No corrections yet
THE MERCHANT. - ('Cairns Ai*gtts/)
lutfly.-in'the year 1878 a large North Atiieiican built ship called thg 'Mer chant' was chattered by a Melbourne firm to. land a cargo of cedar at the
PjUfttree river. She was one of the old 'seakool,' fclutnsy and cumbersome, but a good and safe ship, provided she had plenty of sea room. She was under the command of Captain John Quinn, with a full complement crew, and had as passengers the Captain's wife and two children.
At this time, cedar was in great de mand in the south, so that independent of the cargo she carried under hatches, she had a large number of logs on deck. The cedar was obtained by Freshney and sons, of: ^Maryborough, under the per sonal supervision of Captain Foulis.
" A very, sad fatality befell the Freshney. family; tiie father and one of the 6ons with' his newly married wife, whilst waiting at Gardwell for the arrival of the Merchant, were drowned off Man grove Island in Hinchinbrook Channel, througli the capsizing of a boat. This
ending , for poor Tom Fresh
sterling good son, and as for jus *newly m&de wife, she- was as
prec is >a picture, a counterpart of
TQtn a§ regards good-nature, what one
w9ul«jT«alla womanly woman.
leaving the Daintree the ves
c«1 m^with lier first mishap by touch
JEehnedy Shoal off iBroke Island,* '5"',y jdltp. get off this and reached
" after having been teiri patched up sh'e a^ain set sail: Ifseemed against her, for '^s-^ffcer the pilot left her, it
perfect tornado, to which the ves Ujtnbed with all hands. Thi< ^the" 8th March, 1878, when a
irt;ed well remembered by old
iW^^lpng the coast. Several vessels wierev|<jlt m-tlns terrific blow, a barqufc called the 'Kate Conley' also laden with cedjar. She must have turned turtle, as ffailly twelve months afterwards her hull
Was found bottom up in Prince Char lotte B&y.
Thefirst intimation of the loss oi the 'Merchant' was given in Townsville by Captain Joe McGee of the schooner Car rambene, poor old Joe, another of the good;old*has beens.' Joe is now in charge of the dummv * D1 a mantina/which curiously'enough, has also a 'past.' Mc Gee reported haying passed a large num ber cedar logs, and at great quantity of \vTedkage, apparently belonging to a large vessel, on his voyage from Cook town. This was' part of the ill fated 'Merchant.' She is supposed to have ' $truck; on -Slasher reef off the South
Pafrijs, ^as^.the bulk of-her cargo came ashdre in jRamsay Bay on Hinchinbrook Tslatfd; and as far north as the Frank larid^ In fatt she Was pretty well distributed alo ng th e coast; hfer star board quarter and part of her port bow. witha board with her name On it, were,
found-"jterched high on the rocks at Brooke Island, her figure head (an American Hag!el and a sailor's chest were picked up on the beach at Dunk Is land, fcer windlass with a child's pinafore attached was found at the South Frank lands, whilst her hull, consisting of from 120 to. 160 feet of the bottom with after end of the keelson, and also the ends of a few timbers kept in position by a quantity of *white granite* taken in at Melbourne as ballast, «vas found at a
sand bank 13 miles to the eastward of
Theire was no doubt of this being part of the wrecked vessel, as her an chors, .cables. boiler, and a great quanti ty of jy ire "rope rwas also strewn about on? th.ereef; one cable running fully half a m|le in a direct line along the reef.
. The wreckage was found by Yorkie;' a tbeche de met' man, and some eighteen, months after "the writer had the pleasure of. eating a slice of plum pudding, at Hits sjind bank; made by that illustrious pCF^on. 'John the Baptist,' hot John the Bible ilk/ but Yo rkie's black cook,?: and off a <?e'f plate brought up from, the hull of the Merchant by ,a black boy called 'Mickife.' That plate was in the writer's possession for many years, until a clumsy Irish, immigrant ended its life.
The-hut! arid cargo of the Merchant Were soM in Townsville and purchased by; A. B. Thomas .and Co. Thomas was a * one>Iegged watchmaker, an en thusiasti z yachtsman, and a white man in every sense if the term. He was an old ^boating associate of i>y-goiie days when
life was y.iutig. His partner was a Scotchman, and although Thomas found the 'money' at the end he had the
fjxperienc!', and the man from the land o' ' takies^lja'i money. . Such is life^
- This cost Thomas his life, as
from exposure to all sorts of weather, he caught a cold which settled in his lungs, and he has :«ow been for many years sleeping in peace in die lonely cem etery" of the pretty little town of Card well. which is also widowed of all save its beauty.
In recovering the cedar, or at least trying to do so, these fine vessels were lost all in Ramsay Bay, the barques 'Harriett. Armitage,' 'Charlotte An drews,' and schooner 'Belle'.
The writer was an eye witness tothe wreck of the Harriett Armitage, die vessel was three parts loaded whenitrbfe came necessary to run for shelter, and while getting under-weigh she missed stays, and Came br jad side on to the beach, where "ihe soon became a total wreck. She struck at about two in the morning, and by noon the next day her remains were scattered along the beach.
This wreck is a 'green spot' in my memory, one of the many I shall re member while life lasts, luckily no lives were lost, which was a miracle, as there was a tremendous surf on the beach.
This is a very treacherous bay, the wind and sea rising with extreme rapidity, and through its exposed position a mountainous sea gets up in no time.
It was luc.cy for the Cintra that she expeg^nced fine weather curing her so journ on the bejich, otherwise there would only have been the remains of that 'slow* though comfortable old
steamer to tell the tale.
The Harriett Armitage had for a figure head-the full figure of a woman; a beautiful model representing Liberty Thomas carefully covered it with oid sails and buried it. Three years later the writer came and dug it up, and it afterwards was the means of giving, me the greatest fright I ever had in.my life.
Taking it home. I got one of the men to paint'and titivate the figure up, and to place it at the bottom of the.steps leading to -the house to represent spine of my by---.? fancies. Well, in com H;? home on.;* ^ ry dark night, I ran up
i* ~-_d I am sure that forgone *? iiient my heart stopped. Silly f It was only a woman; and'.a wood < i one at that Nevertheless, 'Harrj^tt? gave me a. great start. The Charlotte Andrews also became " a 'total':', wreck whilst the Belle, when fully loaded part ed her cables and drifted 'whole* oil to the beach; tier remains are still to be seen.-' - .' ? i'.sl, .....
lively stretch of Bandy beach in Gainsay Bay, from HMcock Point to . Cape Sandwich, a distance of fully fif teen miles. Sandas white as snow.afl finer#s vi^et^pqwdler and as sofit a* velvet. The wrfcHSpenSt a veryjfleSUSr ant time iaSiajSBay Bay, inwandtrawf in sandybieache&«nd around, rocky hjeadrlandft^tting infto the:o<c^in,- in mtising -over beda jpf *iny shefl6,,fie«> high and dry hy «e(*ja)ted ^df§,rfn in* spenfing the innumerable ferns whiehi were^nringeveiywliere onthfrbjiBikB
of -a©? tlnyri vuleft, rocks, andsidja? -of : the hills In gfleat iu»iriance*eittd bym- " ty, and In- shooting ihe feafcheredvantl furred denlzehsof the scrub, of vfcicfi
there was no tack, a short disjjancQ irom <ttoe beach. And ithis was £2 years iago! Grealt Seott! this is *look
ihg backwards.' How old I am 'get ting. Yeft I aM young still. . ? ,