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May 18, 2022

Relics from some of Tweed’s 47 shipwrecks on display

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A model of the Tyalgum, a ship that ran ashore on Duranbah Beach in 1939.
A model of the Tyalgum, a ship that ran ashore on Duranbah Beach in 1939.

A new exhibition at Murwillumbah’s Tweed Regional Museum reveals  treacherous tales of Tweed’s maritime past, including historic voyages that went wrong.

WRECKED! is one of the museum’s summer displays and features relics dating back to 1890, as well as intricate models of some of the 47 ships known to have been lost in or near Tweed Heads.

Tweed Regional Museum director Judy Kean said artefacts from the Alberta, the Fido and the Dellie, ships that were all wrecked in Tweed waters, were on display.

‘The Alberta was the largest vessel lost at Tweed Heads, running aground on the Sutherland Reef south of Fingal Lighthouse on 19 October 1890 on a voyage from Japan to Melbourne,’ Ms Kean said.

‘The second largest shipwreck, the Fido, ran onto a reef at night near Cook Island in July 1907 while the captain was having dinner.

‘My favourite story is of the Dellie, which ran ashore on Fingal Beach just north of the lighthouse in 1941,’ she said.

‘Its cargo of 5,000 cases of apples, which were being transported along with chocolate and newspapers, washed ashore and were eagerly collected by locals.’

The story of the Dellie was the subject of a recent ‘Tweed Tales Tall and True’ dramatization by radio station Gold FM. To read or listen, visit museum.tweed.nsw.gov.au/TweedTales/TheDellie.

Ms Kean said the Tweed River was used to open up the valley to European settlement and industry after it was surveyed by Captain Henry Rous in 1828.

‘From the arrival of those seeking cedar in the 1840s until the last passenger steamer made its way between Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads in 1934, the Tweed was almost entirely reliant on shipping to move goods and people,’ she said.

‘Nowadays, it’s possible to overlook just how important coastal and river transport was to the Tweed. The ships, their cargo and their passengers really were at the mercy of the weather and dangerous conditions.’

Ms Kean said the Tweed’s maritime history was well-documented in the collection, thanks to the passion of past volunteers.

‘The collection includes models of the Tyalgum, a steamer that ran ashore on Duranbah Beach in 1939, and the Terranora, wrecked on the Tweed River bar in February 1933,’ she said.

The models are on display alongside three others with a connection to the Tweed.

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