Broughton Island’s pristine environment has long been popular with fishermen. In the 1880s Italian fishermen established a small settlement on the island followed later by Greek fishermen who arrived around WW1. The island is the only safe anchorage between Port Stephens and Seal Rocks and has subsequently seen many strandings and shipwrecks.1 In each of these stories it is the kindness of fishermen who came to the rescue of stricken crews.
In 1894 two fishermen were stranded on the island for 14 days after their boat hit a reef. Their supplies were spoiled by saltwater and they existed solely on shellfish and freshwater. Their signals for help went unnoticed and they were close to starvation when a party of Italian fishermen were landed on the island. The Italians generously shared their food and cared for them until help could arrive. Five days later the steamer ‘Kingsley’ took the two to safety.2 This story was repeated just five years later when two men were saved by fisherman Harry Steinmer.3
In 1952 four fishermen were stranded after their boat broke down. Unable to use their two-way radio they were thankfully cared for by James Karageorgis, a Greek fisherman who was a permanent resident on Broughton Island. They used flashlights to alert a R.A.A.F. plane of their stranding. Just when a trawler arrived to collect them, Karageorgis was about to serve dinner – roast duck caught and cooked by him. Unfortunately the seas were so rough the men had to forgo their dinner to return home.4
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Rosemary Broomham and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Myall Lakes National Park: A People’s History, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, NSW: 2010.
2 Daily Telegraph, 23 May 1894.
3 Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 26 June 1899; Australian Star, 26 June 1899.
4 Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 2 Jul 1952.