Home Community 180th Anniversary of Cervantes Shipwreck

180th Anniversary of Cervantes Shipwreck


Cervantes Historical Society is this year commemorating the 180th anniversary of the June 1844 sinking of the vessel Cervantes, from which the town derived its name (event details below).

The Cervantes was a whaling ship built in 1836 in Maine, USA. It was anchored in Jurien Bay and the crew were fishing when a gale blew up. Before the vessel could make sail and weather the gale out at sea, it was driven on to a sandbar. The crew made it to shore, and three of them arrived in Perth on 6 July to report the loss. On 9 July the master, Sylvanus Gibson, and more crew arrived. He reported that one man had been left some 50 km north of the Moore River, while another six crewmen had returned to the wreck site.

They initially intended to get a boat from the Cervantes in order to sail to Fremantle, believing there to be only minor damage. However, its keel was broken, and because of the distance from Fremantle, it was decided to sell the vessel.

L. & W. Samson conducted the auction of the Cervantes and its contents. The wreck with all its stores and whaling gear fetched £155. The ship’s chronometer sold separately for £23. The salvors sent by the purchaser, Mr Wicksteed, reported the wreck as still standing when they salvaged gear in August.

In fact, Joshua William Gregory said it was still visible above water when he surveyed that section of the coast in the schooner Thetis in 1847. Mr Wicksteed contemplated setting up a whaling station using the salvaged gear as the crew of the Cervantes had reported many seals in the area.

Remains of the Cervantes are still visible on a clear day in the sand — the wreck lies in 2–3 m of water about 0.5 nautical mile WSW of Thirsty Point. The WA Museum holds artefacts retrieved from the wreck which was discovered in 1969. There are also some items on display at the Cervantes Museum.

The vessel was named after early modern Spanish writer, Miguel de Cervantes, whose most famous work Don Quixote is often cited as the first modern novel.

Information taken from shipwreckswa.com.


Saturday 22 June 2024, 6pm
To commemorate the 1844 sinking of the vessel Cervantes the Cervantes Historical Society presents the Rum Jungle Shanty Singers, with other entertainers in conjunction with a three-course meal (BYO drinks), Cervantes Community Recreation Centre, Aragon Street, Cervantes.

Tickets are available $55 each on Trybooking or purchase locally from the Museum. Enquiries to cervanteshistoricalsociety@gmail.com, or cervantes50th@hotmail.com.