Wreck of the "Sovereign"Print Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Robert Scard

The monument commemorates the bravery of the six Aboriginal men who saved 10 of passengers from the ship "Sovereign" which was wrecked near Moreton Island in 1847.

In March 1847, the "Sovereign" (a passenger and cargo ship) set off from Moreton Bay during rough weather. As the ship navigated the route near the south end of Moreton Island, it struck the bar and capsized. Of the 54 crew and passengers on board, only ten survived. They owed their lives to the efforts of a group of Aboriginal men from Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) who put their own lives at risk in extremely dangerous conditions to swim out to the wreck and pull the survivors back to shore.

The government of the colony specially made a number of engraved brass plates (also known as king plates, gorgets and breast plates) to present to the Aboriginal rescuers to recognise their efforts. Three plates are known to have survived - one being kept in the Queensland Museum and two held by the Royal Historical Society of Queensland. Recipients of the plates included, Poonipun, Toompani and Woondu. Other recipients included Nuahju (aka Billy Cassim), Noggun and Juckle Juckle however the whereabouts of their plates are unknown.


Address:Ballow Street, Cabarita Park , Amity Point, 4183
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.397467
Long: 153.438801
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:11-March-1847
Actual Event End Date:11-March-1847


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 10th March, 2002
Front Inscription

The wreck of the Sovereign

11 March 1847

 The paddle steamer Sovereign left Brisbane on 3 March 1847 on one of its regular voyages to Sydney. On board were 54 passengers and crew and a cargo consisting mainly of wool bales.

Bad weather forced the vessel to wait off Amity Point for a week. Finally, the Sovereign set off on the morning of 11 March but shortly after it was wrecked on the South Passage bar about a mile and a half off shore.

 A group of Aboriginal men went to the rescue at great risk to themselves and saved 10 of the people on board the Sovereign.

These brave men were from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) and Moorgumpin (Moreton Island).

Their heroic actions were recognised by the Government, which gave them breast plates with the following inscription:

"To -, of Amity Point, Rewarded by the Government for the assistance he afforded with several of his countrymen to the survivors of the wreck of the steamer Sovereign, by rescuing them from the surf upon Moreton Island, on the 11th March, 1847, upon which melancholy occasion 46 persons were drowned, and by the aid of the natives, 10 were saved."

 Six of the rescuers have been identified as: Toompani Nu-Ah-Ju, Poonipun Nuggun, Woondu Juckle Juckle. The breast plates of Toompani and Woondu are held by the Royal Historical Society of Queensland and the Poonipun plate is in the Queensland Museum. The whereabouts of the plates of Nu-Ah-Ju, Juckle Juckle and Nuggun are unknown.

We wish to acknowledge the kind deeds of these brave men who risked their lives to save the survivors of the wreck of the Sovereign on 11 March 1847. Their heroism will live forever in our hearts.

On behalf of their descendants, from Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders.

10 March 2002.

Source: ACPH,MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au