Historical information

The five types of nails include a stamped steel nail made for wooden flooring; four copper nails used for boat building found at various locations on the island; two steel nails removed from the lantern room door during restoration in 2002 which possibly came with the Chance Bros. lantern room kit delivered in 1862; three galvanised steel nails used to pin the railway track to sleepers and decking on the jetty (the rail track carried a small trolley for unloading stores from supply ships); and a square copper nail found on the rocky shore on Tullaberga Island close to the location of the Monumental City wreck of 1853. The huge American steamer, Monumental City, was wrecked on 15 May 1853. Built in 1850, the ship was the first screw-propulsion steamer to cross the Pacific and was heading back to Sydney after dropping off Californians heading for the Victorian goldfields. Thirty-seven lives were lost, including the owner of the ship, Peter Strobel. A medal was awarded by Sydney residents to Charles Plummer who swam ashore with a line from the wreck. The tragedy renewed the urgency for a lighthouse on Gabo Island, and in 1862 when this was achieved an obelisk was erected as a memorial to those who perished. That year, Victorian PWD architect and designer of the lightstation buildings, Charles Maplestone, gave the following instructions: ‘You may remove the remains of the poor unfortunate shipwrecked of the Monumental City to the site on Gabo you propose but take scrupulous care to collect all the remains and inter them decently under the monument. Pray save any relics’.246 Heritage Victoria has 39 artefacts listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act (S473) with a clear provenance to the Monumental City.


While the copper nail has no documented provenance, it still has contributory significance as part of a diverse assemblage of relics that help to interpret the history of the Gabo Island Lightstation and the numerous shipwrecks that have occurred in its vicinity since the mid nineteenth century.

Physical description

.1 Steel nail - flat. Stamped. This type of nail was used for secret nailing of flooring. Source of this nail is unknown.
.2 Copper nails. This type of nail was used for boat building. Found at various locations around island.
.3 Steel nails. Extracted from lantern room door during restoration 2002.
.4 Galvanised steel nails. Used to pin railway track to timber sleepers and decking on jetty. Rail track carried a small trolley used during the unloading of stores from supply ships.
.5. Copper nail square. This nail was found on the rocky shore line on Tullaberga Island close to the location of the wreck of the "Monumental City" wrecked May 1853. Nail found in June 2000.