Wreck of the Bronzewing – King Island.
The following is the contents of a speech made by Mrs Sue Fisher who officiated at the ceremony of the 100th anniversary of the wreck of the ketch ‘Bronzewing’ at Naracoopa, King Island, Thursday November 13, 2014.
A Time Capsule was also buried as part of the commemoration.
I would like to now take us back into part of King Island’s history.
1911. Our Methodist church was built, in Currie
Father Shaw built the wireless station on the school grounds.
1912. The Cottage Hospital was established
1913. The All Saints Church was built.
1914. This is before we recognized Anzac day
It’s the start of WW1.
WE were a small community, just starting out, a small little jetty just of the shores of what was then called Eastbourne, or Fraser Bluff, or East Coast, but this area of King Island was an important part of the islands future.
It was Tuesday, 10th November, The weather was blowing hard from the South West, and the sea was rising,
The Ketch, ‘Bronzewing’, has just arrived in the bay, this was her maiden voyage to King Island.
She had been working as part of the Mosquito Fleet- in South Australia since she was launched on the river Derwent, in Hobart @11am, November, 1872,
She was built by the Hawkins Brothers, designed by Mr McLaren. Mrs Hawkins did the honours, naming her with ‘God speed the Bronzewing’.
Her spars decks and cabin fittings where all of Huon Pine,
She had a 73 feet keel.
She was 80 feet overall.
Her beam 21 feet.
The depth of her hold under the beam 6’ 6’’.and was registered about 75 to 80 tons, and capable of carrying 120 tons.
The deck stringer, which was all one piece, was 3’’ thick and Tasmania Blue Gum.
The topsides of Tasmania built vessels, had always been a weak point so in the building of the ‘Bronzewing’ this was kept in mind and her topsides where all of imported Kauri ( KARIE ) pine from New Zealand.
The ‘Bronzewing’ was purchased and by a South Australian company, and due to her large carrying capacity with a shallow draught she was used for coastal trade, known as the Mosquito Fleet. Loading vessels that could not get close to port, she also worked on the shipping of the ‘Grain Trade’
In 1914, she was purchased by J.H. Edwards of Hobart and was too returned to the Tasmanian cargo trade.
On her return trip to Tasmania she called into the Melbourne Port and was loaded with cargo to build the new jetty on the east coast of King Island. On completion of this trip she was to return to Melbourne and load with general cargo for Tasmania.
This never happened.
The ‘Bronzewing’ arrived on the east coast of King Island, and anchored close to shore, for the unloading on the next day even though the weather was blowing hard from the south west.
She was heavily loaded with material and plant for BARRIE & HENRIKSON & CO who had the contract to build the new jetty.
The weather continued to deteriorate overnight and by morning on Wednesday 11th November the wind suddenly veered around to the North East and increased in strength.
Captain Sullivan did all in his power to divert a disaster, but as the seas rose and the wind increased the ‘Bronzewing’ was immediately in trouble. She started to drag her anchor, and due to her being anchored close to shore, she was soon wrecked on the rocky shore line, just down from where we stand today. A large proportion of cargo was salvaged, with the help of around 80 men employed to build the new jetty, when it became apparent that the vessel appeared to break in two, under the main hatch area .
The wreck of the ketch, ‘Bronzewing’ was later sold at auction for
5 pound.to Captain Burgess of Melbourne.
There was no loss of life, the crew of 6 all got ashore safely.
by Mike Nash,
The Bronzewing was Located in 1994.
15 metres north of beach directly opposite the original ‘Naracoopa Sea Side Snacks’, ( Mrs Hopwoods)
Located in water of a depth of 2 metres to 4 metres.