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Bill Newbold finds sandalwood at Abrolhos Islands.

The story of the SS Windsor
Pages 1 2 3 4

In 2003, while wandering around the mangroves on Pelsart Island looking for driftwood, Bill Newbold picked up a heavy piece of wood and with others brought it back to his shack at Whale Bay Island, north of Pelsart Island.

Later when burning some of the wood on the fire it was discovered the beautiful aroma coming from the fire was sandalwood and the piece of wood was taken off and extinguished immediately.

Bill, a local legend, has been fishing in the Abrolhos Islands since 1948 and knew that a sandalwood ship, S.S. Windsor had sunk on the outer reef in 1908 and this would have been part of that cargo. It had been in the ocean for over 95 years.

When Tim Coakley, the Chairman of Wescorp Sandalwood, was visiting the Abrolhos Islands in May 2006, he met Bill and his family and after many beers, wine and exchange of yarns, Bill discovered Tim’s relationship in the sandalwood industry.

Before leaving the islands Bill gave the log to Tim for display in the Wescorp boardroom where it is mounted with the full story attached. On searching the archives in the WA Battye Library in Perth the following has been disclosed to date.

The steamer S.S. Windsor left Fremantle on Saturday 1st February 1908 with 1,100 ton of sandalwood on board, thirty-seven men and was bound for Hong Kong. Photo of S.S. Windsor being loaded with sandalwood can be purchased from the WA Battye Library.

On Sunday night at 2145 hours, while the Captain was on the bridge a concussion was felt throughout the ship and all hands were ordered on deck and full speed astern. It was too dark and rough to do anything until the next morning, when it was discovered the Windsor had run up on the outer reef of the Pelsart Island, at a location known as Wreck Point. It was approximately 70 kilometres from where the Batavia had been lost in 1629.

It was two miles over reef to land on Pelsart Island and during the Monday twenty of the crew including 15 Chinese were taken to the island with the two lifeboats. The lifeboats were return before dark to the Windsor and further rescues would be made the next morning. Those 17 remaining including the Captain stayed on board. During the night the seas became very heavy and the lifeboats were lost and destroyed.

The employees of Fallowfield & Co, which had the lease for the guano workings, discovered the twenty survivors on the Island.

At about eight o’clock on Tuesday morning the chief engineer, Mr Jenkins, attempted to swim a line to shore but drowned in the heavy running seas. On arrival of the steamer Venus from Fallowfield & Co, Captain Davis made another unsuccessful attempt to save the crew.

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