TORRES STRAIT ISLANDS SHIPWRECKS                        Enter here to bring up frames page with book codes if not already loaded.

Torres Strait is that stretch of water between the northerntip of Australia, Cape York, and the Papua coastline west of the Fly River, separating the Arafura Sea to the west, the Gulf of Papua to the north-east and the Coral Sea to the east. The islands, reefs and cays within this region are politically part of the state government of Queensland, and extend into the Coral Sea up to the Great Barrier Reef, with Darnley and Murray Islands the most eastern. The largest island is Prince of Wales, with Endeavour Strait separating it from mainland Australia. Thursday Island is the most populated island, the administrative and commercial centre for the islands. Banks and Mulgrave Islands are also significant. Navigation through the Torres Strait is hazardous, with strong tidal currents and a five-metre tidal range on the eastern side. Most of the vessels lost in the strait are small sailing vessels of under 500 tons.

The most significant loss, and indeed the most tragic in terms of life lost, was that of the  steamship Quetta, 3481 tons, which struck an uncharted rock near Thursday Island in 1890 with the loss of 133 lives. The American ship Jihn de Costa, 1725 tons, wrecked five years earlier, and the 2485 ton barque Fenstanton, lost a year prior to that, fortunately claimed no lives.  The American ship Rosie Welt, 1436 tons, lost 1889, and the 1698 ton sailing ship Volga, lost 1890 are another two large vessels lost in the strait, with, apparently, no loss of life. It should be noted however that a number of shipwrecked seamen were murdered by natives, the loss of the schooner Speweer being notable. Unfortunately, there seems to be little recorded detailed on the loss of most of the vessels in Torres Strait. The largest vessel, to date, to have come close to being a total loss was the 58,000 ton oil tanker Oceanic Grandeur  which struck an uncharted rock 20 km from Thursday Island, 3 March 1970. Fortunately the oil was transfered to another tanker and she limped into port for repairs, but the threat of an ecological disaster always exists when large tankers use the strait from south-east Asia to eastern Australian ports. The listing includes vessels listed as having been 'lost off Cape York'.

Loney [LI],[LQ] provides the base for the listing in terms of quantity, however Holthouse [HH1],[HH2] provides greater detail for some of the more 'significant' vessels. Bateson [AS1] adds his comments also. Foley [JF] provides the definitive work on the loss of the Quetta.
[174 records]

Associated links:  QUEENSLAND    CORAL SEA

Agnes. Brig, 272 tons. Built at Leith, Scotland, 1828; reg. London. Captain Millons (also recorded as Mellon and Millions). Sailed from Sydney for Mautitius on 26 July 1832. Lost in Torres Strait, 16 August  1832. Crew apparently saved. [AS1],[LQ],[LI ]. Loney indicates lost 1833.

Alexandra. Barque, 306 tons. Built 1865. Caught fire when off Stevens Island in Torres Strait and was abandoned by her crew, 1878. She was bound for Siam with 81 horses. [LQ]

Aleyia. (Aleyai). American ship. Wrecked on the extreme end of North West Reef in the Prince of Wales Channel, Queensland, 1857.  [LQ],[HH2],[HH1]

Alice May. Trader. Lost on Thursday Island, 1907.  [LQ]

Aliquis. Ship. Captain Gill. From Port Jackson to Calcutta, lost near Mount Adolphus Island, Torres Strait, May 1839. No lives lost. Crew picked up by the ship Argyle, also bound Sydney to India.  [LI],[AS1]

Amelia. Lugger. Lost Torres Strait, February 1907. [LQ]

America. Ship. Lost in Torres Strait en route to Batavia, 31 October 1832. Crew saved. [LI]

America. Cutter. Wrecked on Entrance Island, Queensland, 1839. She was attempting to salvage whale oil from a vessel wrecked on Brampton Reef, probably the Madeira Packet, lost in 1831. [LQ],[LI indicates date 1839]
There are two Entrance islands in Queensland, one in Torres Strait, the other north of Rockhampton.

America. Cutter. Captain WilliamThompson. Ran on to a reef near Prince of Wales Island, 1844. A sixteen year old Scots girl, Barbara Thompson, recently married to the captain, was rescued by aborigines and lived with them until 16 October 1849, when she made contact with a water party from HMS Rattlesnake and taken aboard. She recovered fully from her deprivations, later married, and died in 1912, aged eighty-four.  [LQ],[#NH],[#HH2],[#HH1],[ASW1]

Anahuac. Ship, 1285 tons. Ran on to a reef off Dainlee Island, Torres Strait, 14 June 1891.  [LQ]

Analgista. Schooner,  19 tons. Built 1859. Lost on a reef near Hope Islands, Torres Strait, 27 July 1875.  [LQ]

Ann. Lost in Torres Strait, mid-1853. In company with Druid, also lost. Crews rescued by the brig Freak. [LQ]

Annie Cochrane. Schooner, 50 tons. Built 1875.  Sank after running on to M Reef, Torres Strait, late February or early March 1891. [LQ],[ASR]

