Looking Back: Eden mystery deepens with strange ship's arrival

Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless files on people and places. This one is about a Mystery at Twofold Bay in 1853. 

SAILS ON HORIZON: A sailing ship coming in to harbour. An unusual encounter is noted by a young writer in 1853 near Boydtown.

SAILS ON HORIZON: A sailing ship coming in to harbour. An unusual encounter is noted by a young writer in 1853 near Boydtown.

THE youthful author is strolling southward along the coast three miles from Eden and describes the scene.

From the thickly timbered gullies in the cliffs came the note of the bellbirds and of other birds less musical. I had picked up some (to me) strange seaweed, shells, and cuttlefish bones, and, placing them in my handkerchief, wondered if I ever should present them to the loved ones at home, and what my future life might be.

I had now got as far as the Nullargy saltwater creek, and could see Boydtown in the distance. As there was a long stretch of sandy beach to pass before I could arrive there I sat down under the shade of a ti-tree. I had not then learned to use what has since been my comfort, my pipe. Melancholy thoughts came over me. I sobbed as if my heart would break. After a good cry I felt better, but determined to go no further. A refreshing breeze had sprung up. Far out at sea I could distinguish the white sails of a ship, and watching her for some time I fell asleep.

I awoke with a start. The ship I had seen was now about one mile distant, making straight for the beach. Suddenly she hove to, a boat was lowered, and some men got in and pulled for the creek. The ship appeared to be about 500 tons. She had a foreign flag flying. Soon the boat was beached, and five men jumped out of her. Four were common sailors, clothed in red shirts, long sea boots and blue caps. The fifth, who appeared to be in command, had a red sash broad-brimmed hat.  All were very swarthy, with heavy moustaches. They conversed in a foreign tongue. I think it was Spanish.

One of the sailors commenced digging a hole in the sand. Only a few minutes were necessary to complete his work, and then from the boat the captain, he of the red sash, lifted a long, narrow box or case and deposited it in the hole, the sailor with a spade throwing sand over it.

All five men now lighted cigars and conversing volubly in their foreign tongue, returned to the boat, shoved her into deep water and, pulling for the ship, were quickly on board. The ship, steering south, was soon out of sight.


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