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A true story of shipwreck and rescue, this remarkable narrative relates the ordeal of first-time author Rathe's grandfather, Miho Baccich, who, as a teenage Croatian sailor, was rescued by aborigines after his ship sank off Australia's desolate northwestern coast in October 1875. Baccich watched eight fellow survivors succumb to madness and starvation, until only he and shipmate Ivan Jurich were left.
Driven to cannibalism, the two were finally adopted by a nomadic aboriginal band, and joined their rescuers' relentless search for food. Initially fearful of these ``barbarians,'' Baccich grew impressed with their innumerable acts of kindness, gentle ways and harmony with nature. He and Jurich were rescued by an English cutter in April 1876. Their story--first set down by a Jesuit scholar that year, and here fleshed out with new source material gathered by Rathe, who recasts the tale in crystalline modern prose--is a marvelous Conradian journey into the heart of darkness, a haunting parable on race relations and a challenge to our preconceptions about ``civilized'' versus ``primitive'' behavior. In an epilogue, Rathe tracks the fates of Jurich, who was murdered by the Nazis, and of Baccich, who settled in New Orleans. Embellished by sketches, maps and photographs (many in color), this memorable adventure story combines high drama and insight into the human condition.
Miho Baccich and Ivan Jurich shortly after their rescue, Fremantle, 1876.
Rathe, R 1990, The wreck of the barque Stefano off the North West Cape of Australia in 1875, Hesperian, Victoria Park, WA.
Baccich in New Orleans about 1882.
Rathe, R 1990, The wreck of the barque Stefano off the North West Cape of Australia in 1875, Hesperian, Victoria Park, WA.
For a number of years the National Academy of Screen and Sound (NASS) Research Centre, Murdoch University in association with the Barque Stefano Yinikurtira Foundation (BSYF) have been developing a cutting-edge CYBER-TRAIL concept proposal based on the barque Stefano shipwreck story . The centerpiece of this story is the journey of the barque Stefano survivors with their Aboriginal benefactors along the North West coast (Carnarvon to Roebourne).
As an element of this confidential development the NASS Research Centre and BSYF have:
(i) Gathered a community of specialists, renowned artists, image-makers, leading academics, educationalist, indigenous managers and elders, pastoralist, conservationists and marine scientists who wish to contribute to this project.
(ii) Established a network of institutional collaborators and stakeholders at the highest level of research and innovation in Australia and overseas
(iii) Carried out a series of forums, conferences, colloquiums, publications and film festivals to publicize its activities among potential participants in Australia and overseas (from Zanzibar to Dubrovnik).
The preparation stage of this development is now close to completion and the BARQUE STEFANO CYBER-TRAIL team is inviting regional and state organizations to join us on this prestigious and unique undertaking.
The Barque Stefano CYBER-TRAIL will be a significant cultural and reconciliation monument in cyberspace for and on behalf of Indigenous people of the North West Australia in perpetuity. It is expected that the CYBER-TRAIL will be a unifying platform for all Aboriginal people and for Aboriginal groups of the North West Australia in particular.
The Barque Stefano CYBER-TRAIL will have a global reach. In cyberspace the Cyber-Trail will be constructed by convergent, accumulative and interactive media formats made up of the barque Stefano shipwreck information, stories, texts, images, sounds, Aboriginal song lines, music, movies, 3D experiential immersions, various data banks, and apps of all kind.
As a significant cultural cyber monument the Barque Stefano CYBER-TRAIL is expected to draw national and international attention and contribute greatly to the culture and economy of the North West region from Carnarvon to Roebourne along with national and international connections and offshoots in Fremantle, Exmouth, Onslow, Roebourne, Indian Ocean rim countries, Dalmatian coast, New Orleans, Black Sea, Cardiff, UK, to name a few.
The Barque Stefano CYBER-TRAIL will do this by being unique from inception.
The most valuable element of the CYBER-TRAIL will be its ability to attract interesting national and international contributors. The CYBER-TRAIL will invite and facilitate contributions from world cyber specialists, artists, writers, performers and thinkers. The strong memberships of the NASS Research Centre and BSYF already has many such contributors. Accordingly the CYBER-TRAIL will be both an archive and a creative work.
Another valuable element of the Barque Stefano CYBER-TRAIL will be its ability to attract real-time activities such as film festivals, popular culture forums, research conferences, and innovative performances by musicians, artists, dancers and actors.
The Barque Stefano CYBER-TRAIL is expected to grow and develop as a living CYBER-TRAIL archive. It will be capable to evolve into new forms of interaction with its global users
The Barque Stefano CYBER-TRAIL project will be based on a sustainable business model that cannot be appropriated, commissioned or sold off. Each contributor will be a shareholder in the project and can withdraw their contribution at any time. The governance will be rigorous, democratic and transparent with a built-in maintenance regime.
