The Pearling Disaster, 1899: A Memorial, Map insert, p14.
|The Pearling Disaster, 1899: A Memorial, p29.|
Caption: Captain W. F. Porter of Crest of the Wave.
Mr. Arthur Outridge (Father of Harold Outridge) in Diving Dress
Mahina destroyed several pearling fleets, operating out of Thursday Island, which had taken last minute shelter in Bathurst Bay, only to find this was in Mahina’s direct path. Of more than 320 souls lost from the pearling fleets the vast majority were from the Pacific or Torres Strait Islands, Japan or South-East Asia. Most of the Aboriginal deaths occurred on land, or indeed as they desperately tried to rescue the stricken pearlers. Only 12 European deaths were recorded.
One of the real treasures in Special Collections must surely be the contemporary account, “The Pearling Disaster 1899 : A Memorial”, published by the Outridge family who lost two members aboard the schooner “Sagitta”. The National Library of Australia is currently providing access to a digital copy of this book. Hector Holthouse devotes a chapter of his 1971 book “Cyclone” to Mahina, while Ian Townsend’s gripping 2008 novel, “The Devil’s Eye” is based on events surrounding the storm and lists the names of nearly all the non-European victims. All titles are held in the North Queensland collection.