The Cervantes ship wreck
The story of our little Western Australian coastal town is an historical tale.
Just two hours north of Perth, this town is known for its rock lobster, its fishing spots, and of course, Lobster Shack.
But how did the town originate? Where did it come from?
It is actually named after a shipwreck!
During the 19th century, whaling was a global industry with people setting sail from around the world to make their fortune.
Western Australia was a plentiful bounty for people who would risk the journey.
The Cervantes ship, under the command of Captain Sylvanus Gibson, was one of these brave ships – one that would never return.
The ship itself was named after the author of the infamous novel Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (Ps This is why the streets names and parks of the town have a Spanish influence).
Whilst anchored to do some fishing off the coast of Jurien Bay, a sudden wind came through and the ship was stuck fast.
Three seamen from the boat arrived in Fremantle, exhausted, reporting the wreck.
The Inquirer and Commercial News reported the incident on July 10th, 1844 stating:
‘On Saturday evening between eight and nine o’clock, three seamen belonging to the American whale ship Cervantes, of New Bedford, arrived at Fremantle in an exhausted state, and reported the wreck of that vessel upon an island in Jurien Bay, about 100 miles northward of this. Yesterday, the master, Captain Gibson, and some more of the crew arrived and stated that the vessel was wrecked on the 29th June and that one man had been left about 30 miles beyond the Moore River unable to proceed further, and that six others, after walking some distance with them, had returned to the wreck, with the intention of making their way here in a boat. The vessel was but a short time from America and had only about 10 barrels of oil. The master reports that the vessel is but very little damaged, and likely to remain in a perfect state for a long time. He has applied to the government to send the Champion in search of the missing men, and to bring the effects of himself and crew – an application which will doubtless be complied with. The poor fellows, who are of course, in a destitute state, have been provided for by R.M.B Brown Esq., the Resident Magistrate.’
Instead of trying to salvage the shipwreck, they sold it all off to buyers. The stores and whaling gear went for £155.
The wrecksite was only later discovered in 1970 on a sandy bottom in only two metres of water.
The wreck still today lies in two to three meters of water, about 0.5 miles west south-west of Thirsty Point.
Even today, the quiet little fishing village near the amazing Pinnacles desert, is centred around the marine world.
Once you’re in town, you will be able to see elements of the shipwreck scattered throughout the town (including the Don Quixote-esque anemometer at the entrance to the town).
Opposite the Cervantes Pinnacles Motel, you will also find the Europa anchor retrieved from the ship Europe off the coast of Cervantes.
To learn all about the history of our great town, come up and visit us the next chance you get!