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ANMM Collection

Model of Oskar Speck's folding kayak SUNNSCHIEN

Date: 1941-1942
Dimensions:
Overall: 170 x 53 x 345 mm
Medium: Metal: Copper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Copyright: © Australian National Maritime Museum
Classification:Models
Object Name: Model
Object No: 00032899
Place Manufactured:Tatura

User Terms

    Description
    From 1932 to 1939 Oskar Speck paddled and sailed a small folding canvas kayak (folbot) more than 50,000 kilometres from Ulm on the Danube River in Germany to Saibai Island in the Torres Strait. Arriving shortly after World War II was declared in 1939 Speck was interned in Australia for more than six years. This model of the folding kayak SUNNSCHIEN, fashioned primarily from copper, was made by a fellow internee at the Tatura internment camp in Victoria during the war.
    SignificanceThis model of SUNNSCHIEN relates to the remarkable story of Oskar Speck, who undertook an epic seven-year, 50,000 km voyage from Germany to Australia in his five-and-half metre collapsible kayak.
    HistoryWhen German electrical contractor Oskar Speck's business closed during the economic turmoil of the early 1930s, he decided to paddle down the Danube River in his five-and-half metre collapsible kayak SUNNSCHIEN (SUNSHINE) and head to Cyprus to find work. On 18 June 1932, aged 25, Speck departed from Ulm, Germany and eventually made his way through Austria, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and eventually to the Mediterranean. Upon reaching Cyprus, Speck decided rather than find work, he would continue his adventure describing his kayak as a "first class ticket to everywhere".

    Speck headed for Syria and from there across to Iran and Pakistan. By 1935, three years after leaving Germany, he had reached India and Sri Lanka. Speck paddled onward to Burma, Thailand and Malaysia, and arrived in Indonesia in 1937. There he acquired a 16mm cine-camera which allowed him to film the remainder of his voyage. Speck then progressed on to Dutch New Guinea. He arrived on Saibai Island (in the Northern Torres Strait) with a swastika pennant flying from the bow of his 5.3 metre German built Folbot kayak only a few days after Australia declared war with Germany.

    As Speck was travelling on a German passport, he was promptly arrested as an enemy alien on his arrival on Thursday Island (in the Western Islands of the Torres Strait off Cape York Peninsula). Speck was detained at the Tatura internment camp in Victoria, and after escaping and being recaptured he was sent to the Loveday Internment camps in South Australia for the duration of the war.

    Speck never returned to Germany. On his release he travelled to Lightning Ridge to learn the opal cutting trade before settling in Sydney. He died in 1993.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Model of kayak SUNNSCHIEN

    Primary title: Model of Oskar Speck's folding kayak SUNNSCHIEN

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