Polmaise Reef wrecks

Various—mostly British, one German

Vessel type: Schooner, brigs, barques and a barquentine

Date lost: 1866-1900

Cause of loss: Foundering on coral reef

Number of Casualties: Unknown

Discovery date (if applicable): Unknown

Location/water depth: Curtis Channel, Capricorn Bunker Reefs, QLD

A spur of coral reefs running westward from the Capricorn Bunker Group intrudes about halfway into the width of the Curtis Channel passing Gladstone. Numerous ships foundered here (but not Captain Cook in the Endeavour) during the period 1866-1900.


Polmaise reef does not have an island on it so it is very hard to see regardless of the tide. Masthead reef adjacent has an island on it. Ships have to keep clear of the mainland shore in case of a wind change. This increase the risk of hitting nearly Masthead and Polmaise reefs.


The challenge of navigating the Qld coast inside the Barrier Reef is made difficult by a spur of coral reefs impinging on the navigable water.

Shipwrecks: Polmaise and Masthead Reefs

  • Britons Queens- 21 March 1866, 2-masted schooner of 119 tons, 14 passengers and crew got to Rockhampton.
  • Pioneer- Details not available.
  • Cosmopolite- 15 October 1866. Brig of 145 tons.
  • James Paterson- Details not available.
  • Willing Lass- 4 July 1868, Barquentine of 107 tons.
  • Polmaise- 2 January 1873, Barque, crew rescued by another vessel.
  • Tambaroora- 22 July 1873, Steamship.
  • Italy- 16 November 1873, 286 tons.
  • Deutschland- 22 July 1883, German 3-masted barque of 833 tons.
  • Progress- 1900, Details not available.
  • Darcy Pratt- 21 January 1893, brig of 149 tons.
  • Water witch- 1884, Details not available.

AMMC Member Institution

Gladstone Maritime History Society Inc./Gladstone Maritime Museum

submitted by Noel Bowley

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