NORFOLK ISLAND & LORD HOWE ISLAND SHIPWRECKS      Enter here to bring up frames page with book codes if not already loaded.

Norfolk Island was discovered and named by Captain James Cook in 1774, and settled in 1778 when Lt. P.G. King arrived to establish a small convict settlement. The penal settlement was abandoned in 1814, only to be revived in 1825, this time as one of the harshest and cruelest penal settlements of its time. History has done a turn about, and today Norfolk Island is one of the most peaceful and beautiful islands in the Pacific. In 1856 settlers arrived from overcrowded Pitcairn Island, descendants from the mutinous crew of the Bounty. Norfolk Island is nearly one and a  half thousand kilometres from Brisbane. The island is only 8 kilometres long by 5 kilometres wide. Two smaller islands, Nepean and Phillip, lies just to the south. The township caters well for vistors and residents alike, and there are two jetties, and one jet airport serving the island, but no effective shelter for visiting vessels. An administrator governs the island, appointed by the Governor-General of Australia. The Norfolk Island Council acts on matters relating to finance, industry and economics. Of the six vessels listed, the most significant of those lost on Norfolk is the Sirius, 540 tons, the principal warship of the First Fleet, wrecked March 1790. All the other vessels have been small sailing vessels under 100 tons.

Lord Howe Island is the southern-most coral reef of the western Pacific, and truly one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Lying approximately seven hundred kilometres north-east of Sydney, the island is roughly crescent shaped, eleven kilometres long and up to one and half kilometres wide. A lagoon six kilometres long is enclosed by a reef on the western side, offering some shelter to small vessels. Two peaks at the south-east end of the island Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird rise 864 and 763 metres respectively, commanding a magnificent view of the island. About twenty kilometres south-east of the island lies a tooth-like volcanic Pinnacle called Balls Pyramid, rising 552 metres. It was named after the discoverer of the island, Lt. Henry Lidgbird Ball, commander of HMT Supply, in 1788 during a voyage from PortJackson to Norfolk Island. Lord Howe Island was named after a British Admiral.

The island has a permanent population of  about 250 people, whose main industry is catering for the tourist trade. Constitutionally, the island is part of New South Wales. Eleven vessels are listed as having been lost on Lord Howe Island, with another dozen or so lost enroute. The largest vessel lost in the vicinity of Lord Howe Island was the iron barque Maelgwyn, 1276 tons, abandoned  'near' the island.  The largest vessel ashore is the French three-masted ship La Meurthe, 1597 tons, lost in 1907. The island trader, SS Ovalau, 1229 tons, was lost due to fire; the steamer Makamba, 1159 tons went aground but was salvaged and towed back to Sydney. The steamer Jacques del Mar, 506 tons, was not so fortunate, and ended her days at the entrance to North Passage.

Loney [LI] is the main reference, with Bateson [AS1] providing additional information. Byron [BNN] adds useful information on the state of the current wrecks.
[33 records]


Agnes Napier. Wooden schooner,  35 tons. #32455. Built NSW 1851; reg Sydney 183/1853. L 49.5 ft.  Lost at or near Lord Howe Island,  1856.  [SAN]

Aurifera. Wooden barque 436/387 tons. Built Sunderland, UK, 1853; reg. Melbourne. Out of newcastle, abandoned 400 km from Lord Howe Island after springing a leak, July 1870. The crew of fourteen reached safety. [LN],[LI],[SAN - barquentine],[LAH]

Awahou. Steamer 437 tons. Built 1912. Owned by Carr Shipping and Trading Co. Disappeared between Sydney and Lord Howe Island, September 1952. An extensive search failed to find any trace of her. [LN],[LAH]

Batchelor’s Wife. American pleasure yacht. Wrecked on Lord Howe Island. Date not recorded. [LI]

Bitten. Cutter, 40 tons. Left Sydney for Noumea with a cargo of timber, then called at Norfolk Island to load cattle for New Caledonia; lost her cable and went into the breakers, 20 July 1868. [LI]

Caroline. Barque. Captain Tregurth. Visited Lord Howe Island on a whaling voyage. The treasure of the brig George, lost on the island in 1831, is mentioned in the log of the Caroline. [LI]

