Discovering the Schah
The Schah has the distinction of being one of the oldest shipwrecks on the Victorian coast – sinking in 1837. Here John Black describes the history of the ship and how he discovered the site location using the wind and current.
NARRATOR: The schooner Schah is the second oldest identified wreck on the Victorian coast. Becalmed near Ram Head in December 1837, it was forced ashore by the current and high seas. John Black is intrigued by this wreck, during his time in Mallacoota he located the Schah by wind and current and by the discovery of an achor.
JOHN BLACK: When I was leaving Sydney, one of the chaps what worked for us was a bit of an old boating person and I told him I was coming to Mallacoota and he reads books, and he said “I’ve got an old book at home that does mention Mallacoota in it”. I said I’d be interested to have a look at it especially as it’s on wrecks. It was one of Rhodes books and I was told it was printed in about 1937 and it did mention in the back two particular wrecks, one was called the Schah.
They said it was probably one of the oldest wrecks on the east Gippsland coast; it was an ex-slaver; it was captured over in Trabizon(?) and went to the - they had a court set up of various countries and they decided what they would do with the captain and the ship should they get caught, they were trying to cut slavery out in those days, and it was a slaver that found its way to Australia.
It was plying its trade from Tasmania to Sydney, that they got it caught in a strong southerly gale and it hit the mainland and the part that interested me said that some of the people or the crew got off and then they realized they weren’t on the mainland, they were on an island, and they re-boarded the ship which eventually broke free. It then dropped an anchor and they said it was quite calm where they were, but during the night the wind sprung up and they were eventually wrecked on the mainland.
NARRATOR: To find out more about Victorian shipwrecks search the Victorian Heritage Database at http://heritage.vic.gov.au