|Wreck of the ship Sir Robert Peel |
The steamer Thistle reported, on her arrival from the Hunter on Tuesday night, having passed a large vessel ashore about two miles to the northward of Cape Three Points, near Broken Bay. Her mainmast was gone, also the fore and mizen topmasts. She was high and dry on a sandy beach - stem on. The Thistle stood as near the shore as possible, but could have no communication owing to the surf. Several men and women, amongst which were some soldiers, were plainly discerned on the beach encamped in tents.
This, intelligence was of course communicated to the Portmaster, who received instructions from the Governor to take any steps that might be necessary to bring the people to Sydney. In consequence of this authority, the Thistle was chartered to proceed to the wreck, the price agreed upon, being £100. She left the wharf early on Wednesday morning, having on board Captain Moriarty, Mr. Boyd. Captain Browne of the Water Police, and two pilots (Messrs. Moffitt and Bainbridge,) also four whaleboats with their crews. The fog was so thick in the harbour that they were compelled to anchor, but they eventually cleared the Heads about eight o'clock, and having a fair wind, reached the wreck about half-past ten.
The surf was running very high, and constantly breaking over the quarter of the ship, which prevented them from reading the name on the stern, although the steamer stood in close to the rollers, and it was the general opinion of those en board that it was the wreck of the Lord Auckland. Finding it unsafe to anchor there, Captain Mulhall then steered for a small inlet called Terragal Bay, about three miles to the northward, where they brought-to, and having lowered the whaleboats, after having pulled a cireuitous route, at length the different parties got inside the surf and landed in safety. Having walked over the headland they arrived at the wreck, where they found all hands actively engaged in landing the stores, &c., and that the name of the vessel was the Sir Robert Peel, from Auckland the 9th instant : passengers Captain Smyly of the 99th. Dr. Clifford of the Medical Staff, twenty men of the 58th. One corporal, one sergeant, six men of the 22nd, one woman and child, and thirty-six soldiers of the 99th regiment ; this fine vessel has now only been four months from London, during which she has been at Hobart Town, landed troops, proceeded to Auckland. and was
returning to Sydney when the unfortunate accident occurred. The commander, Captain Champion, stated that they had very thick weather during three days, which prevented him from taking any observations, and thinking himself in the latitude of Sydney, and fifty miles from the land, he stood in under double-reefed topsails, to make the light-house. On
Sunday last, at half-past 11 p.m., breakers were descried under the lee bow, also high land on each side within a very short distance, which prevented them from tacking. There was a heavy set from the eastward, and no land being visible a-head, sail was clapped on to send her as high as possible on the beach, which providentially proved a sandy one. All hands remained on board till morning with the sea breaking over them, and ignorant of their position, but when day dawned they found that the ship was nearly on dry land, which enabled every one on board to reach the shore without accident.
When she struck, fearful that she would careen over, orders were given to cut away the mainmast, and the fore and mizen topmasts being struck, kept her in an upright position. She had on board seventy tons of Government stores, which are being landed quite safe, and the sails, gear, &e., will also be recovered, but the hull is fast breaking up, as the surf breaks over her quarter at high water. There were only three soldiers, a pensioner, and a woman brought up in the Thistle, the others remaining to assist in landing and watching the cargo. The Thistle, finding she could render no assistance, returned to Sydney, where she arrived about eight o'clock on Wednesday night. The stores are to be conveyed to Brisbane Water, and a small steamer will be sent to bring them and the passengers and sailors up
We subjoin an extract from Captain Champion's letter to Messrs. Gilchrist and Alexander, the agents for the vessel :
"With feelings of deep regret I have to inform you the ship Sir Robert Peel is on shore, and likely to become a total wreck, at a place called Avoca Bay, as I am informed by a shepherd distant from Sydney Heals about fifty miles north. We have had the weather exceedingly stormy and thick fogs, and when the ship struck by our reckoning we were fifty miles from land and in the latitude of Sydney, so that in two days we have had a current setting to the north upwards of sixty mile's."
The Rose did not arrive from Morpeth, until one p.m. on Thursday. The Tamar having conveyed the intelligence of the Sir Robert Peel being on shore, Captain Pattison put into Broken Bay, and despatched the chief officer to the Customs Station, when Mr. Williams and his boats' crew accompanied them overland to the wreck, a distance of about eight miles. Nothing more had occurred than what had already been reported. and having found that the Thistle had been there they returned, finding that no assistance was required.
The steamer Kangaroo was despatched by the Government yesterday to the wreck of the Sir Robert Peel, having on board a military guard. She will most probably put into Brisbane Water, and remain there until the stores and military are ready to come on to Sydney.
SG & SGTL ; Vol 4 ; Page 23-4 ; 23 Jan 1847.
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