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Discovery at Port Fairy and Warrnambool Dunes

Extract of a letter by Captain John Mason to Joseph Archibald, September 1890.

‘Riding along the beach from Port Fairy to Warrnambool in the summer of 1846, my attention was attracted to the hull of a vessel embedded high and dry in the hummocks, far above the reach of the tide. It appears to have been that of a vessel of about 100 tons burden, and from its bleached and weather-beaten appearance must have been there for many years….’

An ancient wreck high and dry among the sand hummocks on a remote beach between Port Fairy and Warrnambool. She was first discovered by ship wrecked sealers in 1836 and between then and 1880 was sighted about 40 times. The local Aboriginals of the Gunditjmara tribe  said that its presence went as far back as their dreamtime.


The Mahogany Ship, painted by Thomas Clark c. 1860 from a description; the actual topography around Sandfly Rise looks different. Clark was the first drawing master at the Melbourne National Gallery School from 1870 to 1876.