Wednesday, 6 April 2016


1954, a man by the name of Frank Price came forward with an extraordinary witness account of the Waratah foundering. He related the story of a 'boer' by the name of Jan Pretorius who was illegally prospecting for diamonds along the banks of the Bashee River during the last week of July, 1909.
Pretorius witnessed a large steamer rolling heavily close to shore in stormy conditions. Being so close to shore he believed the steamer ran onto rocks or a shoal and sank. Pretorius withheld this information because he did not want to be arrested for diamond prospecting in that location. He confided what he had seen to his friend Frank Price, whom he swore to secrecy until after his death.

Jan Pretorius' assertion that the large steamer ran onto rocks or a shoal confirms my own suspicions that the Waratah suffered catastrophic damage and foundered rapidly. However, if the wreck of the Waratah lay just off the mouth of the Bashee River, why has she not been discovered? The Mbashe puts out considerable silt which could effectively cover and 'hide' wrecks, waiting for the right side-scan sonar to come along....

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