The history of Coolangatta on the Queensland border is entwined with the Shoalhaven settlement of the same name.
It dates back 174 years when Alexander Berry had a topsail schooner built by shipwright John Blinkcell.
Named Coolangatta after Berry's estate, the 88-ton vessel was 63 feet long, 17-ft 3-in at the beam and 9-ft 5-in deep when it was registered in 1844. It was designed to transport substantial amounts of cargo that would be stacked on the deck.
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During 1844 it carried Tasmanian wheat from Launceston to Sydney, and later that year worked as far away as New Zealand.
Berry became aware of the volume of work available on the North Coast, and after refitting in early 1846, he chartered the Coolangatta to a Mr Sutton. With large quantities of cedar and pine available, he planned to operate between Sydney, Newcastle and Moreton Bay (Brisbane).
On its fateful journey later that year, the vessel left Moreton Bay on August 18, intending to load cedar in the Tweed River.
With a sand bar at the mouth preventing entrance and four other ships already grounded there, the Coolangatta anchored on the north side of Point Danger and Captain Steele went ashore.
Left aboard was the crew and two passengers, prisoners George Craig and William Lewis who were being transported to Sydney.
Craig had been sentenced by a Brisbane court to an iron gang for stealing clothing, while Lewis had been given three months' jail for a breach of the Hired Servants Act.
The captain supervised the rafting of timber out to the waiting ship, a practice that had been developed at Seven Mile Beach not far from Berry's estate.
This work was well under way when gale-force winds struck the coast and after a short time the vessel parted from its anchors and was driven ashore. Everyone on the ship swam for their lives, with Craig's irons being knocked off so that he could swim.
The small party walked around the beach to the pilot station at Amity, with Captain Steele and his crew taking a steamer to Sydney while the two prisoners were returned to Brisbane.
Blinkcell travelled north to supervise repairs to the Coolangatta, and a November 25 report revealed that it was on rollers, with every prospect of being launched. Just when this was to be done, another wind hit the scene and put it in a worse position. Filled with two metres of sand and with no funds available for a further salvage attempt, the schooner was stripped and abandoned.
Berry subsequently claimed compensation of £1000 from the General Assurance Company, but had to take his case to Sydney Supreme Court before payment was made.
A creek in the vicinity of the wreck became known as Coolangatta, and the name was used by surveyor Henry Schneider in 1883 when he was preparing a plan for the new town near Point Danger.
The first land sale took place the following year, with the 108 allotments being of a quarter and half-acre in size.
The Queensland Government Gazette initially called it Coolangabba, but while this was a typographical error, it served as a reminder of the many variations in spelling before it evolved to Coolangatta in the Shoalhaven.
Although visible for many years, the wreck eventually became covered in sand.
It was discovered 30 feet below the surface by rutile miners in 1954, and it was completely uncovered by Cyclone Pam some 20 years later.
Souvenir hunters removed much of what remained, but part of it was used in a sculpture presented by Gold Coast council to the Shoalhaven Shire in 1975.