Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site
Home · Contact Me · Sydney Reef Dive Sites · Sydney Shipwrecks · NSW Dive Sites · Australian Dive Sites · Overseas Dive Sites · Dive Accidents and Incidents · My Yachting Adventures · 4WD Trips · Weather · Search 20 July 2024 08:09

About Me
My Diving
Web Links - Dive Clubs
St George Scuba Club
Some of my Best Photos
Contact Me

Dive Sites
Sydney Reef Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwrecks
Sydney Dive Visibility, Swell and Temps
Kelly Talking on ABC Sydney about Shipwrecks
NSW Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwreck Summary
NSW Shipwreck GPS/Marks
Australian Dive Sites
Overseas Dive Sites
Aircraft I have Dived
Old Bottles
Free Shipwreck Books

Dive Related Equipment
Shearwater Predator and Heinrichs Weikamp OSTC 2N
Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers
Apollo AV1 Underwater Scooter
Bauer Compressor
DIY Oxygen Stick - Nitrox
GoPro HD Hero Video Camera
My Camera Setup
Purchase of New Dive Boat
My Dive Boat - Mak Cat
My Old Dive Boat - Le Scat
My Dive Gear
GPS and Diving
Make Your Own Car Tank Rack

Marine Life
Rarer Sydney Marine Life
Bare Island Pygmy Pipe Horses
Bare Island Sea Horses
Bare Island Nudibranchs
Bare Island Marine Life
Encounter with Southern Right Whale and Calf

Other Dive Info
How Weather Affects Diving in Sydney
Visibility and Wave Averages in Sydney
Waves and Diving
Diving Weather and Sea Conditions
Tide Tables
Dive Accidents and Incidents
Dive Book Reviews
Site Map
Noel Hitchins 1951-2005
Lloyd Bridges - Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt
My Yachting Adventures
Below is a list of links to the main pages about my yacht, Catlypso and My Yachting Adventures:
  • Purchase of Catlypso
  • Details about Catlypso
  • Cleaning/Repairing Catlypso
  • My Yachting Adventures.
  • Login


    Forgotten your password?
    Request a new one here.
    Michael's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of my Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
    Home Brewing
    Click here for an article about Home Brewing.
    Sydney Dive Site Hints
    "Bare Island Isolated Reefs have sea dragons, red indianfish and sea horses"
    Shipwrecks, Storms and Seamen of the NSW Coast by Max Gleeson
    Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Shipwrecks, Storms and Seamen of the NSW Coast As I reached the 40 metre mark, the enormous outline of the wreck came into view. This was perhaps the best introduction anyone could possible be given to this famous NSW shipwreck. The water visibility was at least 30 metres and from the middle of the wreck it was possible to see from one end to the other. This was one of the most exciting wreck dives I had ever done. It was the SS Catterthun. The Catterthun is just one of the 11 shipwrecks that Sydney diver, Max Gleeson, has written about in his latest book, Shipwrecks, Storms & Seamen of the New South Wales Coast and the memory of this shipwreck came back into my mind as I read Max's latest tome.

    Back in mid-1993 Max Gleeson released his second book, The Vanished Fleet of the Sydney Coastline. At the time I wrote about the book in glowing terms for DIVE Log. At the 1996 Sydney Scuba Expo, Max released his most recent book. The ships Max has covered in Shipwrecks, Storms & Seamen sank off the NSW coast over the period 1866 to 1928. The wrecks’ locations range from the Keilawarra, which sank off the Solitary Islands near Coffs Harbour, to the Bega which sank, well, near Bega on the South Coast. In size, the largest is the SS Satara at Seal Rocks (near the Catterthun) to the tiny TSS Wandra near Jervis Bay.

    The majority of the wrecks in the book occurred in the section of coast from Newcastle to Forster (six wrecks), showing the importance of shipping to industry in Newcastle. Only one Sydney wreck is included, but it is probably the least known of the many shipwrecks in and around Australia’s largest city (the majority of the rest were covered in The Vanished Fleet). However, more about that wreck later.

    The history, sinking and part salvage of the Catterthun is covered in 44 detailed pages. With a loss of life of 77, 55 or 31 lives (Max found three reported figures), the Catterthun is certainly a tragic wreck which continues to remind divers of what happened that fatal night in 1895. Using contemporary newspaper articles, inquest reports and other sources, Max has reconstructed the events leading up to the sinking of the ship, the actual sinking, the rescue of the 26 survivors and the partial salvage of the cargo of gold. The salvage of the gold is particularly good reading. The salvage work was, at the time, the deepest salvage ever carried out in the world. The divers, Briggs and May, worked in very arduous conditions but bought up at least 7,900 of the sovereigns (possibly 775 coins remain on the wreck, but recent salvage efforts turned up nought). The work of the two divers is both heroic and at the same time crazy. They did up to four dives a day (to 60 metres) for periods of up to 29 minutes at a time (including ascent and descent) and with a surface interval of as little as 50 minutes. No wonder the divers at the time complained of symptoms very similar to the bends.

    The one Sydney wreck in the book is the Oakland, Macleay and Thordis. Because of the great detail Max has included about each ship, including interlinked events, the sinking of many other ships are also mentioned, some in quite detail.

    The design of the book is almost identical to The Vanished Fleet and is a classy publication, with quality paper, printing and, more importantly, excellent writing. The simple and easy to follow text makes reading the stories of the ships, their crews and their wrecking extremely interesting. There is no "jargon" used and where a technical matter is discussed, it is explained for all to understand. However, the book is poorly proof read and there is probably at least one typographical or grammatical error each page. A book must be proof read by someone other than the author. (Note that after a particularly testy phone call from Max about the above sentence, I rechecked the book, concentrating on one chapter chosen at random. This review in fact showed more like three to five errors per page.)

    As in my previous review, I can certainly recommend Shipwrecks, Storms & Seamen of the New South Wales Coast for not only divers, but for all persons interested in maritime heritage and the sea. Even persons from outside NSW will find the stories of the ships and their wrecking fascinating. Do yourself a favour, get a copy today.

    Shipwrecks, Storms & Seamen of the New South Wales Coast by Max Gleeson, 1996, First Edition, published by Max Gleeson (ISBN 0 646 28019 8). Softcover, 168 pages, 17 full colour and dozens of black and white photographs. Available for $25 (postage paid) from Max Gleeson at 51 Northcote Avenue, Caringbah, NSW, 2229 (phone 61 2 9524 8077). Copies of The Vanished Fleet of the Sydney Coastline are also available for $20 postage paid from the same address.

    Reviewed by Michael McFadyen

    Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2024
    Non-commercial use of an article or photograph is permitted with appropriate URL reference to this site.
    Dive shops, dive operators, publications and government departments cannot use anything without first seeking and receiving approval from Michael McFadyen.
    This web site has been wholly thought up, designed, constructed and funded for almost 30 years by Michael McFadyen without any help from the Australian Dive Industry.
    Website created 1996!