HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

23 March 2017

Loss of the Barque Solon

Disaster at Crookhaven Heads. - 1860

Tuesday 24th May 10 a.m -  The sailing vessel Solon, a barque of 565 tonnes, under the command of  Captain Rohde cleared the heads of Port Jackson at 10a.m., bound for Geelong with a cargo of 35 tons coals, 35tons of hay,  and a quantity of ships stores for the Armin,  now lying at Melbourne.  The weather was heavy with a S.W wind blowing.  Towards the afternoon it shifted to the east,  then later to the S.E. quarter.  The vessels head was kept off-shore, the gale steadily increased,  Captain Rohde’s ordered her sails to be reduced until she was under close-reefed topsails,  and reefed courses.

They made slow progress down the coast with a heavy easterly swell continuing to set in,  the ship was kept working to the southward, the conditions continued during Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,  blowing in very heavy squalls with thunder,  lightning and rain.

Friday 27th - The weather increased in such violence that the ship became unmanageable,  because of the heavy sea, and wind, she was able to carry very little canvas.  The weather was very thick,  Captain Rhode not seeing the sun since he left Sydney,  did not know his position.

25th May 3a.m -  The night was very dark when breakers where discovered under the lee,  the crew immediately set every inch of canvas the vessel could bare and endeavours made to claw her off the land,  but her fate was set, and shortly after she lifted bodily onto the rocks, her head at the time being southward.
The ship was driven heavily onto the rocks three times and swept over the outer reef into the deep water,  but she was still some distance from the mainland.

The vessel broke up rapidly,   the crew with great difficulty saved their lives, with the exception of one lad, named Louis Last,  a native of Bremen,  who was unfortunately drowned.   If the Solon had gone ashore a little more to the south,  none would have been saved.

When daylight appeared Captain Rohde had found the vessel had gone on shore on the south side of Crookhaven Head near Shoalhaven.  The hull of the Salon was in three parts,   little hope exists of saving anything beyond the spars and parts of the rigging and sails. 

Captain Rohdes arranged passage to Sydney by the Illawarra Steam Navigation Companies Steamer, Nora Creina,  leaving his officers and crew to save what they could.  It was an unlikely task as the sea was now making a clear breach over the ship,  leaving little hope of preserving any part of the hull or cargo.  Captain Rohde managed to save all the ships papers and his own clothing.

The ship was insured in Germany,  but the loss of the cargo fell on the shippers.

The Salon was originally from Oldenburg Germany. In December 1858 she sailed with approx 145 German immigrants from Bremen via Morton Bay then on to Sydney, arriving in Sydney on the 14th July 1959,  where she was chartered by the Colonial Sugar Company.

The Colonial Sugar Company is now known as CSR Limited, founded in Sydney in 1855.


The Steamer Nora Creina,  as mentioned above.
The Nora Creina, 142 tonnes was one of the earliest steam ships to operate in Australian waters, Built in Ireland as a three masted schooner, later converted to a paddle steamer, owned by the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company which use to frequent the ports on the south coast. The steamer was used for a twice weekly service on the Sydney to Shoalhaven Run
In 1858 the Nora Creina at great personal risc was involved in the rescue of survivors from the  Barque Annie wrecked at North Head Sydney.

Here is a report on the type of produce the steamer could be called on to transport.

Barque sail plan.



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