Despatch. (Dispatch). Wooden barque, 362 tons. Built Portsmouth, Great Britain, 1812; reg. London. Captain Pritchard. From Sydney to London with wool, abandoned after catching fire when about 150 miles from Lord Howe Island, 8 March 1839. One boat was picked up by the whaler Governor Burke and taken on to Sydney, while a search commenced for a second boat containing 21 seamen. They were picked up by the whaler Woodlark; apparently they reached Lord Howe Island, then set out for the mainland, but were never seen again. [LN][LI],[LAH - name Dispatch],[SAN - barquentine, lost 11 March]

Diahot. French schooner. Ashore, wrecked, when her anchor parted, Norfolk Island. No date recorded. [LI]

Faveurite. Schooner. Lost at Lord Howe Island. Date not recorded. [LI]
Also listed:
Favourite. Launch. Lost at Lord Howe Island. Date not recorded. [LI]
Favourite. Lost 1956, still visible on the reef just north of North Passage, Lord Howe Island. [BNN]

Friendship. Wood, two-mast schooner, 89 tons. Built at Pilton, Devon, UK, 1824; reg. Sydney 8/1835. Lbd 58 x 19 x 10.3 ft. Captain John Harrison. On a voyage from Sydney to Tahiti, called at Norfolk island to land stores; wrecked ashore when her recently laid mooring chains parted in a gale, 17 July 1835. All saved. [LI],[LN],[AS1]
A schooner of this name was reported lost in Twofold Bay, 1835, but no official record of the wreck has been traced.

George. Whaling brig, 185 tons. Built Great Britain, 1810; reg. Hobart, 6/1830? Length 78.4 ft.Captain Rattenbury. Ashore off  the southern extremity of Lord Howe Island, after striking a rock, December 1830. No loss of life. The government brig Mary Elizabeth and the barque Nelson returned the crew to Port Macquarie and Sydney respectively. Rumours that she carried £5000 in coin have led to several searches for a buried treasure on the island but it has never been found. [LN],[LI],[AS1],[LAH],[SAN],[BNN]
@ Wrecksite known.

Governor Burke. Whaler. Involved in rescue - see barque Despatch, 1839, Lord Howe Island. [LN],[LI]

Jacques del Mar. Steel screw steamer, 506 tons. #139627. Built Denmark, 1906; reg. Sydney, 6/1930. Length 145 ft. Lost in a gale at the entrance to North passage, Lord Howe island, 20 July 1954. [LI],[SAN],[LAH],[BNN]
@ Wrecksite known.

La Meurthe. Three-masted wooden full rig ship, ex French naval vessel. 1597 tons. Built France, 1882.  While being towed from New Caledonia to Sydney the broke away and went ashore on Lord Howe Island, 9 October 1907. Crew taken aboard SS St. Louis. All of her copper fittings were recovered before she was set on fire. [LN],[LI],[SAN]
@ Little remains on the wrecksite, scattered in three metres. [LAH]

Maelgwyn. Iron barque, 1276 tons. Built Great Britain. Lost her masts before a gale near Lord Howe island and was later abandoned when her ballast shifted, throwing her on her beam ends,  26 January 1907. The crew of 26 landed safely and were later taken on to Sydney. [LN],[SAN - barquentine],[LAH]

Makamba. Steel screw steamer, 1159 tons. Built Scotland, 1907; reg. Sydney, 121180. Length 210 ft. Struck a reef just off Soldiers Cap, Lord Howe Island, 14 June 1918; backed off and sailed to Neds Beach where she grounded. Tons of copra and produce was thrown overboard resulting in a raat plague on the island. A tug travelled from Sydney and towed the vessel back to that port for repairs. [BNN],[SAN - Makambo, vessel lost 15 June 1918]

Mary Elizabeth. Involved in rescue - see whaling brig George, Lord Howe Island, 1831. [LI]

Mary Ogilvie. Schooner, 68 tons. Was leaving Emily Bay, Norfolk Island when she drifted onto rocks and soon broke up, 23 June 1893. [LI]

Mary Hamilton. Whaler, wood, 218 tons. While on a twelve-month cruise, called in to Lord Howe Island to replenish supplies, when lost, 19 April 1873. She had struck a rock near Nepean Island, off Norfolk Island, and began to sink; run ashore near the jetty. Sold and dismantled before heavy seas split the hull in two. [LI],[LAH]
~ A bell from her is uised by the Norfolk Island school.