Antagonist. Barque, 287 tons. Built in 1854. From Sydney to the Far East, driven on to a reef off Green Island, Torres Strit,Strait,  May 1863. See also Jeanie Deans, schooner, 1863, wrecked fortnight before Antagonist. [LQ],[LI]

Argyle. Ship. Involved in rescue - see ship Aliquis, lost Torres Strait, 1839. [AS1]

Assan Ceylon. Lugger, 13 tons. Lost on Dugong Island in Torres Strait, February 1931. [LQ]

Baddo. Schooner, 7 tons. Lost on Prince of Wales Island, Torres Strait, May 1880. [LQ]

Basilisk. HMS, paddlewheel steamer, 1031 tons. Captain John Moresby. Arrived at Somerset, Cape York, 16 February 1871, and made much comment of the attitude and skills of the pearling crews. Responsible for aprehending vessels where the captains has contravened the Pacific Islands’ Protection Act and had kidnapped or restrained native crew on board. On 24 January 1873, on a sandbank 50 km east of Jervis island, Torres Strait, but off at high tide. In 1872, involved in rescue - see brig Maria, wrecked on Bramble Reef, Queensland.  [HH2],[HH1]

Blanche. HMS. Arrived at somerset on the tip of Cape York in April 1870, where a large punitive expedition was organised to capture those reponsible for the deaths of all on the cutter Sperwer on Prince of Wales Island, Torres Strait. Thirty-five men from Mount Ernest Island were captured, their fate not recorded. [HH2]

Bourneuf. German ship, wood, 1419 tons. Built at Nova Scotia, 1852; reg. Liverpool. Captain Bibby. Left Hobsons Bay on 15 July 1853 to return to England via the Cape of Good Hope, only to be wrecked on a reef at the entrance to Torres Strait, 3 August 1853. While leaving the wreck, the captain’s wife and sister were drowned when a big sea struck their boat as it was being lowered and drove it under the ship’s counter. Shortly after, Captain Bibby and others were washed overboard and also lost. Altogether, eight persons perished. The thirty-one eventually picked up by the ship Everdina Elizabeth. [ASW6], [LQ - wrecked on the Great Detached Reef.]

Brighton. Ketch, wooden. Lost in Torres Strait, January 1911. [LQ]

Captain Cook. Schooner, 71 tons. Wrecked oin a gale on a reef in Torres Strait, 23 October 1878. Loss of three lives. [LQ]

Cathay. Barque, 244 tons. Built 1861. Struck an uncharted reef in Torres Strait on 19 July 1866.  The crew were in a boat for five days before meeting up with the schooner Melanie off Stevens Island and taken on to Somerset. [LQ]

Catherine Seymour. Pearler. An unconfirmed story suggests she was fishing about thirty kilometres north-east from Prince of Wales Island, March 1869, when natives boarded her, speared the master and twenty-two of the crew, then kidnapped the captain’s wife and her son as revenge for the abduction of some of their women by European sailors several months earlier. [LQ]

Ceres. Barque. Lost on Osprey Reef in Torres Strait while on a voyage from Sydney to Manila, 30 June 1849. [LQ]

Charles Auguste. French ship. Lost on Eastern Fields Reef in Torres Strait, April 1874. The captain and nine crew arrived at Port Albany after eight days, but a second boat containing the mate and eight others was not seen again.  [LQ]

Chesterfield. Whaler. In 1793, in company with Shah Hormuzier, called at Darnley Island (then known as Tate Island) in Torres Strait where an encounter with local natives saw the murder of Captain Hill of the Shah Hormuzier, and four sailors. Having drifted away from their ships, an epic journey in a ships boats saw several wounded men and Mr Shaw, mate of the whaler, sail toward Timor, landing on the island of Sarrett where the natives treated them well and they eventaully reached Batavia.

Clayton. Ketch, 15 tons. Lost on a reef off Port Kennedy in Torres Strait, 1 July 1914. [LQ]

Clifton. Ketch, 17 tons. Lost in Torres Strait, May 1920.  [LQ]

Comet. Brig. Captain James Fraser. From Sydney for Batavia on 12 April 1829, Lost in Torres Strait south of Boot Reef, May 1829. Captain Fraser was later to be wrecked in the Stirling Castle, 1836. [LQ],[LI],[AS1]

Countess of Seafield. Barque,  432 tons. Stranded, abandoned, on Bramble Cay, a reef at the eastern end of Torres Strait, 23 June 1870. Crew saved. [LQ],[LI]

Crown. Brig, 280 tons. Built 1863. Ran on to a reef near Darnley Island in Torres Strait, abandoned, 10 September 1871. Crew saved. [LQ]

Cupid. Lugger, 12 tons. Built Sydney 1881. Lost on a reef off Thursday Island, July 1889. [LQ],[ASR]

Curlew. Lugger. Foundered near Thursday Island, November 1893.  [LQ]

Dayspring. Brigantine, 159 tons. Built 1873. Wrecked, on North West Reef in Torres Strait, September 1896. [LQ],[LI indicates schooner, 106 tons, lost 16 October.]

