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Holbourn Island @ Bowen Sunrise

Coral Seas Bermuda Triangle

 

WORTH A READ :--)) an item by Daniel Bateman from the Townsville Bulletin with their permission

 

DANIEL BATEMAN

 

June 6th, 2009

 

THE sinking of the Yongala, the disappearance of the Kaz II crew – is an island off the coast of Bowen to blame for these and many more of the North's maritime mysteries?

 

Holbourne Island is a popular fishing spot, about 35km off Bowen.

 

It could almost be known as the `Bermuda Triangle' of North Queensland.

 

The island was named by Captain James Cook after a naval officer who commanded the North American fleet in 1757.

 

It consists mostly of granite and is surrounded by coral reef. It was dedicated as a national park in 1982.

 

From the late 19th century to the present day, the island has been implicated in a series of unfortunate maritime incidents, including some very famous shipwrecks.

 

The SS Gothenburg, a steamship that operated along Australia's coastline, left Darwin in February 1875 on its way to Adelaide. About 100 crew members were killed when it strayed into a cyclone and became wrecked on reef northwest of Holbourne Island.

 

Twenty-two of the crew survived the disaster, and managed to reach the island where they were rescued several days later.

 

There was nothing particularly mysterious about that disaster, but the really strange stuff started when the SS Yongala went missing, 36 years later.

 

The Yongala left Mackay on March 23, 1911 at 1.30pm but never reached port in Townsville.

 

It steamed into a cyclone and sank without a trace. However, the cause of the sinking remains a mystery.

 

All 122 passengers and crew on board perished. The wreck was not discovered until 1958, about 48 nautical miles southeast of Townsville, and it has since become one of the world's best dive sites.

 

However, in 1923, 12 years after the Yongala vanished, a group of fishers from Bowen were angling off Holbourne in a small boat, near the main shipping channel the Yongala would have used.

 

Much to their surprise, a large steam ship appeared from the south. The fishermen recognised her instantly. It was the Yongala, and the anglers watched – mouths agape – as the vessel steamed off behind the island, failing to appear on the other side.

 

Then there's the strange case of Kaz II, the North's own modern-day Mary Celeste.

 

The 10.6m catamaran was discovered empty and drifting off Townsville on April 18, 2007.

 

The three men on board the Western Australia-bound yacht – Des Batten, 56, neighbour Peter Tunstead, 69, and his brother Jim, 63 – were officially declared dead following a week-long coronial inquest in Townsville last August.

 

State Coroner Michael Barnes came to the conclusion the men fell into the sea while attempting to rescue each other.

 

When Kaz II's GPS log was recovered, the investigators found the computer had overridden entries of the first day, due to a limited memory.

 

The first entry on the log? None other than Holbourne Island.

 

Fast forward to January 21, 2008, when the fishing boat Allena was sailing off

Bowen.

 

About 9pm, the radar mysteriously stopped working. Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators were told the Allena's skipper attempted to turn it off and on several times, but it failed to restart.

 

The unit was left switched off, and the boat was left to rely on its skipper as a lookout, who unfortunately became distracted by tallying up the evening's catch.

 

An hour later, merchant ship Northern Fortune swiped the Allena, pulverising its bow in the process.

 

Fortunately, the small boat was able to limp home to Bowen harbour, safely depositing all five crew members.

 

The location of the incident? Southeast of Holbourne Island.

 

Townsville Maritime Museum curator Vivianne Moran said the island's association with so many maritime incidents was

spooky.

 

"It's like the Bermuda Triangle," Ms Moran said.

 

"Ships come to that spot, or that general location, and things happen. Holbourne Island would be the only witness."

 

She said the island was a reminder of just how much mystery there was out at sea.

 

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Taken on September 4, 2009