Aboriginal people risk their lives to save the crew of the Rover

The Rover wreck exposed 1901


Vessel type: Schooner

Date lost: 13 October 1841

Cause of loss: Anchored in wrong area

Number of Casualties: 11 buried

Discovery date (if applicable): N/A

Location/water depth: N/A


Her canvas in rags the Rover struggled back to Broulee Bay in October 1841. Instead of mooring in the lee of Broulee Island she anchored in the exposed northern end of the bay, despite Captain Stevens and 6 Aboriginal people rowing out in a whale boat to warn them of the danger.

During the night the expected southerly blew up and the Rover went aground. On a black night the small local white population and 11 Aboriginal men from a nearby camp were aroused by 10 year old Joseph White who had been woken by a sailor who swam ashore. The Aboriginal men, four of whom were named - Hopping Joe, Warrigal Tom, Batemans Bay Harry and Boolbee dashed straight into the surf to help with the rescue.

They tried their best to rescue the 8 seamen, 3 soldiers and 11 convicts on board. They managed to save 10 souls.


Reward sought for brave Broulee Aboriginal men

Captain Oldrey a major property owner in the area and a local Magistrate sought an official reward for the Aboriginal people who risked their lives in the rescue but was met with a cold accountant’s rebuff.  He eventually supplied some brass breastplates at his own expense.


www.mdhs.org.au/pdfs/Ships and Shipwrecks/The_Rover.pdf



AMMC Member Institution

Moruya and District Historical Society Inc

submitted by Wendy Simes

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