Delfshaven. Barque, 656 tons. Newcastle to Java, struck a sunken reef near Booby Island, 24 July 1862. As she was undermanned, the boats were launched with difficulty after big seas had driven her over the rocks into calm water. Natives and adverse currents prevented them reaching safety on the Australian coast before one boat was abandoned and a course set for Timor. [LQ],[LI]

Diana. Schooner, 103 tons. Built Sydney 1847. Wrecked on a reef off the Bourke Islands in Torres Strait, June 1864. The fate of her crew was never discovered. [LQ]

Druid. Lost in Torres Strait, mid-1853. In company with vessel Ann, also lost. Crews rescued by the brig Freak. [LQ]

Echo. Whaler.  Captain Spence Lost on Wreck Reef in Torres Strait, 21 April 1820. The crew reached safety and then spent almost a month strengthening two boats recovered from the wreck before setting out for the Australian mainland. The boat commanded by the mate reached Port Jackson on 5th July while the other, in charge of the captian, was picked up by the ship Cumberland near Moreton Island. [LQ],[AS1]

Eileen. Ketch, 13 tons. Lost near Cape York, Queensland, December 1914. [LQ]

Eleanor. Brig, 253 tons. Built Ulverstone, UK, 1830; reg. London, transfered to Sydney 24 May 33/1842. Master Donald Stuart Macfarlane. Wrecked on Yule Island, in the Gulf of Papua, 25 May 1846. No casualties. She had left Sydney of a whaling trip on 15 February 1846. [ASW1]

Elisabeth. Barque, 562 tons. Struck Leher Reef while sailing through Torres Strait,
28 April 1892. Crew saved. [LQ]

Eliza. Ship. Captain Robert Murray. Left Sydney on 28 May 1815 for Batavia and Calcutta, wrecked in Torres Strait, 12 June 1815. Crew apparently left the ship in two boats.  [AS1],[LQ - brig, to Bengal]
In July 1814, involved in rescue - see ship Morning Star, lost Torres Strait. [AS1]

Elizabeth Brown. Vessel type unknown. Reported lost in Torres Strait, 1851. [LQ]

Ellsworth. American barque. Lost on Stevens (Stephens) Island, Torres Strait, 30 June 1880. The vessel was sold as is, but when the new owners arrived they found her burnt to the waters edge. [LQ],[LI]

Emma & Margaret. Cutter. Lost near Thursday Island, 1883. [LQ]

Equateur. Wooden barque, 308 ton. Lost on a reef in Torres Strait during a voyage from Sydney to Calcutta, August 1859. [LQ]

Fairlie. Schooner, 177 tons. Built 1865;  reg. Sydney. Lost at Dungeness Island in Torres Strait, January 1891. [LQ]

Fame. Convict ship, 464 tons. Built Quebec 1812.  Master Henry Dale. Arrived at Port Jackson with male prisoners from England in Match; a month later departed for Batavia and Bengal; lost in Torres Strait, May 1817. Apparently no loss of life. [LQ],[AS1]

Fantome. HM ship. Surveyed western approaches to Torres Strait in the ealry 1920s. [HH1]

Fenstanton. Barque, 2485 tons. Ran on to Moresby Rocks in Torres Strait, abandoned, 16 September 1884. No loss of life. [LQ]

Frances. Ketch, 15 tons. Lost at Thursday Island, 1942. [LQ]

Fuiujy Maru.  Japanese sampan, 37 tons. Sank off Cape York, Queensland, 3 April 1936. [LQ]

Gazelle. Brig, 154 tons. Built Bremen, Germany, 1839. Lbd 85.5 x 21.8 x 12 ft. Wrecked on Woodlark Island, September 1855. Natives murdered the crew as they attempted to lower the boats. [LQ]

Georgina Godfrey. Schooner, beche-de-mer vessel. Captain Godfrey. One of many beche-de-mer vessel which raided Torres Strait island villages for crew and women. Godfrey was also accussed of plundering wrecks and taking stores off Booby Island when not in need. In 1869, involved in rescue - see barque Tynemouth, wrecked on Great Detached Reef.  [HH2],[HH1]

Gertrude. Ketch, 12 tons. Wrecked on Wednesday Island in Torres Strait,  September 1911.  [LQ]

Gordon. Brig, 152 tons. Built 1859. Wrecked after striking a reef in Torres Strait, 26 July 1867. Crew set out for Cape York, and fell in with the barque Golden Age; taken on to Mauritius. [LQ]

Goshawk. Lugger, 10 tons. Built 1883; reg. Sydney. Wrecked Torres Straits, November, 1893. [ASR]

Governor Ready. Wooden ship, 512 tons. Built Prince Edward Island 1825. Captain John Young. Wreeked on a reef between Murray and Halfway Islands north-east of Cape York, May 1829. Nineteen in the longboat, twelve in a skiff and eight in the jolly boat escaped from the wreck and after touching at various uninhabited islands, were rescued by the brig Amity off Timor. They had travelled 2500 km in fourteen days. The Governor Ready had brought 200 convicts from England in 1828, and had sailed from Sydney for Batavia on 18 March 1829, when lost. [LQ],[HH2],[ASW1],[LAH]

