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22 March 2014

The Coolangatta, Shoalhaven connection

On this day: March 22 1974
REMAINS ON BEACH A cyclone which hit Queensland uncovered the remains of the Brigantine Coolangatta and deposited them on North Kirra Beach. The Coolangatta had been driven ashore 130 years earlier and wrecked in 1846.

Ref: photograph and article.

Coolangatta's story 1846.
She had been sitting at anchor for 5 weeks unable to enter the Tweed due to silting in the bar.
At the time she was carrying two convict prisoners (George Craig in irons, and William George Lewis), ready to load red cedar logs at the Tweed River for Sydney.
Ironically it was a severe cyclone that tore the Coolangatta from her anchors and drove her onto the shore. Captain Steel was ashore at the time and unable to get back to the ship because of the sea conditions. Their attempt to row their small boat through the surf saw them stranded on the beach when the boat was damaged in the surf.
”As the cyclone intensified the ship was torn adrift, the prisoners freed, and all aboard “saved themselves by swimming through the surf at the imminent risk of their lives”...”

coolangatta-mapThe captain, crew and prisoners reached the pilot station at Amity Point on Stradboke Island having walked from Point Danger along the beach. They were fed nightly by friendly Aborigines, the journey of 70 miles took six days.

In 1883 government surveyor Henry Schneider when sent to “plan a town at Point Danger” saw the wreck and named the adjacent “Coolangatta Creek” in field notes.
It is believed that this naming was responsible for the name given to the new township of Coolangatta when the first allotments were auctioned in 1884.”

The connection to the Shoalhaven. alexander berryAlexander Berry.
The Coolangatta was built by James Blinkcell in 1843 for Alexander Berry whose property, Coolangatta Estate, adjoined Coolangatta mountain located on the northern bank of the Shoalhaven River.
Berry first visited the Shoalhaven in January 1822 taking the cutter Snapper into Crook Haven (formerly Shoals Haven on the charts) from which he proceeded overland to examine the country on either side of the river. The rich alluvial soils and natural grassy 'meadows' led him to choose the Shoalhaven as the site for an estate and he returned in June 1822 to occupy it.
The Estate still exists and is now a first class winery and restaurant that uses the original buildings, well worth a visit.

“For my headquarters I fixed on the north side of the river at the foot of a hill called by the natives ‘Collungatta’. I located the 10,000 acres grant in this locality”

‘Collungatta’ was the Aboriginal word for fine view, a description that Berry found difficult to dispute.

1925 it was exposed by another storm only to disappear beneath the sand once again. The old wreck was located by rutile miners, 30 feet below sand level, in 1954.  In 1973 the Queensland Government tried to blow it up as it was proving a hazard to shipping and surfers – unsuccessfully.  On 22 March 1974, another cyclone dumped it high on the beach and souvenir hunters quickly removed what the sea and the Government had been unable to destroy in 127 years.

Ship Description:
brigantine A brigantine is a two-masted vessel with her foremast fully square rigged and her mainmast rigged with both a fore-and-aft mainsail (usually a gaff sail) and square topsails (and possibly topgallant sails).
Coolangatta; Brigantine; 88 tons; 19.2 x 5.2 x 2.7 m

”But we neither wished to elbow any one, nor to be elbowed”
Ref: Biography – What a life, it makes interesting reading.

. http://www.couriermail.com.au/archive/news/coolangatta-owes-its-name-to-a-surveyor-with-a-sense-of-history/story-e6frep3f-1225852127161
. http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/disaster/maritime/display/92189-coolangatta-shipwreck
. ref:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolangatta,_Queensland#Schooner_Coolangatta
. Coolangatta estate

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