Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Bracelet from the YONGALA wreck site

Date: pre 1911
Overall: 115 x 15 mm, 19 g
Medium: Gold
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Ron and Valerie Taylor
Object Name: Bracelet
Object No: 00049366

User Terms

    A gold bracelet with a love heart locket recovered by Ron and Valerie Taylor during their underwater expeditions to the wreck of the YONGALA.
    Divers Ron and Valerie Taylor recovered this gold heart locket bracelet during their diving expeditions of the YONGALA wreck off Cape Bowling Green, Queensland. Over 10 days in 1981, the Taylors and a group of three friends filmed a documentary of the site 'Wreck of the Yongala' which aired on television in 1982. The film was instrumental in having the YONGALA wreck site protected from fishing.
    SignificanceThis bracelet comes from the collection of Ron and Valerie Taylor, who were household names in Australia in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and are honoured for their dramatic and beautiful underwater photography and film, and their dedication to marine conservation.
    HistoryThe YONGALA was launched in 1903 for the Adelaide Steamship Co. and commenced her service on the Fremantle to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney route. She then was used on the Fremantle to Brisbane route and earned the honour of becoming the first vessel to complete the direct 5000 kilometre journey from Fremantle to Brisbane.
    It was with this established service record and under direction of the veteran Captain William Knight, who had been working for the Adelaide Steam Ship Co for 14 years, that the YONGALA departed MacKay in the afternoon of the 23 March 1911 headed for Townsville. On board were 49 passengers, 73 crew and cargo, including a horse and cow.
    It was not long after YONGALA's departure that a warning was received at Mackay for an approaching cyclone in the area. Unable to warn the YONGALA and it was assumed that the vessel along with others would anchor and take refuge somewhere on the way.
    Not much is known of her movements from the evening of the 23 March but she was last sighted from the lighthouse on Dent Island in the Whitsunday passage.
    Despite not arriving in Townsville on her due date, concern was not raised about the YONGALA until the 26 March when she was listed as missing. Concern was immediately raised when the vessels COOMA and TAIYUAN, who had departed Mackay after the YONGALA, arrived in Townsville before her and stated that neither had seen the YONGALA on the way.
    Despite an extensive search, an inquiry and some wreckage being found on Hinchinbrook Island, there was no further evidence as to where the YONGALA had floundered or what had happened to her. The only body found was that of the horse, Moonshine.
    It was not until 1947 that the Royal Australian Navy tentatively confirmed that a submerged 'obstacle', initially located in 1943, was likely the YONGALA. In 1958 the safe from the wreck was bought to the surface. By identifying the Chubb serial number it was confirmed that the safe had indeed belonged on the YONGALA. Since then, the YONGALA has become a popular diving spot and home to reef fish and marine life.

    Both Ron Taylor and Valerie Taylor (née Heighes) were pioneers in Australian skindiving. Ron took up the sport in 1952 and Valerie in 1956; they met as members of St George Spearfishing Club in Sydney and were married in 1963. At this period there was little awareness of marine conservation and both Ron and Valerie excelled at the sport of competitive spearfishing. Valerie won the Ladies National Spearfishing Championships three years in a row in the early 1960s, and Ron took out the World Spearfishing Championships in Tahiti in 1965.

    The Taylors' underwater interests grew to encompass scuba diving and underwater photography. Ron built the first of many underwater housings to take land cameras beneath the sea in 1953. When television came to Australia in 1956 he saw the potential for making underwater news stories and with the help of a friend, who lent him a Bell & Howell 16 mm movie camera, Ron built an acrylic housing for the camera and started selling underwater footage to television and to the cinema newsreel producer Movietone News.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Bracelet

    Web title: Bracelet from the YONGALA wreck site

    Collection title: Ron and Valerie Taylor collection

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.