Historical information

This timber fragment is from the shipwreck of the SCHOMBERG (1855). The bow of the ship broke off after an unsuccessful salvage attempt to tow her off the Peterborough reef. At the wreck-site the submerged hull points north towards the beach but the front section is missing. Parts of the bow have been carried away by the eastward bearing ocean currents and have come ashore on the western coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
Don Charlwood writes in Wrecks & Reputations (1977) that in 1871 “a piece of wreckage over 20 feet long and 12 feet wide was brought out” by land from its remote location at Tauperika Creek. In 1875 “an even larger section was brought out by sea”. It was suggested at the time that these relics of a large wooden sailing ship were from the wreck of the SCHOMBERG some 20 years earlier on the Victorian coast. “To corroborate the theory”, Charlwood continues, “a piece was sent to Halls of Aberdeen [the ship’s builders in Scotland]. They identified it as having come from the ship they had launched with such pride in 1852.”
Charlwood, whose great-grandparents were passengers on the SCHOMBERG’s fateful maiden voyage, acquired some samples of the wreckage timber recovered in New Zealand, and brought them back with him to Australia. In 1976 “comparison was made of timbers from the New Zealand find and timber from the remains of the hull at Peterborough. They proved to be from the same ship.”
The extraordinary journey of these pieces of wood from the once mighty clipper ship SCHOMBERG came to an end in 1984, when they were given to Flagstaff Hill by the author, and reunited with other shipwreck timbers and copper bolts from the vessel that are on display at the Maritime Village.


The shipwreck of the SCHOMBERG is of State significance - Victorian Heritage Register S612

Physical description

The artefact is a small piece of wood that was broken from the timbers of the shipwreck of the SCHOMBERG (1855) and carried by the eastern currents to New Zealand (1875). It has 2 drilled holes that show faint screw marks and no metallic residue (possibly for patent treenails). The top surface is rounded, of a dark colour, and showing clear grains that have been worn smooth by the action of the sea. There is a reddish stain on the timber where breakage has occurred. The wood appears to have been strong in its original condition but is now light to lift and soft and crumbly at its exposed edges. The artefact is in fragile condition.