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Cambus Wallace - Gustav Kindmark

In the early morning of the 3rd September 1894, the barque Cambus Wallace ran aground in the heavy seas near the narrow stretch of Stradbroke Island called Tuleen. Some of the crew managed to swim to shore, but five men drowned. The hatches of the wrecked ship broke open as the tide rose and tons of cargo washed overboard. The vessel was carrying whiskey, beer and cases of explosives as well as all kinds of imported fine goods. The cargo was consigned to Thomas Brown and Websters, general merchants in Brisbane. Assistance came from Southport residents and families living at one of Stradbroke Island's oyster camps. The Currigee oyster camp was a settlement of people who worked for the Moreton Bay Oyster Company. It was located a few kilometres north of Southport and could be easily reached from there by row-boat.

A shipwrecked sailor

Hanlon wrote, "One night when I was fishing from the old pier, the groom from the Pacific Hotel accosted me (right in the middle of a most promising bite) with the request that I hurry to the hostelry. "There's a dago bloke and no one can understand him", he volunteered. Thinking it was something of very trivial nature, or possibly a silly 'joke', I was noticeably displeased to be interrupted, just at the best of the tide for big game. The Cambus Wallace was carrying whiskey, beer and explosives, so both Custom officers and the Police from Brisbane travelled by steamer through the waterways of Moreton Bay to Tuleen. They came to inspect and report on the wreck, help survivors and make sure that the cargo was not stolen. After taking care of the survivors, the rescue party buried the dead on a hill between two pandanus trees. The aboriginal word for pandanus was Jumpinpin and the place would later be known by this name."

Gustav Kindmark and William Hanlon: Many years after the wreck, people told stories of their experiences during the disaster. Some people documented what survivors told to them at the time. In the 1890s, William Hanlon lived at the Pacific Hotel at Southport and story-telling and fishing were some of his favourite past-times. Around the 1940s, he wrote about a conversation he had with one of the survivors of the wreck - a Swedish sailor named Gustav Kindmark. I testily answered, "How in the blazes do you know that I'd understand him?" "Well they reckoned you knew blackfellow talk and thought you might give it a go". This was so flatteringly conclusive that I wound up my line and lit out for the hotel. The "Dago bloke" looked to me to be of Teutonic nationality and I addressed him in my brand of German. "Sind sie einer Deutscher?" (Are you German). He replied, "Nein, ich bin Schwedisch, aber Ich verstege ein wenig Deutsch." (No I'm Swedish, but I understand a little German). With the ice thus broken, I plied him with my alleged German and elicited the following facts that he was Swede and a sailor on the sailing ship Cambus Wallace. As far as he knew, he was the only survivor of the crew of ships officers.

Kindmark's story: They had run into bad and incessantly wet weather off the Tasmanian Coast and had not got a glimpse of the sun since then. "We were not able to locate our position and none of the sailing crew had any idea of our whereabouts. The weather was still very rough when sometime in the pitch darkness of the night we were jolted out of our bunks by the ship striking the bottom. A rush was made for the deck and some of us clambered up the rigging out of the way of the breakers that were tumbling inboard."

Overboard

"I, with others, was washed overboard and the darkness was so intense that I could not discern land and did not know in which direction to swim. I am a good swimmer and experienced in the rough waters of the Baltic, but I was afraid I might be heading for the open ocean instead of the breakers. When the breakers passed over me, I came up in a smother of froth and foam, higher than my head and shoulders and I could hardly snatch a breath. After a long time battling for life, I felt my feet touch bottom and a few succeeding waves carried me to shallower water where I could just manage to keep on my feet. At last with the light of day, I saw the beach was not far away and upon reaching it, I staggered to beyond the high tide mark and threw myself down on the sand. I lay there until the sun began to gleam over the ocean. When full daylight came I decided to 'get a move on' but hesitated, wondering which direction I should take to strike civilisation, whether to follow the beach north or south. I cast my eyes along the beach to the south and noticed a small object moving in my direction. It was a man on horseback."

Rescue

"When he came up to me, neither of us could say much to one another on account of our different languages, but he got off his horse and made me understand that I was to ride it. I learnt afterwards he was out early hunting for strayed horses. Seeing the wreck in the distance he came along to investigate. He took me to the oyster camp at Currigee and after feeding me, I was put to bed and slept till dark. Then I was brought over here (Pacific Hotel, Southport)."

Extracted from Hanlon, W.E. (1940). Reminiscences of Mr W.E. Hanlon: early days of Nerang Heads, and Southport's Infancy, unpublished manuscript. Copy held by the Local Studies Library, City of Gold Coast.

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