A beautiful Bay devastated by Disappointment 186 years ago

Heidi Weitjens

A stunning beach with innocent curves stretching out for 1.6 km along the base of a Bay facing North, receives refracted Westerly swell from Cape Wickham.

A short drive branching off Cape Wickham Road leads to the beach.  There sits a picnic table and chairs alongside stairs leading down to a truly beautiful white Sandy shoreline naturally made for relaxing, photographing walking, swimming and surfing. 

A short drive branching off Cape Wickham Road leads to Disappointment Bay beach. There sits a picnic table and chairs alongside stairs leading down Disappointment Bay, King Island, Tasmania

Our visitors on King Island, particularly Golfers visiting Cape Wickham Golf Links, ask Heidi Weitjens "Why is it called Disappointment Bay?" So we explain the Story about Neva the Ship, tragically wrecked on a Reef 186 years ago.

*****  I share this story with you my Friends written by: ABC Northern Tasmania Article and Mr Whatley Photo - by Rick Eaves.  Additionally, facts sourced from Beach Safe website.  

Standing with Journalist Rick Eaves of ABC is a well respected and dedicated Local King Islander, Mr Dale Whatley who shares the story he grew up with Mr Eaves, about the Neva. 

Mr Whatley gazes North-West towards Navarine Reef, the place where tragedy struck 186 years prior the real reason why this Coastline did so disappoint.

"That's where the Neva Ship was wrecked," Mr Whatley said quietly.

"150 Irish convict women along with 35 of their own children, and another nine free settler women with 22 more children.”  239 people were on board Neva, of which 224 perished. 

”It was a cruel fate. That's where the 'Disappointment' comes from."

Disappointment Bay, a curving 1.7 km wide North-facing Bay, is bordered by Reefs; the Eastern granite base of Cape Wickham in the West and the low granite Rocky Point to the East.

On the 8th of January, Neva the 327-tonne Barque left Cork in Ireland, and struck the unchartered King Island Reef on the 14th of May 1835.

Clinging to flotsam, 22 people were washed ashore alive, 7 died soon after.

"A party of Sealers took the Survivors to their Camp.  They lit green bush at the edge of the water to signal (with smoke) a boat in," Mr Whatley said.

Dale Whatley King Islander at Disappointment Bay sharing the tragic Shipwreck of the Neva

"It's beautiful but sad too. Many of those women and children washed up here and were just buried in the dunes," Mr Whatley reflects "Nothing marked. They're just part of this place."

The Westerly winds have blown sand from the beach up to 1.3 km across the rear of Rocky Point reaching the shoreline to the South of the point.

Most of the dunes are now well vegetated and stable and a small Creek drains across the Western end of the dunes and onto the beach.

May all their Souls forever rest in peace.  hh♡

*****Source: ABC Northern Tasmania - Rick Eaves 

*****Source: Beach Safe - Org.au Website


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