Sunday, 17 April 2016


It is my opinion that there was a significant quantity of gold on board Waratah when she went missing. In 1909 one ton of gold was worth about 124 395 pounds. In March 1910 all relevant information relating to the Waratah was collated in preparation for the Inquiry, which convened, December, 1910. During this time one of the newspapers obtained information that there were 105 tons of gold on board waratah during her final voyage. 

An astute Waratah observer commented that the total production of gold for Australia, 1909, was 101 tons. This figure does not equate with 105 tons, unless some of the gold originated from South Africa, which was in a phase of transition to a Union in the following year, 1910 - fears that hard-liners from the Boer War would destabilise the country were adequate reason for relocating gold to London banks for safety. 

However, there was another reason for moving gold from Commonwealth countries back to the centre of the 'Empire'. London banks were in trouble due to American lending. London banks' biggest client was the British government, itself. Therefore, gold was transported back to England from Australia and South Africa not as an export commodity, but rather for the purpose of shoring up London banks. 

This brings us to the amount of gold held by Australian banks, 1909 - 211 tons. In fact Australian gold reserves in 1909 were 25% greater than the so-called boom year of 1903. Australia was more than capable of providing 105 tons of gold for transport on Waratah to London, without any contributions necessarily to be made by South Africa. 

Naturally such circumstances involving the transport of 13 061 469 pounds of gold on Waratah blew risk out of the water, exploding to a whole new dimension. But if a government wanted the relocation of gold back to London from the colonies, there was no choice but to rely on steamers. I can quite believe, taking into account William Lunds' connections and influence, that his flagship was considered as good as it got. Of course, none of this gold (and silver) reflected on the insurance coverage of Waratah, whose cargo was valued at 175 000 pounds. No doubt the British government covered insurance, independently, for the relocated gold. 

Now if it were to become public knowledge that 105 tons of gold was lost with the Waratah, panic would have taken hold in global markets. 

The loss of the Waratah was marked by unprecedented searches spanning many months, well into 1910. As far as the world was concerned this was based on a strong probability that Waratah was adrift in the Southern Oceans. But from a more realistic point of view, the British Government could not afford information leaking to the press and public at large, that 105 tons of Commonwealth gold had been lost. 

There had to be a sound reason for the Lunds refuting the Harlow account, without any room for speculation. It allowed the markets to remain stable and by the time one newspaper reported on the gold on board Waratah, many months later, the impact had been diluted. What was done was done and the markets continued, business as usual. Confidence in London banks remained intact. As far as the world was concerned the Warath was adrift and only a matter of time before recovered, and whether there was a living soul on board, the gold could be retrieved. 

I can't help wondering if subterfuge investigations were made off Poenskop, the wreck discovered, and efforts made to salvage the gold. Of course this could never have reached the light of day in the press. It will be interesting, if indeed the wreck is discovered off Poenskop, if there is any gold, silver or copper remaining? I believe that the ultimate twist in the tale of the Waratah mystery might very well be that her wreck was discovered in 1909 and the world, including loved ones of those on board, none the wiser. The protracted searches bought much needed time to complete the clandestine operation.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

A nice fairy tale.

andrew van rensburg said...

A fairy tale is all we have at this stage - unless you know where the Waratah went down, why and all circumstances surrounding her loss.

Stuart Flood said...

Interesting, would there be any evidence in the archives confirming or refuting the presence of Gold? Then there is the question of getting at the gold surely a staticlly moored ship with diving equipment and divers would have attracted attention from the land or from passing ships. Then finding a suitable ship for such a salvage. Its a bit like the Titanic was swapped with a fatally damaged Olympic theory (this conspiracy theory is basically that the Olympic was written off on Titanic's insurance due to the severity of damage that the Olympic suffered in the incidents it was invoved in in 1911 and the two ships were swapped the last time they were in Belfast together.) surely with the number of people involved someone would have talked. Then secret military ops are kept well under wraps mostly and it probably would have been easer to keep a secret in 1909.

andrew van rensburg said...

Thank you Stuart for your constructive comment. My thoughts on this subject venture ambitiously into the territory of 'a fairy tale'. Yes, it would have been a difficult operation to pull off without leaking to the general public. However, Nkadusweni River mouth, is as remote as it gets and if there was South African gold on board, I am sure government troops would have been involved to keep it hush hush. There is a reason why I have considered this possibility. A fortune was spent on searches at sea for Waratah. Captain Bruce was adamant that the wreck lay in 20 fathoms off the Nkadusweni River mouth. It is bizarre that a formal search was not conducted to confirm or refute his claim, after all, dragging a wire (before the wreck became silted over) would have been relatively cheap. Note that the Inquiry transcript did not refer to any such investigation, which would have categorically put the Harlow claim to bed, once and for all. The fact that this was not done is highly suspicious and led me to come to the above conclusion. Andrew

Mole said...

I think it would have been a difficult operation to hush up successfully and if the least bit of the story was leaked there would have been uproar about searching for purposes of retrieving the gold but ignoring the bodies.

andrew van rensburg said...

I absolutely agree with you Mole (and Stuart), such an operation would have attracted attention of some kind. The world would have reacted harshly to bodies being ignored. But, I would still like to know why authorities did not follow up on Captain Bruce's coordinates??