Indigenous and other groups will be able to benefit from mobile CYBER-TRAIL guides and related material (books, artwork, forums, etc).
With the confidential stage of development now complete the CYBER-TRAIL will unfold according to the following sequential development:
Cyber-Trail Educational Platform
Cyber-Trail Mobile Hyper-Text
Cyber-Trail Creative And Festive Initiatives
Cyber-Trail Virtual Reality, Appsand AI Archive
Prospective partners from funding organizations are now invited to join this exciting and unique development.
Enquiries and EOI should be directed to the NASS Director, Dr Josko Petkovic and the BSYF Secretary Lyn Sutton
Cossack was the birthplace of Western Australia’s pearling industry and was the home of the colony’s pearling fleet until the 1880s. Many small boats off the Port Walcott coast dived for pearl shell during the 1860s using Aboriginal labour, including women and children. By early 1869, there were 14 small vessels pearling in the area, with an average crew of three Europeans and six Aboriginals. By the early 1870s up to 80 luggers were operating in the area. The pearling industry also attracted a large Asian population.
Wool production, usually on large stations, was also the basis of expansion further east and northward.
The first permanent settlements in the North West (later divided into the Pilbara and Kimberley regions) took place in the mid-1860s, initially at the Harding River, De Grey River and Roebourne (gazetted in 1867). Pearling also came to dominate the North West, initially in Nickol Bay, with a fleet at Tien Tsin Harbor (later renamed Cossack). In the North West, unlike southern WA, the labour force was dominated by Indigenous Australians, often under harsh forms of unfree labour.
Michael Baccich and Stjepan Skurla, 1876
Angelina Baccich, 1920
Edited, with analysis
Josko Petkovic, 2007
Part 1 - Introduction & Manuscript
Part 2 - Abstracts, Chapters 1-12 & Map
Part 3 - Indigenous Languages in the Stefano Manuscript
In 2001 an expedition of seven Australians set out from Western Australia to find the final resting places of two famous exploration vessels. The French frigate 'Uranie' lost in the Falkland Islands in 1820 and William Dampier's ship
'Roebuck' wrecked at Ascension Island. What they discovered in their search was far beyond their expectations, perhaps even their imaginations.
An old sea chest, a letter, a list of shipwrecks and a riddle...crack the code and find the sunken treasure with this underwater adventure. "Dear Duncan - A small fortune in gold could be yours - if you are smart enough to find it. I'm leaving a list of shipwrecks and a riddle - the rest is up to you..." Uncle Joe. Dive in and take the challenge with Duncan Cameron to search for sunken treasure. There are real shipwrecks to explore, secrets to unravel, and a mystery to solve, plus flaps to unfold, charts to read, a compass, pieces of eight, maps, and much more to help your quest. Can YOU spot the clues along the way - and crack Uncle Joe's riddle?
Maritime archaeologist Graeme Henderson has personally located and dived many of the shipwrecks in this book. He describes swimming the length of the 50-metre HMS 'Pandora' wreck, diving in heavy turbulence to raise sandstone blocks and artillery pieces from the 'Batavia' and the eerie experience of looking up at the jagged undercut cliffs that bore witness to the drowning of asylum seekers on SIEV 221.
From English and Dutch trading vessels in the seventeenth century to emigrant ships in the nineteenth century and the great warships of the Second World War, 'Swallowed by the Sea' explains how each ship was wrecked and discovered, and what remains of the wrecks today.
A grandson recounts the story of his grandfather's experiences as a shipwrecked sailor on a barren cape of Australia, where he and another survivor almost starved to death before being rescued by aborigines.
ABORIGINAL GROUPS IN THE STEFANO MANUSCRIPT Josko Petkovic
The Stefano castaways were in contact with at least two Aboriginal groups during their six-month ordeal on the North West coast of Australia,
The Preliminary Court of Inquiry that took place after the two survivors were brought to Fremantle by Charles Tuckey in 1876 did not name the two Aboriginal groups. The same can be said of the first commentators on the shipwreck. These include Walcott, Bush, Carter, Honniball, Smoje, the Hendersons and Rathe. It was only in the early 1990s and following the publication of Rathe’s book that the two tribes were named by the popular press as Jinigudira and Baijungu.
(The original painting by Ivankovic – Church of Our Lady of Mercy Museum, Dubrovnik)
One of the most fascinating stories from the area is the Barque Stefano shipwreck from 1875. Of the 17 crew who abandoned ship, only 10 reached the shore. The survivors, who were weak from the heat and lack of water and shelter, were hit by a cyclone which weakened them further. Many died of thirst and hunger, leaving only two survivors. They were rescued by the local tribe, the Jinigudera, who nursed them back to health over a number of months before they were rescued off Bundegi Beach.
