Aus Update 17 - Carnarvon

03-Oct-2006

<Paula> 2nd October 2006 - We left Minilya mid morning and headed south.  Before reaching Carnarvon we turned off onto Blowhole Rd. 50kms later we arrived at this most amazing Blowhole.  It was huge.  Although the coastline  looked small from the carpark it was actually very large, and what looked like a few gentle rock edges were large and cliff like.  Here are some photos of the blowhole and shoreline.

Just down the road from here we found some fairly permanent shacks (or baches in NZ terms), and a quiet beach area.

We then continued past the blowhole to the HMAS Sydney II Cairn.  A little bit of background for those who don't know anything about this ship that was the pride of the Australian Navy.  It was sunk by a German Raider named HSK Kormora, aound dusk on the the 19th November 1941. The German Raider was actually a Merchant ship converted into a Battleship and camouflaged to look like a Dutch Merchant Ship.  Not much is known of the battle that took place because there were no survivors of the Sydney. What is known as fact is that both ships sunk Although it is thought that the Germans scuttled theirs.  Neither ship has been found.  It is not clear where the battle took place.  The only accounts of what happened are what the German officers were reluctant to say, which the Australian authorities are unsure if it is the whole story, or even the correct story.  Then starts the theories.  One of the known facts is that 319 Germans survived, two lifeboats made there way to shore just north of Carnarvon.  One lifeboat stayed at the site of the battle and the floating wreckage with no water. (Odd?) The theory that goes with this is that they were ordered to stay and shoot any survivors of the  Sydney.  Which frankly I find quite sickening.

This is Australias worst maritime disaster.  One of the things mentioned is how it affected Australians at the time.  The 645 crew came from every state of Australia, everyone in the country knew someone, or knew someone who knew someone on the ship.  The other mystery of this disaster is that there were no survivors, all officers and crew died.  They have not found either ship and until they do no more answers will be known, even if they do find the wreck they will only know some of the answers.

This sign at the turnoff to the Cairn was donated by Able Seaman Harold Adams, who served on the HMAS Sydney continuously from Dec 1939 to two days prior to it leaving for it's last voyage.  They hold a rememberance service at this site every year. Unfortunately due to my absence of mind I don't have a photo of the actual Cairn, but these are the plaques on the cairn.

As you drive into town from the south they have also dedicated an HMAS Sydney Memorial Avenue.  It appears that they haven't completed it yet.  They are putting palms in for each plaque, all 645.  They have the irrigation system in but not all the palms yet. This is the avenue taken from Geoff Rosevear's plaque (the one in the foreground).

The following photos are the plaques dedicated to Geoff and Lance Rosevear.

Carnarvon also has a wall erected at the cenotaph to remember the crew.


Cenotaph from the front, the wall is wrapped around the back.

The wall.

We went for a tour around town also and saw some interesting things. Firstly in the historical precinct of town they have one of the lifeboats from the German boat and heaps of newspaper clippings about the HMAS Sydney, as well as a video talking with the author of a book called 'Bitter Victory'.  It is meant to be the most accurate information to date about the incident. Here are some photos from the area.


Lighthouse keepers house in use till 1980.

Lifeboat from the HSK Kormoran. Behind it is the newpaper clipings for the HMAS Sydney including an honor roll of the crew.

Water tower lookout, the train depot at One Mile Jetty

One Mile Jetty.  This was the communities link to the world in times gone by. It is so long because of the mangrove area and to get depth for the large ships that would come into port. It is 1493m in length. We worked out that would be just over a 100m short of a mile, but who's counting.

One other thing in Carnarvon that caught our attention was the dish. Opened in 1966. It is 29.6m in diameter. It was here that Australia received its first satellite television broadcast. Carnarvon participated in the race to put a man on the moon. It also assisted in tracking Halley's Comet  and closed in 1987.  Now it just sits here.

That is about it for Carnarvon.  We leave for Shark Bay tomorrow.