This book is a comprehensive catalogue of research material on the wreck of the ship Earl of Charlemont which ran onto a reef below the Barwon Heads Bluff in 1853. Not only does the book tell the story of the shipwreck, it also provides complete passenger lists, cargo manifests and specifications of the ship. The author also sets the record straight that the property at Connewarre, ‘Charlemont’ was not named after the ship.
Research material for the book has taken almost five years to gather with much of it relating to the passengers’ lives and how the wreck changed them forever. Of the 372 assisted immigrants and 37 crew members who sailed from Liverpool aboard the ship,
404 managed to scramble ashore at Barwon Heads. During the voyage a young lad was washed overboard, three children and one adult died during the three-month voyage and one passenger died on board the ship soon after the grounding.
In the course of research Mr Latter also uncovered a mystery passenger, Louis Bourcoud. The intriguing story tells of Bourcaud giving detailed evidence’ at the inquiry after the wreck, yet a cross check of the passenger list revealed that Bourcaud was not listed. The author offers various theories as to why, but none could be substantiated.
The book is illustrated throughout with reproductions of actual documents and photographs of relics collected from the wreck by divers over the years. The author himself a scuba diver and member of the Barwon Grove Skindivers Club, has dived on the wreck many times. He was also a member of the team of divers that raised the 2-tonne anchor from the Earl o f Charlemont in 1972.
In another intriguing twist to the story is the link to the Earl of Charlemont wreck with the great gold escort robbery at Mia Mia in July 1853 and the subsequent disappearance of the ship Madagascar. The ship is believed to have been carrying the stolen gold and a member of the gang that masterminded the heist. After rounding Cape Horn the treasure laden ship is said to have met her doom on Stewart Island, but some theories suggest the treasure and the crew may have arrived in Brazil.
The book is available direct from the author Brian Latter on 5250 3825.
-Wreck of the Earl of Charlemont
By Brian Latter