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Material collected by Oskar Speck

Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS0548

User Terms

    This archive series consists of material collected by Oskar Speck relating to his incredible seven year kayaking voyage from Germany to Australia in the 1930s. It includes a handwritten list in German of Speck's belongings (possibly written during his internment); a letter in English to McQueen requesting clearance for Oskar Speck; an envelope addressed to J Fergus Brown of the Medical Department in Kikori, Papua; a letter from O Ludwicg to A Awunsch; a letterhead for Attaram J Desai, General Merchant & Importer of Government suppliers; a card with small pieces of opal glued to the backing; a certificate of appreciation presented to Oskar Speck from the Apex Club of Gosford; and a typed draft of a speech given by Oskar Speck. English translations have been made of those items written in German.
    SignificanceThis archive series 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 SUNNSCHIEN (SUNSHINE).
    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: Material collected by Oskar Speck

    Primary title: Miscellaneous items collected by Oskar Speck

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