Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Auntie Clair

If you have ever been to the Pa Bendall Contest or checked the surf at Moffatt's in the last 40 years, good chances are that you will have seen Aunty Clair who lives on the beach there. If you see her this weekend on her morning walk, wish her happy birthday and ask her about the time her father competed against The Duke when he came out to Australia in 1915. She might even tell you about the Queen of the Colonies memorial up on Moffatt Headland.
As kids we would wander the Moffatt's headland tidal pools and try and climb the Moffatt's cliffs and talk about the sailing ship that got wrecked there bringing migrants out from Ireland, England and Scotland. Years later, while waiting for sets out the back of this deep, fickle spot I would look down at the inky black shelf and wonder where the shipwreck actually was and how come you couldn't see any ship bits like you could at Byron. Even when the water is clear it looks dark down there. 
Painting by Don Braben
Turns out the actual 1300 tonne clipper ship was never there. A group of castaways from the ship were rescued from the area after surviving for 14 days on shellfish and berries. They became stranded during a storm after coming ashore on Moreton Island to bury a female passenger who had died in childbirth during the 3 month trip from England.
And in a neat twist, Auntie Clair's grandmother was born on the same ship during an earlier voyage!

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