32a["Interview with Captain Mills", Broome Chronicle (WA), Saturday 06 April 1912]


Captain Mills, of the s.s. Minderoo, which was in port yesterday, kindly consented to give our representative a few particulars. He said:

"While at Carnarvon I received instructions to make a thorough search for the missing ship. I proceeded to Barrow Island and Montebello and Ritchie Reef back to Scholl Island, and from there on to Cossack, after searching the whole of the Dampier Archipelago. From there we proceeded to Depuch, and then back to my former position off Ritchie Reef which was searched through in 80 miles latitude and 140 longitude a little north of Port Hedland. The first wreckage was picked up 70 miles west of Bedout--a smoking room settee--at 9.30 in the morning; also a bottom board of a boat which was recovered about 4 p.m., 55 miles west of Bedout, and recognized it from a number on it. I was then satisfied she had gone and abandoned the search."

We understand that Captain Mills traversed the ocean for 1500 miles in the search, during which time he scarcely left the bridge.

In conversation with the Chief Engineer of the Minderoo (Mr. Jamieson) it was ascertained that his comrade on the Koombana (Jock Innes) was a fine stamp of a Scotchman, and it was only just prior to her last trip they met in Fremantle, when Jamieson asked for a photo of the old ship. "I have only one left, but you are welcome to it. It now hangs in the Chief Engineer's cabin on the Minderoo. He also gave Jamieson the last photo he had of himself.

During Tuesday Mr. Hugo Harper who went with the search party from Broome on the lugger [unclear] arrived at Port Hedland and at once wired his brother (Gilbert) that he had found nothing, and if Captain Dalziel or Captain White did not bring in any news the search, so far as they were concerned, would be fruitless.

On Wednesday Mr. Gilbert Harper received the following from his brother:--"Fear worst, found some wreckage myself but did not place much importance on it. Gorgon in Hedland with cabin door, Minderoo has bottom of lifeboat, cabin fittings and smoke room Morocco settee. Personally now fear disaster. Returning to-night by Minderoo."

32b["The Ill-Fated Koombana", The West Australian, Saturday 13 April 1912, page 12]




Broome, April 12.

Further evidence of the wreck of the Koombana has come to hand. Mr. A. J. Russell came in during the week with two air-tight copper tanks, and mariners have declared these to be from either a lifeboat or a launch, being shaped so as to fit under the seats. These were found about 150 miles from Broome, between Wallal and Bedout Island. Much sympathy has been expressed from all parts with the friends and relatives of those on board the Koombana, and the Mayor has replied to the messages received. It is rumoured that Mr. A. Davis, a passenger by the Koombana, who was a pearl buyer on a large scale, had valuable pearls with him, having met his buyer from Sharks Bay on his way up.


Captain Dalziel, the harbourmaster at Broome, who was in charge of the search party organised by the resident magistrate and the Mayor, arrived back during the week. In an interview he said that he left in the schooner Muriel and went to Rowley Shoals, arriving on the night of March 29. He got to Clark's Reef (Middle Shoal) on the following day, and spoke the steamer Gorgon that afternoon. Be proceeded along the north of the reef and down the east side of Impereuse Reef. At half-past 2 o'clock on the afternoon of March 31 he spoke the steamer Moira, stating that he had searched the shoals and found nothing. He zigzagged down to Bedout Island by 16 mile tacks, and sighted the island in the forenoon of April 3. At 6 o'clock that night he boarded the steamer Bullarra at sea, and the captain reported that he had found wreckage. He proceeded to Turtle Island, but saw nothing, and arrived at Port Hedland at 9 p.m. on the 4th inst. All on board the Muriel were then satisfied that they had done their best, and as steamers were out in all directions it was decided to return to Broome. After leaving Port Hedland at 2 p.m. on the 5th inst. he proceeded to Bedout Island, which was thoroughly searched, but no trace of wreckage of any description was found. It had been reported earlier that the island showed no sign of having been visited by a storm, but he was of opinion, from the number of dead and maimed birds, that there was ample evidence of a severe gale. Mr. Hugo Harper, who accompanied Captain Bennie on the former's lugger Mina in search of the Koombana, said that they left Broome on March 25 and proceeded to a position, as instructed by Captain Dalziel, about 80 miles due west of Bedout Island. After arriving there a stiff "cockeye" came up, which sent the lugger under the island for shelter. At 8 o'clock the light should have been visible. At 9 o'clock there was still no light to be seen, and it was decided to stand away. Captain Bennie was positive that there was no light burning. In the morning the lugger stood on its course again, and at about 9 o'clock. when about 10 miles off the island, they picked up something that looked like a piece of wreckage. After close inspection they were convinced that it was a piece of the inside of a cabin. When they got to Port Hedland the police took possession of it, and it was decided until further proof was obtained to keep the matter quiet, as the police said that possibly the wreckage might have been from the Crown of England wreck off Balla Balla. This, as it afterwards turned out, was the first wreckage found from the Koombana. After seeing the settee and other portions of the wreckage he was convinced that the piece picked up by the Mina was portion of one of the Koombana's cabins.


AB notes:

An early discovery by Mina all but dismissed.