Lost boat declared a historic shipwreck

SHIPWRECK: The ketch Capella at sea near Thevenard about 1919. It is similar to the one lost in 1943. Picture: State Library of SA PRG 280/1/19/319
SHIPWRECK: The ketch Capella at sea near Thevenard about 1919. It is similar to the one lost in 1943. Picture: State Library of SA PRG 280/1/19/319

The wreck of a fishing boat lost on rocks near Ceduna in 1943 has now been classified as a historic shipwreck and protected under state and federal legislation.

The ketch Native was lost near Goalen Rocks in October 1943 while travelling from Streaky Bay to Denial Bay or Ceduna.

Owner Hartley Thiselton, Captain Fred Beckmann and two other men were on board when the ketch hit the rocks and broke in two, but all made it to safety on a dinghy.

Native was a 20 tonne, 13 metre wooden ketch built at Port Adelaide in 1900 and had previously been part of South Australia’s famous Mosquito Fleet which operated from 1836 until 1982.

The fleet’s heyday was in the 1880s and 1890s, before reliable land transport was available.

The fleet of small ketches, cutters and schooners worked in both shallow coastal waters and gulf waters to supply vital goods to isolated regional settlements, often returning with valuable cargo of wheat, wool and minerals.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said Native was one of more than 800 shipwrecks around South Australia’s coastal and inland waters.

“These wrecks are an important and fascinating link to our state’s heritage and they provide an insight into the lives of people who travelled by sea and were the life-blood of transporting regional produce to markets in Adelaide and interstate as the state developed,” he said.

“Shipwrecks are also interesting sites for divers and snorkelers and home to a range of marine life.

“These tough little boats often had minimal crew who had hard working lives and faced big seas.”

Mr Speirs said they were the backbone of the coastal trading market from the early days of colonial settlement, with a few continuing to ply their trade until the early 1980s.

The Department for Environment and Water is responsible for the identification, management, protection and promotion of South Australia’s maritime heritage under the state’s Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981 and the Commonwealth’s Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Under both Acts, all shipwrecks and associated relics are automatically entered on the register of Historic Shipwrecks 75 years after they are wrecked.

The formal protection makes it illegal to damage, destroy, remove or dispose of any historic shipwrecks or relics.

Three wrecks — Zanoni, South Australian and the ex-HMAS Hobart — are surrounded by protected zones.

Native’s precise location has not been identified, but based on reports at the time, the wreck site is believed to be in about 10 metres of water at -32.395932°S 133.709698°E, which is within Nuyts Archipelago Marine Park.

Anyone finding the wreck site is required to notify the department of the discovery.