Date of Event: 1894
Vessel type: Steel Barque
Location/water depth: Stradbroke Island
Suggested title: Whiskey, dynamite and an island broken in two!
Stradbroke Island was originally one long island stretching from Amity Point to Southport. A shipwreck and a cargo of explosives resulted in the island splitting into two in 1898. Four years earlier, howling winds and heavy seas had driven the Cambus Wallace ashore onto a narrow isthmus near Jumpinpin.
Wild seas broke upon the hull, and tons of cargo were washed ashore. Help was found at the Currigee Oyster Camp. Oyster men, Aboriginal and white, were soon at the wreck and sent for help from Brisbane. The oystermen found the ship’s cargo of whiskey and rum and quickly buried it. The rest of the cargo, mainly unstable wet explosives, was piled up and detonated.
Four years later, following severe storms, the sea surged through the narrow isthmus into southern Moreton Bay and Stradbroke Island became two islands: North Stradbroke Island and South Stradbroke Island.
For some time after the wreck, hotels at nearby Southport experienced a severe downturn in trade. This has been attributed to the fact that so many of their customers now had their own – illicit - supplies of whiskey and rum.
Memorial at Jumpinpin, Stradbroke Island to the five sailors who drowned when the Cambus Wallace was wrecked in 1894. The graves were washed away when the sea broke through in 1898. Photo Courtesy State Library of Queensland
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North Stradbroke Island Museum on Minjerribah
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