"Cataraqui" Print Page
A monument commemorates the wreck of the ship "Cataraqui" which sunk with a loss of 400 people, which is the largest loss of lives in a shipwreck in Australia. The Government commissioned Langlands and Co, ironfounders to prepare a metal tablet, with Gothic column on either side, bearing a suitable inscription, and this was erected near the scene of the wreck some time in 1846. It eventually rusted away, but was replaced by a stone cairn in 1956.
On 20 April 1845 the Cataraqui left Liverpool, England, with 367 passengers and a cargo of slate bound for Melbourne under a British government scheme to encourage immigration to the colony. The vessel was commanded by C. Finlay and carried a crew of 44.
By early August the Cataraqui was approaching Bass Strait and on the night of the 4th August the vessel struck rocks on the south-western coast of King Island. The Cataraqui began to immediately break up under the heavy seas, sweeping passengers and crew overboard. Less than an hour later the vessel tipped over to port and remained there despite attempts to cut away the masts. Despite the close proximity to land the surrounding reefs and high seas prevented most of those on board from reaching shore as the Cataraqui broke up.
By mid afternoon only nine of the 409 passengers and crew had reached safety; these were the chief mate Thomas Gutherie, seven seamen and a lone passenger Solomon Brown. The survivors were assisted by the `Straits Policeman` D. Howie, who was hunting on the island. It was not until six weeks later that they were finally taken onto Melbourne on the cutter Midge. Howie eventually buried over 340 bodies in a number of large graves and was subsequently rewarded by the colonial government for his efforts.
|Address:||Fitzmaurice Bay, King Island, 7256|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -40.028449|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Actual Event STart Date:||04-August-1845|
|Actual Event End Date:||04-August-1845|
|Approx. Monument Dedication Date:||1956|
In memory of the 399 people who died in the wreck of the emigrant ship "Cataraque" off this point on 4th August 1845.
Erected by the Municipality of King Island