The Search for Stefano, Austro-Hungarian barque wrecked off Point Cloates, 27 October 1875
Author/s I. Warne
Year of publication 1994
Report Number: 79
Introduction - Ian Warne
The search for wreckage of the Stefano began with my interest in the Ningaloo area. I had been returning to the area frequently since my first visit in 1987 with a WA Museum expedition on the American trader Rapid, sunk at Point Cloates 1811.
I had been researching all shipwrecks in the area of Point Cloates and was most interested in the 'wrecks on the beach', as reported by Capt Walcott on his voyage to the area in search for any further survivors of the Stefano. This chart was first brought to my notice by Peter and Jill Worsley who wrote to the British Admiralty and received this Walcott Chart along with others.
The Stefano kept cropping up at an important part of the early history of this area and I was continually on the lookout for further infonnation. A chance meeting in my local printer, I met Carlo Stransky, who was writing an opera based on the story of the Stefano survivors. He suggested I contact Monte Sala, whom he knew was interested in the history.
On contacting Monte, he was enthusiastic about my interest and suggested lunch, at which he told me of all his research and the literal translation from the Italian manuscript of the survivors' account.
Monte mentioned that he was most interested in following in the footsteps of the survivors, and finding any evidence of the wreck.
At a second lunch with Mike McCarthy and Monte Sala, he generously offered to sponsor an expedition to first: search for any wreckage in the water, and later to embark on a re enactment of the survivors' trek.
The proposal was for a group from MAA WA to undertake a two-week expedition supported with a boat and technician from the Museum.
The primary aim would be to search around Black Rock where the ship is believed to have wrecked, and the beach area where the survivors and wreckage came ashore. Monte Sala would fund a grant of $2000 prior and $500 on completion of the report for this initial survey. A further $2500 would be available for subsequent land based 'Survivors' Trek' expeditions.
At a lunch in Fremantle (again generously hosted by Monte Sala), the day of my departure for Pt Cloates, Monte, Mike and self were joined by Pat Baker, the Museum person assigned to accompany us. Decisions were made on dates and rendezvous to launch boat at Coral Bay and dlive truck to campsite and crew for boat.
Later, Colin Powell of the W A Museum, agreed to come up to assist in the boat launching and tnlck dliving.