Grave of 245 bodies from the Cataraqui disaster, sketched by Bishop Nixon in 1845 (ALMFA, SLT)

Cataraqui, full-rigged ship of 802 tons, was wrecked on the south-west coast of King Island on 4 August 1845 with the loss of 400 lives, the worst shipping disaster in Tasmanian waters, and the second worst non-wartime shipping disaster in the Australasian region. The ship was on a voyage from Liverpool for Melbourne with 367 assisted emigrants, mostly from rural England, when she hit during the night, and broke up over the following two days. Only one emigrant and eight of the crew managed to survive drowning or being crushed to death on rocky reefs surrounding the wreck site.

Further reading: A Lemon & M Morgan, Poor souls, they perished, Melbourne, 1986.

Graeme Broxam