Greenoch. Barge, 176 tons. Lost in Torres Strait, 1948. [LQ]

Guinevre. Ship, 1021 tons. Built Quebec 1870. Wrecked on Pocklington Reef near Torres Strait,  4 September 1874. Crew saved. [LQ]

Gwarra Peres. Ketch. Lost at Pelican Island in Torres Strait, 1899.  [LQ]

Haeremi Star. Unknown type. Caught fire and sank in Torres Strait, 21 March 1972.  [LQ]

Halcyon. American ship. Struck a reef near the entrance to Torres Strait, abandoned, 11 April 1858.  [LQ]

Henry. Convict ship, 386 tons. Built Quebec 1819. Captain James Ferrier. Brought female convicts to Hobart , then sailed from Sydney to Batavia; lost in Torres Strait, early April 1825. No loss of life.  [LQ],[AS1]

Hoktanga. Unknown type, 169 tons. Abandoned in the Gulf of Papua, 6 September 1971.  [LQ]

Honolula. Brig. Reported lost in Torres Strait, September 1870. [LQ]

Integrity. Brig, 220 tons. Lost in Torres Strait,  22 August 1841 while on a voyage from Sydney to Singapore. [LQ]

Janbaas. German barque. Wrecked on Bramble Cay in Torres Strait, 24 March 1889. [LQ]

Jemima. Brig, 179 tons. Wrecked on Hammond Reef, near Thursday Island, 1883. [LQ]

Jenny, 12 tons. Lost off Cape York, Quensland, in rough weather created by Cyclone Mahina, 1899. [LQ]

Jessie. Lugger. Lost on Howick Island, Torres Strait, 1 February 1889. [LQ]

John de Costa. American ship, 1752 tons. Built 1876. Wrecked in Torres Strait, 13 July, 1885. No loss of life. [LQ]

Johnny. Schooner, 6 tons. Lost in Torres Strait, Queensland, July 1883.  [LQ]

Jolly Joker. Yacht. Ashore east of Thursday Island, 3 September 1991. [LQ]

Joseph. Norwegian barque. Struck a reef near Entrance Island, Queensland, abandoned, 1890. Later refloated by a salvage party. While being taken to Thursday Island for further repairs, she went on to a reef off Hood Island and this time became a total wreck.  [LQ]

Julia Percy. Brig, beche-de-mer and pearling vessel .Captain William Banner. Established a beche- de-mer base in Torres Strait. In 1869, collected pearl shells from Warrior Reef, Torres Strait, and established a succesful fleet of pearling vessels, adding seven especially built luggers from Sydney. [HH2],[HH1]

Kanahooka. Iron steamship, 386 tons. Built 1883. Foundered in a heavy gale south of Booby Island, Queensland, 19 January 1894. She was overloaded with guano from Rocky Islet in the Gulf of Carpentaria; struck by heavy seas, she rolled over, giving the crew only a short time to launch boats and escape. [LQ],[LAH],[DG]

Kavite. Vessel of 10 tons. Lost off Cape York, Quensland, in rough weather created by Cyclone Mahina, 1899. [LQ]

Kavite. Lugger. Lost in Torres Strait, December 1903.  [LQ]

Kenilworth. German barque, 718 tons. Built 1866. Wrecked on a reef north-west from Bramble Cay in Torres Strait, July 1889. [LQ]

Kingfisher. Pearling lugger, 9 tons. Built Sydney 1882. Lost in Torres Strait, February 1891. [LQ],[ASR]

King Kow. Pearling lugger. Lost in  Strait, February 1891. [LQ]

Kingston. Schooner, 38 tons. Built 1858. Known to have operated in Victorian waters in the 1860s.  Wrecked in Torres Strait 1877.  [LPA],[LQ]

Lancashire Lass. Schooner. Owned by Queenland pioneer Frank Jardin. Whilst hacking a way through a coral reef, his native divers found a mass of silver coins, at boot reef, to the east of Murray Island. This led to speculation of the loss of a Spanish ship nearby.  [HH1]
Also listed:
Lancashire Lass. Schooner, 61 tons. Built Maryborough, 1869. Broken up Thursday Island, 1895. [ASR]

Leonardo. Barque, 321 tons. From Sydney to Reunion, wrecked seven miles north of Traves Island, Torres Strait, 1904. [LI]

Leyton. Ketch, 15 ton. Lost in Torres Strait, January 1914.           [LQ]

Lightning. Schooner. Supposed lost on Albany Island, Torres Strait, mid-January 1856. A popular theory claims that the crew of thirty-one landed near Newcastle Bay and were killed ‘by savages’; a few survivors were kept as slaves. When the schooner Robert & Betsy called briefly at Newcastle Bay, one of the captives managed to escape and reach her, while a few months later the ship Washington rescued five more.  [LQ]

