The Heritage of the Deep: Finding s/s Stefano
It has been long since been considered that the Black Rock, a dangerous, isolated reef near Point Cloates, Western Australia (WA) was the place where the barque Stefano (owned by the Baccic family from Dubrovnik, during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy) was wrecked in 1875. There were only two survivors of 17 crew members (all Croatians from Dalmatia, majority from the region of Dubrovnik and bar one English boy).
The modern underwater scientific search for Stefano started at the beginning of the 1980s’ under the leadership of Graeme Henderson then Curator of Maritime Archaeology at the WA Maritime Museum at Fremantle. He developed the Museum’s colonial shipwrecks management programme and, together with his wife Kandy-Jane Henderson, who was an archivist in the State Archives of WA, published the book on shipwrecks in which the Stefano featured entitled Unfinished voyages 1851-1880. In 1988 Graeme Henderson won the Australian Heritage Award for an outstanding contribution to the preservation and promotion of Australian heritage and environment. While searching for the wreck of the Portuguese despatch vessel Correio d’ Azia lost near Point Cloates in 1816, Henderson was also searching for evidence of the Stefano tragedy of October 27th 1875. His search of nearby Ningaloo Reef was without the expected result, however. Success was had almost at the end of the 1990s’ by a four-member team led by Jeremy Green, a remote-sensing specialist and Head of the Department of Maritime Archaeology. With him on that occasion was Mike McCarthy, Bob Richards and senior technical officer Geoff Kimpton. It was he who, while being towed underwater, all of a sudden, spotted a davit, and later what appeared to be an anchor from Stefano. The discovery of the Stefano wreck extended the number of scientists and experts from different fields interested in the case.
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