This is one of two obelisks built in 1869 to guide vessels through hazardous reefs into the anchorage at Port Irwin (Port Denison). The tender of Richard Sparkes was accepted, the price being 45 pounds for two obelisks. Western Australia State Heritage Register Place No. 01242.

Nationality: Australian

Vessel type: 18 ton wooden cutter

Date lost: 23 June 1868

Cause of loss: Wild weather

Number of Casualties: 7, including owner

Discovery date: 24 June 1868

Location/water depth: Mouth of Irwin River, Port Irwin

The owner of the Albatross, ship’s carpenter William Garrard, Convict number 6306, arrived in WA in 1862 convicted of receiving stolen goods. On receiving his ticket of leave, he commenced building boats in Geraldton. The cutter Albatross was one of three vessels built from the African, wrecked on the reef that now bears its name.

The Albatross was lauded as’ a vessel of considerable strength, as all her ribs are double the size and strength of ordinary vessels her size’. But the strength and size of the vessel did not help the cutter as she left Port Irwin on the night of 23 June 1868.

A heavy sea struck, the boat capsized, carrying away the mast and everything on deck. Eight on board, including Garrard, were thrown into the sea and drowned.

No trace of the vessel has been found. The only reminder of that night is a lane, Albatross Lane, Port Denison.

The Society has installed a series of brass plaques to create a ‘Shipwreck Walk’ in Port Denison, which includes the Albatross.

Cool fact

A seadog will tell you the fate of vessels built from others is doomed…

Ticket of leave

Objects of interest (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the shipwreck story.

  • Pictures of church pews built from timber
  • Newspaper and Occurrence Book, reports of the wreck

AMMC Member Institution

Irwin District Historical Society

submitted by Anne Jeffreys and Graham Grundy

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