Lloyds. Barque, 403 tons. Built London, 1830.  Captain G. Pearson. Bound from Sydney to Manila, was lost in Torres Strait, 26 August 1850. One crew member lost; others reached Sourabaya seventeen days later. [LQ],[AS1]

Look Out. Brigantine, 108 tons. Built Sydney, 1866. Operated in Victporian waters. Wrecked in Torres Strait 1895.  [LPA],[ASR]

Lord Auckland. Barque, 628/516 tons. Built Calcutta, 1836. Master Robert Brown. Sailed from Sydney to found a new settlement at Port Curtis, Queensland, but grounded on the flats at the entrance, 25 January 1847. She managed to get off three days later but was severly damaged. Several shipwrights left Sydney in the cutter George, and she was patched up sufficient to make it back to Sydney. Further repairs saw he fully operational again. On 21 April 1849, when bound from Hobart to India with horses, ran aground on Turtle island, south-west of Prince of Wales island, Torres Strait. The spring tide enabled her to get off and although damaged was able to resume her voyage. [AS1]

Loyalty. Pearl lugger. Wrecked on Home reef, Torres Strait, 1850s. [LI]

Luzon. Ketch, wooden. Lost near Thursday Island, August 1902. [LQ]

Majorie. Lugger, 11 tons. Wrecked at Thursday Island, December 1898. [LQ]

Marina. Barque. Lost in Torres Strait, from Sydney to Singapore, 28 May 1866. Crew landed on Booby Island and a ship took them on to Singapore. [LQ]

Martha. Lugger, 8 tons. Foundered near Thursday Island, 1899. [LQ]

Maryts. Ship. Lost in Torres Strait, 13 January 1842.  [LQ]

Masuliotte. Barque. Reported lost in Torres Strait, September 1870. [LQ]

Mecca. Steamship, 1450/937 tons. Built Glasgow, Scotland, 1873 for the British, India Steam Navigation Company. From Hong Kong to Sydney, ran on to Ippolite Reef near Thursday Island, Torres Strait,  24 December 1878. Her complement of 379 Chinese passengers and 38 crew were safely landed but the steamer was too badly damaged for salvage. At an inquiry the master claimed his vessel had struck the engines of the steamer Phoenix, wrecked on the reef about fourteen years earlier. [LQ],[DG]

Mersey. Ship, 350 tons. Built at Chittagong; reg. Fort William. Lost on in Torres Strait,  mid-June 1804. Master-owner James Wilson. The captain and twelve of the crew reached Timor in the longboat but fifty-six seamen lost their lives. [LQ],[AS1],[JM - lost November]

Minerva. Pearling lugger. Wrecked on Bett Reef near Thursday Island, 24 March 1960.  [LQ]

Miro. Steamer, wooden, 25 tons. Lost in Torres Strait, 13 April 1911. [LQ]

Mobil Endeavour. Tanker. Grounded in the Prince of Wales Channel, Queensland, and damaged its storage tanks, 1986. Repaired. [LQ]

Mona. Barque, 190 tons. Captain P. Sayers. From Sydney, passed through Endevour Strait, Great Barrier Reef in company with schooner deborah and barque Eagle, but grounded on a coral bank, 21 August 1846. She was refloated and arrived at Algoa Bay, South Africa, 17 October 1846. She left on 28 October, ran into a gale, returned, anchored, parted her cables and went aashore becoming a total wreck. [ASW1]

Morning Star. Brig or ship, 140 tons. Built and registered at Calcutta. Captain Robert Smart. From Sydney to Batavia and Bengal, probably lost in Torres Strait,  late  July 1814. Some survivors were rescued from Booby Island by the ship Eliza, while the master and nine others reached Timor in her long boat. Approximately twenty lives were lost. [AS1],[LQ],[LI]

Mukumanu. Schooner, 40 tons. Lost in Torres Strait, 1900. [LQ]

Nancia. Ketch, 15 tons. Lost on Thursday Island, 1949 [LQ]

Napoleon. Barque, 233 tons. Believed lost in Torres Strait, 1876. [LQ]

Narupai. Barge. Sank off Coconut Island in Torres Strait, 19 April 1991. [LQ]

Newton. Ketch, 15 ton. Foundered off Gabba Island in Torres Strait, December 1913. [LQ]

Norman. Swedish brigantine. Wrecked on Dungeness Reef, midway Cape York and New Guinea, 21 January 1886. No lives were lost. [LQ]

Normanby. Steamship, 956 tons. Built 1873. E. & A. Line. Struck an uncharted rock in Torres Strait, August 1877.  [DG]

North Wales, 15 tons. Lost off Cape York, Quensland, in rough weather created by Cyclone Mahina, 1899. [LQ]

Oceanic Grandeur. Oil tanker, 58,000 ton. Passed safely into Prince of Wales Channel, Queensland, but shortly after leaving Wednesday Island astern, struck an uncharted rock 20 km from Thursday Island, 3 March 1970. The tanker was immediately anchored but commenced to list to port. The tanker Leslie J. Thompson, en route to Dumai in ballast, approached the Oceanic Grandeur, and eventually her 55,000-tonne cargo of oil was transhipped and delivered to Brisbane in two trips. After temporary repairs, she made her way slowly to Singapore for repairs.  In 1978, the unchartered rock, then known as "OG" Rock, was reduced by explosives to give a clearance of 40 feet. The oil spill from the tanker was no more than a few tons but the detrgent ussed to disperse it killed large areas of pearl shell in Torres Strait.  [LQ],[HH1]

Osiris. Ketch, wooden. Lost in Torres Strait, October 1910.