After being taken to Fremantle the two raised funds to take gifts back to their rescuers. You can read about this incredible rescue story in many published books and articles. As well as accounts from the survivors about what the learned from their rescuers, language, tools, and structure of the tribe.
The Museum is housed in 1850s-era Commissariat building and has since been restored to its historic glory. Steeped in history, the galleries house hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA’s treacherous coastline, including the original timbers from Batavia (wrecked in 1629), the de Vlamingh Dish, and also countless artefacts from the Dutch shipwrecks Zuytdorp, Stefano, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck.
Objects recovered from the Stefano wreck: corroded bell, plate and starboard lamp.
Document displayed with the objects salvaged from the Stefano ship wreck
Towards the end of October 1875 the Austro-Hungarian barque Stefano was nearing the Australian coast on its way from Cardiff to Hong Kong with a cargo of black coal. Its 17 strong crew was made up mostly of Dalmatian-Croatian young men and boys – the oldest was the captain who was 26.
Nationality: Austro-Hungarian (modern Croatia)
Vessel type: Wooden sailing barque
Date lost: 27 October 1875
Cause of loss: Struck reef and sank
Number of Casualties: 15
Discovery date: 9 April 1998
Location/water depth: Near Point Cloates, Ningaloo Reef in 12m depth
The Aborigines hunted for fish, crabs, and other seafood on the shores of the Exmouth region for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. The first known Europeans in the area were the Dutch under Dirk Hartog in 1616.
They were the first of many sailors who sailed past the Cape and sighted land but did not stop there. The English first sighted the Cape in 1620. From then on they began using what they called Cloates Island (Point Cloates) as a navigation aid in their voyages north. A Dutchman, Willem de Vlamingh, visited the North West Cape in 1696 and Vlamingh Head Lighthouse was later named after him.
Using visual tow search methods, the Stefano was found by a museum team in 1997 and a number of objects including a bell and a starboard lamp were recovered. These now feature in an exhibition entitled ‘Strangers on the Shore’ celebrating the generosity of the Aboriginal people.
On Christmas Day they were hit by a fierce cyclone. Weakened further by the storm, they began to die, one by one, and in the last week of January only two shipwrecked mariners, Michael (“Miho”) Baccich, 16, and Ivan Jurich, 20, were still alive. They were in desperate condition. Facing a most certain death, and probably mad with hunger and privation they began to devour one of their dead comrades. It was at this point that the black “cannibals” they feared came to their rescue.
So begins what is, arguably, the most poignant story ever written about indigenous Australians. For the next three months the two castaways were nursed to health by two North West tribes who led them, in time, to the tip of the North West Cape where they were discovered and picked up, on 18 April 1876, by Captain Charles Tuckey of Mandurah in his pearling cutter Jessie.
For the next three months the two castaways were nursed to health by two North West tribes who led them, in time, to the tip of the North West Cape where they were discovered and picked up, on 18 April 1876, by Captain Charles Tuckeyof Mandurah in his pearling cutter Jessie.
The VOC also used the terms retourschip (for large vessels like the Batavia) and jacht (for smaller ships like the Vergulde Draeck). Though there were differences, contemporary vessels like the EEIC ship Trial are expected to have been similar in appearance to their Dutch counterparts. By the end of the 18th century, vessels were also being classified according to their rig, rather than their hull form, and this method has continued to the present day. Some of the more common types (brig, barque, schooner) appear in this list and are presented here in silhouette form for ease of understanding. The largest sailing vessels on this coast were found with four masts, and early steamers also carried sails. An example is the two-masted schooner-rigged SS Georgette. In cases where a vessel had a long career, its rig could have been changed during its working life. Carlisle Castle for example was first a ship and then a barque and SS Omeo had its engine removed to become a four-masted sailing barque.
Location: Mildura Wreck Road, Exmouth. The skeleton of the SS Mildura (1907 destroyed in cyclone) can be viewed from the beach at Lighthouse Bay.
Pearling town Cossack was first established in 1863 and known as Tien Tsin Harbour, although its name was changed in 1872, after a visit by Governor Weld who was travelling on the HMS Cossack.
Cape Range National Park Shipwreck Mildura exmouth Wreck of SS Mildura 1907 due to cyclone.
The two survivors were rescued by the local tribe, the Jinigudera, who nursed them back to health over a number of months before they were rescued off Bundegi Beach. After being taken to Fremantle the two raised funds to take gifts back to their rescuers.