Off Beacon Island
Hadda was built in Germany in 1860, and in 1877 was owned by William Johnston of Newcastle, New South Wales. It was under charter to the Melbourne firm of Poole, Picken and Company who were involved in the guano industry. The barque, under the command of Captain John Lewis Parker, with a crew of eleven, was en route from the Lacepede Islands in ballast. Parker was making for Fremantle in order to obtain the correct licence papers from the Commissioner of Crown Lands in Perth to enable him to load guano.
The Hadda was heading south-east by south when, despite setting a course that should have taken it through the Geelvink Channel and well clear of the islands, it struck the reef close to Beacon Island at 10 p.m. on the night of 30 April 1877. According to the captain the vessel had been difficult to steer in the following north-westerly winds and seas. Immediately after it struck, the vessel began to take in water. Sail was lowered and the boats took anchors out in an attempt to kedge the barque off the reef. As it had run right up onto the reef this proved futile. The crew remained aboard the Hadda until 7 May when, with the water up to the vessel’s lower deck beams, they abandoned it and sailed with a favourable wind for Geraldton. They arrived there the following day, suffering from exhaustion and exposure.
A court of inquiry was held on 11 May in Geraldton before Resident Magistrate George Eliot, Charles Crowther, JP and Captain Andrews of the steamship Rob Roy acting as nautical assessor. The hearing exonerated Captain Parker, as it found that the Hadda was wrecked due to being set off course by a strong westerly current. Although the Houtman Abrolhos were well charted by this time, there was still little known regarding the currents in the vicinity.
The wreck of the Hadda was auctioned at Geraldton on 10 May 1877 and was bought by Captain Parker for £150. Also sold at the auction were the two ship’s boats, the larger fetching £28 and the smaller £11 11s 0d. The cutter Moonlight left for the wreck site on 16 May, and it is presumed that subsequent salvage was carried out as the wreck lies in waters protected by all except northerly winds. The absence of heavy but salvageable items such as ground tackle and the rudder and its fittings, including the upper gudgeons from the stern-post, lends support to this assumption.
The wreck of the Hadda lies 720 m ENE of Beacon Island, Wallabi Group, Houtman Abrolhos.
The wreck lies in a gully at the edge of a coral reef in depths ranging from 2 to 5.6 m. It is oriented in a SSE to NNW direction and covers an area of about 40 m by 19 m. There is a substantial amount of the hull remaining, particularly a large portion of the port side. Other wreckage includes the starboard garboard plank; the keel; 45 iron hanging knees which joined the deck to the hull; deadeyes; a chain plate; various fastenings and the port hawse pipe.
EXCAVATION AND ARTEFACTS
The site was located by the Museum in 1970, and further fieldwork was carried out in 1973, 1975, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1992 and 1999. A number of artefacts were recovered both from the wreck site and from Beacon Island. These included two rudder gudgeons; ship’s fastenings and fittings; a brass pulley; part of a grindstone; brass sheeting; glass and ceramic fragments.
Owner William Johnston of Newcastle, New South Wales
Master Captain John Lewis Parker
Country Built Germany
Port Built Sundahaven
When Built 1860
Gouped Region Mid-West
Sinking Strong current pulling it off course
When Lost 1877/04/30
Where Lost Off Beacon Island
Position Information DGPS
Port From Lacepedes
Port To Fremantle
Official Number 61014
Unique Number 1219
Sunk Code Wrecked and sunk
File Number 2009/0127/SG _MA-2/81
Chart Number AUS 332
Protected Protected Federal
Date Inspected 2004/03