Osprey. Vessel type unknown. Damaged at Mackay, during one of the worst cyclones in Queensland’s history, January 1918. [LQ]

Pacific. Schooner. Foundered off Booby Island, Queensland, 6 July 1935.  [LQ]

Parame. French barque, 533 tons. Built 1865. Wrecked on a bank near Woody Island, Queensland, 7 October 1873. Crew of sixteen saved. [LQ]
Could this be Woody Wallis Island off Cape York.

Pauline et Victoire. French barque. Wrecked off Mulgrave Island in Torres Strait, 27 September 1858. [LQ]

Petroi. Unknown type. Capsized and sank while on a voyage between Thursday Island and Yam Island in Torres Strait, 12 April 1991. [LQ]

Phoenix. Paddle steamer, wood, 240 tons. Built Greenock 1842. Lbd 143.9 x 21.6 x 15.7 ft.  To Singapore, wrecked on a reef off Ipili Rocks in the Prince of Wales Channel at the western approaches to Torres Strait, mid-July 1855. Passengers and crew taken off and landed at Batavia. [LQ],[HH2],[HH1]
Phoenix. Steamer. Wreckage reported as having caused the loss of the steamship Mecca, 1878, on Ippolite Reef, Torres Strait.  [LQ]

Pioneer. Lugger, 13 tons. Lost on Wednesday Island in Torres Strait, March 1888.  [LQ]
Also listed:
Pioneer. Lugger, 13 tons. Lost near Wednesday Island, Queensland, June 1884. [LQ]

Pioneer. Lugger. Wrecked on Wednesday Island in Torres Strait, 3 June 1889. [LQ]

Preston. Ketch. Lost in Torres Strait, January 1908. [LQ]

Queen Victoria. Two masted wooden schooner, 71 tons. Built at Dover, UK, 1806; reg. London 310/1839, transfered to Sydney on 24 March, 22/1842. Captain Willaim Brand. Lost in Torres Strait, October 1842. [LQ],[AS1]

Quetta. Steel steamship, 3481 tons. Built Dumbarton, Scotland, 1881. Lbd 380 x 40.3 x 29ft. Owned by the British, India Steam Navigation Company. Captain Alfred Sanders. From Brisbane to London, foundered when she struck a needle of uncharted coral rising from fifteen fathoms to within a few feet of the surface in Mount Adolphus Channel, Torres Strait, 28 February 1890. One hundred and thirty-three lives lost; 158 survivors but few of these were women and children; two young girls were only female survivors. Fifty-six of the total sixty-five steerage passengers were lost.The Quetta was on her way to Europe and had called at Queensland ports before steaming through the Strait in charge of a pilot. The seas were calm. Many had retired to bed when a sudden violent shock threw passengers and crew off their feet. A submerged rock had ripped through six water-tight compartments of the hull, from the bows to the engine room. Stokers were killed instantly as water rushed onto the boilers causing them to explode. Lower-deck portholes burst under the water pressure and the sea flooded in swamping passengers asleep in their bunks.  For half a minute the ship hung at a 45-degree angle, then she slid slowly beneath the surface. Within less than five minutes of striking the rock she was gone.
@ Location known and in spite of her dangerous location, has been dived with relics recovered. [LAH]

Red Gauntlet. Wooden steamer, 57 tons. Built on the Forth River, Tasmania, 1890.  Broken up on Thursday Island,  1902. [LPA]

Regent Bird. Schooner, 19 tons. Built 1882; reg. Sydney. Foundered, Torres Straits, February  1891. [ASR]

Regent Bird. Schooner, 19 tons.  Built 1881; reg. Sydney. Foundered in Torres Strait, February 1891. [LQ]

Restless. Schooner, 258 tons. Built 1862. Sprang a leak and abandoned at St. Christoval, Torres Strait, 24 July 1872. After returning kanakas employed in Queensland to their home islands, the schooner was attacked by natives when she called at the Banks Group in Torres Strait; five crew were wounded. Then while making repairs at St. Christoval the native crew deserted; another crew was formed but one man was killed when the vessel was struck by lightning. [LQ]

Root Hog or Die. Cutter, beche-de-mer vessel. The captain had arrived in Somerset, Cape York, around the 1870s, and insured his cargo of valuable pearl shell. At the time it was possible to insure a cargo at some ports (such as Somerset) with the cargo being inspected. Some distance down the coast, the vessel sank in deep water.  The crew were immediately rescued by a conveniently passing vessel. A claim was made on her loss, including the valuable cargo. Such maritime scams are called barratry. [HH2]

