Here is a story of a shipwreck that is all but a tease.
The Illawarra Steam Navigation Company was a shipping company that serviced the south coast of New South Wales, Australia from 1858 to the early 1950s. It was formed through the amalgamation of the General Steam Navigation Company, the Kiama Steam Navigation Company and the Shoalhaven Steam Navigation Company, each of whom serviced parts of the south coast with their respective vessels.
After merging, the new company held a near monopoly in regard to shipping on the south coast, and their fleet visited every significant port between Sydney and the border of Victoria. The company transported both passengers and a range of produce, including livestock, and hence it become known as the 'Pig and Whistle Line': it was said that ships would wait an hour for a pig but not a minute for a passenger.
One of their vessels "Bega" keeled over and sank in mysterious circumstances on the 5th of April 1908, several kilometers of Tanja beach with loss of one elderly man who suffered a heart attack.
For 96 years the shipwreck lay forgotten by the passage of time in its watery grave. However few people knew that the Bega was actually a treasure ship. On that fateful day of the loss the ship was carrying 561 ounces in gold sovereigns dispatched by the commonwealth bank and safety stored away in the patented chub safe of the ships strongroom.
For years local trawler men had some times had their nets damaged by the remains of the vessel. However the exact location was still undetermined until 2004 when team of deep water divers from Sydney rediscovered the wreck 77 meters deep on the sea floor. The team is not 100% sure they were the first to dive on this vessel.
However after a series of deep water dives they were able identify the vessel by the discovery of porcelain with the company name prior to the merger that identified it with the shipping company. That and resaerch on type of vessel and twin propeller shaft and other factor clearly helped identify the vessel.
Somewhere in the collapsed stern of the vessel lay the saloon and strong room with the remains of the safe and the gold. The ship as she sank spilled content along the sea floor and bottles and cups and places can be found partial buried on hard gravel and sandy sea floor.
However it will appear as all shipwrecks are now claimed by the Australian Government to lie in situ never to be excavated and left to rot for eternity under the historic shipwrecks act of 1976. And the gold left buried in the rusting remains of the hulk.
Today the estimated valve of the coin could be worth at least 1.25 million. sacrificed to become a marine archeologists playground at the cost of my tax payers money.
Or has it?
You are not allowed to view links.
Please Register or Login
There are 9 attachment(s) in this post which you can not view or download
Please register for viewing them.
SS BEGA STEAMSHIP.jpg
bega missing gold shipwreck sydney morning hearld wed 8 april 1908.jpg