It’s hard not to have one’s attention captivated by a name such as The Deadwater. Located near Busselton, the name evokes a sense of darkness, mystery and foreboding. Sounding like something out of a pirate movie, it will come as no surprise to find that for years there have been rumours that a mysterious shipwreck was lying hidden beneath the mud.
There have been many accounts given by locals and it was estimated by Frank Gregory in 1861 that it could’ve been there for over 200 years (dating it as being from the 1600s). In 1935, E H Withers of Rathmines wrote in to the Sunday Times to share what he saw:
When I was a lad about 19 years of age, in 1874, I saw at the mouth of the Vasse River (Busselton) the wreck of a vessel in a backwash on the north side, on what was called Reynolds Island. It was under water, but you could see the forepart of the deck and a fluke of an old-fashioned anchor. I was told at the time that it was an old Dutch boat, but no one that I knew could tell me how she got there.
While there are enough eyewitness accounts of The Deadwater shipwreck to suggest that it certainly did exist, it has, to this day, not been found.
In honour of Trove Tuesday, I leave with you one of the earliest accounts of the wreck printed in The Inquirer and Commercial News in 1856.
For more information please visit The Western Australian Museum’s shipwreck database:
Do you have additional information or stories about The Deadwater shipwreck? If you do, please do not hesitate to leave a comment. I’d love to read more!
- 1856 ‘Passe.’, The Inquirer and Commercial News (Perth, WA : 1855 – 1901), 2 April, p. 3, viewed 15 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66006844
- 1935 ‘THE GILT DRAGON.’, Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), 13 January, p. 12 Section: First Section, viewed 15 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article58748529
- Information about Frank Gregory obtained from the WA Museum’s shipwreck database (http://museum.wa.gov.au/maritime-archaeology-db/wrecks/id-1654).
3 thoughts on “Trove Tuesday – The Deadwater”
I heard this story when I was a kid. On our Busselton holidays we would fish the Wonnerup Inlet.
Thanks Neville! Do you remember anything particular about the story? Did they mention any objects found?
No sorry. Just seemed to be common local knowledge that there had been a shipwreck there. This was late 50s early 60s.
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