Rosa. Lugger, 8 tons. Lost off Cape York, Quensland, in rough weather created by Cyclone Mahina. [LQ]

Rosie Welt. American ship, 1436 tons. Lost near Bramble Cay, Torres Strait, September 1889.  [LQ]

Royal Stuart. Wooden ship, 723 ton. Wrecked on Capricorn Reef in Torres Strait, June 1864. [LQ]

Sana. Lugger. Lost in Torres Strait, 1890. [LQ]

Sedney. Lugger, 14 tons. Lost near Thursday Island, November 1927. [LQ]

Shamrock. Schooner. Involved in rescue of survivors from two ships, on Booby Island - see Hydrabad and Coringa Packet, 1845. [HH2]

Snowbird. Brigantine. Destroyed by fire in Torres Strait while she was carrying explosives to settlers at Norman River in the Gulf of Carpentaria, 1869. Crew of ten spent nine days in the boats before landing at Cardwell.  [LQ]

Speweer . (Sperwer) Schooner. Investigation by the Police Magistrate at Somerset uncovered the remains of twenty-eight bodies and the wreck of the schooner at Prince of Wales Island at the eastern end of Torres Strait. The captain and his son were among those found murdered but the rumour that the captain's wife was held captive in the strait was never confirmed, although a second search party returned with the story that she had died of her privations. [LQ]

Sperweer. (Sperwer). Schooner, beche-de-mer vessel. Captain Gasgoigne. Found on Prince of Wales island with the remains of twenty-eight people on board, all killed by natives, 1869. The captain and his young son were included in the kill. HMS Blanche arrived at Somerset, on the tip of Cape York, in April 1870, where a large punitive expedition was organised to capture those reponsible for the deaths. Thirty-five men from Mount Ernest Island were captured; three were executed by shooting, the remaining allowed to leave. [HH2],[LI]

Spitfire. Schooner, 46 tons. Reg. Brisbane. On a beche-de-mer expedition, lost her sails and listed badly in a gale before being abandoned near the Piper Island lightship in Torres Strait on 21 August 1898. [LQ]
In January 1882, brought back to Cooktown the bodies of Mrs Watson of Lizard Island, and her baby, for burial. Her recovered diary gives a chilling account of the trauma she suffered in escapting from aborigines on Lizard Island in an iron tank, where she made the mainland 50 km north of Lizard, only to die of thurst. [#HH2]

St. Michael. Lugger. Supposed lost near Round Top Island, Torres Strait, November 1892. [LQ]

St. Preve. French barque. Wrecked on Warrior Reef near Moon Passage, Torres Strait, 4 July 1881. [LI]

Star of Peace. Barque, 1114 tons. Built 1855; reg. Sydney. Broken up Thursday island, 1895. [ASR]

States. Ship. Believed lost in Torres Strait early in 1829. [LQ]

Sun. Brig, 185 tons.  Captain Jillett (Gillett).  Left Sydney for Batavia on 10 May 1826; struck Boot Reef, off Eastern Fields north-east of Thursday Island,  July 1826. The crew succeeded in launching the long and jolly boats but apparently the long boat, carrying two officers and twenty-two lascars, was lost on a reef. The captain, with one passenger and other crew members, made Murray Island, where they were rescued by the vessel John Munro three days later. The brig was reported to be caarrying a  large quantity of Spanish dollars. Crew rescued by the brig Industry, which also recued the crew of the brig Venus, lost Coral Sea. [LQ],[ASW1 - reports that only one crew member, an officer, drowned.]

Surprise. Vessel of 90 tons. Owned by the London Missionary Society. Established a mision on Darnley Island in Torres Strait. A report to the British Government against the activities of the pealing traders led to the Pacific Islander’s Protection Act (generally known as the Kidnapping Act) which provided that no Britsh vessel should engage in the native labour trade without a licence. [HH2],[HH1]

Swan. Cutter. Lost near Crab Island, Torres Strait, April 1895. Two crew drowned. [LQ]

Tam-O-Shanter. Lugger. Left Thursday Island for Warrior Island and not seen again, 1888.  Crew of one white man and several natives. Authorities believed she had fallen into the hands of Torres Strait cannibals.  [LQ]

Tasmania. Barque, 402 tons. Built Sunderland 1841. Wrecked whilst passing through the Prince of Wales Channel in Torres Strait, 1 July 1853.  Crew picked up by the ship Queen.  [LQ]

Thomas Lord. Two masted schooner, beache-de-mer vessel. Reg. Sydney 85/1845. Lbd 54.3 x 17.5 x 8.6 ft. Captain Seagrove. In June 1846, four of the crew were killed by islanders when off Badu Island near Cape York. It is reported that one of the attackers was a white man, called by his islander friends Wini, who had ruled over the islanders with terror for twenty years. It is reported that a punitive raid was led by pioneer Frank Jardine, ‘one of the most deadly marksman in the colony’. Whoever it might have been, the marksman stood off Wini’s canoes and steadily picked off his steersmen, and then Wini.  [HH1],[ASW1 - merchant vessel]

