In colonial times, large numbers of ships travelling in virtually all weather conditions were frequently wreaked along Australia's coastline. There are a number of wrecks that occurred in the waters off Booderee National Park.
In colonial times the transport of people and goods relied heavily on shipping. Lighthouses aided navigation by marking treacherous sections of coast, but with large numbers of ships travelling in virtually all weather conditions shipwrecks were frequent.
Shipwrecks usually occurred in the most terrifying circumstances. Dark and stormy nights, huge seas, or heavy fog, made abandoning ship or rescue by other ships extremely hazardous. Lightkeepers were often the first to assist passengers and crews of wrecked vessels.
From 1875-1885, 198 vessels were lost of the NSW coast. Of the 2,563 passengers and crew involved in these wrecks nearly 10 per cent lost their lives.
The Wreck Bay coast acted like a trap for ships sailing too close to shore. Once inside the bay, where was no room to manoeuvre and ships were driven ashore. In 1886 the number of shipwrecks occurring in the Wreck Bay area prompted a reader of the Sydney Morning Herald to describe coastal shipping as 'a scheme for manufacturing widows and orphans ...'
1805 - Sloop 'Nancy' ran aground at Steamers Beach.Survivors took eleven days to walk to Sydney.
1835 - Convict ship 'Hive' driven ashore Bherwerre Beach.
1836 - Schooner 'Blackbird' wrecked while attempting to salvage stores from 'Hive' at Wreck Bay.
1850 - Barque 'Juniper' wrecked (carrying wine to Sydney) at St George Head.
1855 - Schooner 'Martha and Elizabeth' wrecked at Point Perpendicular.
1859 - The brigantine 'Caroline' wrecked at Point Perpendicular.
1865 - P.S. 'Mynora' wrecked at Steamers Beach.
1867 - Barque 'Julie Heyn' lost south of Jervis Bay.
1867 - Ketch 'Aeolus' loaded with timber, parted her cables and was blown ashore at Hole-in-the-Wall.
1869 - Schooner 'Missie' lost at the mouth of Currumbene Creek.
1870 - 'Maid of Riverton' blown ashore in Jervis Bay
1870 - Barque 'Summer Cloud' stranded at Wreck Bay and wrecked. This location now bears her name.
1874 - Schooner 'Mary' driven ashore at Wreck Bay by a gale. Mary Bay is named after this vessel.
1874 - The brig 'Rose of Australia' ran aground at Wreck Bay.
1876 - 'S.S. Dandenong' sank off Jervis Bay with great loss of life.
1882 - Steam collier 'Plutus' ran aground at Currarong.
1883 - The Schooner 'Agnes' foundered off Jervis Bay.
1886 - The passenger steamship 'S.S. Corangamite' lost at St Georges Head.
1893 - The schooner 'Result' wrecked near Beecroft Head.
1908 - Scow 'Hilda' ran aground at Wreck Bay loaded with timber.
1909 - The 'Naudura' grounded at Sussex Inlet.
1911 - 'S.S. Tilba' ran aground on rocks at Wreck Bay.
1915 - Schooner'Advance' driven ashore at Wreck Bay.
1915 - The coastal steamer 'Wandra' wrecked at Drum and Drumsticks.
1922 - The coastal trader 'Mokau' beached for repairs at Wreck Bay and destroyed in rough weather.
1928 - The passenger steamship 'S.S. Merimbula' ran aground at Currarong.
The Hive was one of only three convict ships lost in Australian waters. It sank in December 1835 with 250 Irish convicts, guards, the ship's crew, women, children and a cargo of coin worth £10,000 on board. Thanks to a rescue effort from the Wreck Bay community all but one of more than 300 passengers managed to survive the wreck.
In 2010 the wreck was placed under the New South Wales Heritage Register. Its importance lies in it being the only known ship wrecked on mainland Australia while carrying convicts.
The Corangamite | October 2009
A nineteenth century gravestone and some unidentified tiles could hold keys to Booderee's maritime past. Long-term Booderee staff member Martin Fortescue found the gravestone near Cave Beach back in the 1970s. Park staff have also found tiles at Wreck Bay from what was believed to be the wreck of the Corangamite, which ran aground in 1886. Many believe the tiles could be much older.