving rural port. Here are just a few, we never saw any evidence of the wreckage.

Socrates 1821 – 1843 The British built whaler was wrecked with its cargo of cattle, sheep and oil from Tasmania when its cable parted during an easterly gale.

Lydia 1825 – 1843 The Liverpool-built South American trader was sailing from Sydney to London in ballast when lost after running ashore.

Thistle 1825 – 2837 The Indian-built schooner owned by the Hentys was wrecked when its crew was collecting wattle bark during the off-season from whaling.

Essington 1826 – 1852 Government-built in Sydney as a troop and convict transport, it was privately owned when wrecked in a gale while carrying general cargo from Sydney


Victorian Shipwrecks – The Mahogany Ship

Most of the shipwrecks I have presented so far and the ones still to come are fact, recorded, eye witnessed and even physical evidence or salvage as proof. There is one shipwreck which for Australians has been raised to the level of Urban Myth or Folklore……… it real of not? There are many tales and stories; even books tell tales of this mysterious ship half buried in sand dunes near Port Fairy, a few vague eye witness accounts, but never any proof. I thought it deserved it’s own post.

Even in the early 19th Century it was considered an ancient wreck, how long had it been there, where did it come from? Some believe it is a 16th century Portugese caravel to an early American sealing vessel. Many theories state that is real or not real, that it is anything from Portugese, to Chinese; there are rumours and thoughts of secret mission, government cover ups and espionage. It was a very different world back then and the hunt for gold, spices, and new territory was a battle fraught with danger and intrigue.

In many of the accounts written in the late 19th century, the Mahogany Ship was described as Spanish. According to local writer and antiquarian Jack Loney, several theories supporting the Spanish connection were advanced. One theory was that the ship was the galleon “Santa Ysabel”, which had sailed from Peru in 1595.

Today, a popular theory suggests that the vessel is a missing ship of voyage of Portuguese exploration, wrecked in 1522. Kenneth McIntyre advanced this theory in 1977, as part of his theory of Portuguese discovery of Australia. According to McIntyre the Mahogany Ship was part of a secret expedition, under Cristóvão de Mendonça, that set out from the Spice Islands in 1522 to look for the Isles of Gold. McIntyre argued secrecy would have been essential because the mariners were entering waters deemed Spanish under the Treaty of Tordesillas. He suggested that, after discovering the north coast of Australia, they followed and chartered it and continued down the east coast and around Cape Howe, before one of the caravels was wrecked at Warrnambool. The other ships turned back and returned to the Spice Islands and then Portugal. Maps and documents of such a voyage were kept locked away in Portugal so as to avoid antagonising Spain and to keep the discoveries from her or other nations. McIntyre suggested that all of the original documents have since been lost or destroyed, except for references to Jave la Grande, which appear on the French Dieppe school of maps. Lawrence Fitzgerald also supported McIntyre’s theory connecting the Mahogany ship to a Portuguese voyage in his 1984 book, Java La Grande. However, Peter Trickett’s 2007 book on the theory of Portuguese discovery of Australia, Beyond Capricorn, found fault with McIntyre’s interpretation of the Mahogany ship as a caravel, and noted that until the wreck is found, “all theories must remain to some degree speculative.” Bob Nixon (2001) and Murray Johns (2005) have both criticised McIntyre’s account for adding confusion to the story of the Mahogany ship through his identification of the wreck as a caravel.

In 2002 English writer Gavin Menzies speculated that the ship was a modified Chinese junk. He pointed to the reports that it was made of a ‘dark wood’ and was ‘of an unconventional design’. He also cited claims that local Aborigines had a tradition “yellow men” had at one time come from the wreck. The claims of Chinese origin have not been well received in academic circles. Many notable historians have dismissed the notion as fanciful at best.

In 2005, The Age newspaper reported Canberra mathematician Dr. Frank Coningham’s claim that in the 1980s he had seen a document in a collection of British Parliamentary Papers showing British authorities “dismantled the wreck to prevent an Australian land claim by the King of Portugal.” However, Sydney archaeologist Denis Gojak has also investigated the claim and searched British Parliamentary papers. He has been unable to find such a document and doubts its existence as reported.

Dr. Murray Johns’ theory is that the Mahogany Ship was an incomplete vessel probably built by escaped Tasmanian convicts. He argues they may have arrived on the schooner Unity in 1813, which was wrecked or beached nearby. In his view, this theory explains the repeated nineteenth century references to several unidentified wrecks in different locations in the area. It also accounts for the finds of wood from northern New South Wales (where the Unity had been built), and the nineteenth century descriptions of the Mahogany Ship as crude construction.


There have been of course, many searches for this infamous ship wreck, from the 19th Century through to more recent, using Google Maps an aerial survey equipment, government rewards and private endeavours. Apart from a few stray pieces of wood, which could have been from any wreck there is still no evidence of what the ship was, or even if it was at all.