Thomasine. Barque, 333 tons. Built 1849.  Lost on Flora Reef, Queensland coast, 19 June 1837. One seaman was lost and the eighteen survivors which included the captain, his wife and three children, spent fourteen days in open boats before being picked up by the Dutch vessel Bato off Bird Island in Torres Strait after a voyage of 700 miles. [LQ]

Thule. American whaler. Captain Coffin. Wrecked on a shoal believed to be part of Bellona Reefs, Queensland waters, 10 October 1844. Three boats containing twenty-four men left the wreck however only two reached Moreton Bay with sixteen men. It is presumed the others were killed by aborigines. [LQ],[HH2 - wrecked on either Booby Reef or Minerva Shoals, 11 September 1844]

Tui Lau. Pearling schooner. Wrecked on Pipon Island in Torres Strait, 28 July 1876. [LQ]

Two Brothers, 16 tons. Lost off Cape York, Quensland, in rough weather created by Cyclone Mahina, 1899. [LQ]

Two Sisters. Barque, 401/339 tons. Built at Pictou, 1837; reg. Liverpool. Captain Ward. From Sydney for Moulmein, wrecked near Wednesday Island in Torres Strait after striking a sunken rock and sinking in a few minutes, July 1842. No lives lost.  [LQ],[AS1]

Tyne. Ketch, 9 tons. Lost at Prince of Wales Island in Torres Strait, August 1916.  [LQ]

Valient. Unknown type. Wrecked in Torres Strait while on a voyage from Sydney to Mauritius, 1857 [LQ]

Victoria. Barque, 358 tons. Lost in Torres Strait, 27 May 1853. [LQ]

Victory. Schooner. Foundered in Torres Strait, March 1888. [LQ]

Vida. Ketch, 17 tons. Foundered in Torres Strait between Naghire and Double Island,  29 May 1914. Four lives lost.  [LQ]

Volga. Ship, 1698 tons. Built Glasgow 1887. Struck Beresford Shoals near Double Island, Torres Strait, sank off the west end of North West Reef, 7 August 1890. [LQ]

Wai-weer. Schooner, 29 tons. Capsized in Torres Strait, June 1916. [LQ]

Warrnambool. Corvette, 950 tons displacement. Built Sydney 1941. While clearing a minefield off the Cape York Peninsula, struck a mine  and eventualy sank, 13 September 1947. Two of her crew killed; 26 injured. [LQ],[LAH - minesweeper, 650 tons]
Whyalla. Lugger. Lost near Thursday Island, Queensland, 6 April 1959. [LQ]

Watcher. H.M.A.S. Struck a reef near Harvey Rock light, Queensland, wrecked, 14 May 1945. She was at the time towing H.M.A.S.Stingray from Coconut Island to Thursday Island. [LQ]

William. Brig. Our of Sydney, with a reported destination of Hobart, lost in Torres Strait, 8 February 1830. It appears that her captain changed his mind and headed north.. [LQ],[AS1]

William Kirk. Wooden ship, 739 tons. Believed lost in Torres Strait, 1861. [LQ]

Windhover. Barque, 883 ton. Ashore, wrecked, on Bramble Cay, Torres Strait, 20 August 1889. [LQ]

Wongala. Auxiliary schooner, 452 tons. Grounded on Bett Reef near Thursday Island, abandoned,  22 July 1981.  [LQ]

Woodlark. Brig, beche-de-mer vessel. Captain Leary. Struck a reef in Torres Strait, east of Keppel Bay, 18 April 1828.  Left with 18 in the repaired jollyboat and six on a raft; after steering west by south for about thirty miles the heavy swell forced raft to be cast and it was not seen again. On 23 April the boat made the Northumberland Islands where some food and water was found. They reached Moreton Bay on 14 May. The Woodlark was a notorious vessel, with captain and crew raiding islander villages when women were required. Her reputation is such that the islanders took revenge when the opportunity occasioned, and several crew were killed in one ambush. However, a punitive expedition was organised, and the Murray Islanders were attacked; men, women and children were killed and villages destroyed.  [LQ],[#HH2],[HH1],[AS1]

Xarifa. Lugger, 11 tons. Lost off Cape York, Quensland, in rough weather created by Cyclone Mahina, 1899. [LQ]

Yatton. Ketch, 17 tons. Lost near Thursday Island, 1949. [LQ]

Young Dick. Wooden barque, blackbirder, 162 tons. Built 1869. Returning kanakas to their home islands, when off the coast of New Guinea disappeared in heavy weather, August 1886. She was carrying a complement estimated to be 170. [LQ],[LAH]


Unidentified. 1844. An unknown ship lay stranded on Hemelin Boulders, north of Thursday Island, 1844. Some of the crew were massacred by natives. With the sole survivor on board, the ship floated free but stranded again to the west of Mount Ernest Island, where he was killed and the ship looted. [AS1],[LQ - ashore again about fifty miles north of Cape York],[LI]

To beginning of this page.
Link to TORRES STRAIT  main site. This will load the frame-based main site with book codes and regional links.
Return to Encyclopedia of Australian Shipwrecks home page.