Mystery Star. Wooden launch. Length 16 ft. Lost from Lord Howe to NSW, October  1936.  [SAN]

Nelson. Whaler. Involved in rescue - see whaling brig George, Lord Howe Island, 1831. [LI]

Ovalau. Steel steamship, island trader, 1229/769 tons. Built Dumbarton, Scotland, 1891. Owned by Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. While anchored off the North Passage, Lord Howe Island, destroyed by a fire in her cargo of copra, 19 October 1903. [LN],[LI],[DG]
@ Divers located the wrecksite in 1979, lying in twenty metres. The seabed is littered with debris, including the engines and boiler. [LAH]

Pacific Chieftain. Island motor cruiser. Sank at Flat Rock, off Lord Howe Island, 1967. [BNN]
@ Wrecksite known in 30 metres but nothing left of the vessel.

S.M.Stetson. American barque. From Newcastle to San Francisaco with coal, sprang a leak about 800 miles out, and headed for Lord Howe island. Struck a reef when she tried to enter North Passage, sank, dismantled except for her hull and cargo, 10 March 1877.
[LN],[LI],[SAN - barquentine, lost 25 March 1877],[LAH - lost 24 March]

Saint Louis. Involved in rescue - see La Meurthe, Lord Howe Island, 1907. [LI]

Sirius. HMS. Principal warship of the First Fleet, a 20-gun ship of about 540-tons, built on the Thames in 1780 as the Berwick, and designed for trading in the East Indies She was burnt to the waterline, subsequently rebuilt, re-named and commissioned as a consort vessel for the convict fleet to New South Wales. The First Fleet sailed from England on 12 May 1787 with Captain Arthur Phillip aboard the Sirius as flagship. The fleet anchored in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. Under Captain John Hunter, left Port Jackson on 6 March 1790, and arrived at Norfolk Island a week later; forced on to rocks in a gale, wrecked, off Emily Bay.  All crew reached ashore. Most of the vessels cargo and gear was salvaged before she broke up in the breakers. The first ship to be wrecked in Australian waters after the arrival of the First Fleet was thus the very ship that led that fleet out from Britain in 1788. [LI],[#JH],[#ASW6],[AS1],[LAH],[DA]
@ The wrecksite is known, although virtually nothing remains. The site has been the subject of several archaeology surveys conducted by the WA Museum.
~ An anchor recovered from the weck was unveiled in a ceremony in Macquarie Place, Sydney, in 1907. Relics on Norfolk Island include an anchor and guns, displayed at Kingston.

Supply. HMS. Acompanied HMS Sirius to Norfolk island when the Sirius was lost, 1790. Returned to Sydney with thirty-three of the crew from Sirius. [JH]

Sylph. Ketch, coastal trader, 18 tons. #32395. Built NSW1849; reg. Sydney, 1/1850. Length 43 ft. Left Lord Howe Island for Sydney in April 1873 with a cargo of onions, eight passengers and crew, but was not seen again. [LN - built 1845],[SAN],[ASR]

Whangaroa. Schooner-rigged scow, 132 tons. #94270. Built New Zealand, 1893; reg. Sydney,46/1899. Length 120 ft. After leaking badly in a gale, the settled low in the water and was eventually abandoned off Lord Howe Island, 1911. [LN],[SAN - topsail schooner]

Wolf. Wooden barque, whaler. Captain Evans. Struck a rock off Lord Howe Island and sank about ten miles offshore, 8 August 1837. No loss of life. She had 1,700 barrels of sperm oil on board, all lost. The vessel had visited Lord Howe to obtain water, and was lost when strong currents threw her over a reef, and she capsized and sank within thirty minutes. Four weeks later the crew were taken aboard a passing ship and landed in Sydney.
[LN],[LI],[SAN - barquentine][AS1],[LAH],[BNN]
@ Wrecksite known.

Woodlark. Woden brig, 231 tons. #13888. Built Scotland, 1854; reg. Sydney, 30/1862. Length 104 ft. Forced ashore at Seal Rocks, NSW, 16 February 1868. No lives lost. [LN] A whaler of this name was involved in the rescue of crew from the barque Despatch, destroyed by fire off Lord Howe island, 1839. [LI]

Zero. (Zeno). Brigantine, 390 tons. Built Canada, 1876; reg. Auckland. Sprang a leak but managed to reach Lord Howe Island where she sank, 18 September 1895. Crew saved.  [LN][LI indicates name Zeno],[SAN - name Zeno, lost 6 September 1895]


Unidentified. 1846.  The master of the schooner Fanny Morris, Henry Hay, reported seeing a wreck of about 200 tons floating on her broadside somewhere between Lord Howe island and Norfolk Island, 30 April 1846. The wreck has never been identified. [AS1]

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