Commander John Thomas GowllandPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Heather Stevens

The plaque commemorates Commander Gowlland who drowned at Dobroyd whilst carrying out a survey of Middle Harbour.

Born of a Kent naval family, an admired graduate of the Royal Naval College Greenwich and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Gowlland distinguished himself in the Crimean War. He also took part in a trail-blazing survey of the Pacific coasts of North and South America and eventually commanded a naval survey of the coastline of Her Majesty’s colonies in Australia. In 1874, while surveying near Dobroyd Head on Sydney’s Northern Beaches Peninsula, an unexpected wave across a submerged reef - or ‘bomborra’ - hit Gowlland’s small boat amidships, capsizing it. While several crew on board swam to safety, Gowlland and another sailor, Henry Petersen, drowned.

In 1963, Manly Council installed a cairn and plaque at Arabanoo Lookout - overlooking the scene of the tragedy - commemorating Gowlland’s brilliant career and untimely death. Unfortunately vandals destroyed the original cairn. A new plaque was unveiled as part of a Centenary Federations Program.


Address:Dobroyd Scenic Drive, Arabanoo Lookout, Balgowlah Heights, 2093
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.807856
Long: 151.269016
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:14-August-1874
Actual Event End Date:14-August-1874


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:August-1963
Front Inscription

Dedicated to the memory of staff commander
John Thomas E. Gowlland. R.N. who was accidentally
drowned at Dobroyd whilst carrying out the survey of
Middle Harbour 14th August 1874.  Aged 38 years.

"Hail Gowlland, man of Kent, our Navy`s pride.
To famous mariners, by birth allied.
Thou, who deep versed in geometric art,
Provid`st the seaman with his priceless chart.
Wherein are seen inscribed in black and white.
The rocks and soundings of each bay and bight"

            Erected by
The Manly Warringah and Pittwater Historical Society
           August 1963

Capt. C. W. T. Henderson  President.
Chas. E. McDonald J.P.     Hon Secretary.

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