© Lesley Silvester and Mike Murray
Much of the research into the history of Australia tends to reflect the myth of the role of the bush and interior as shaping our continent since European settlement. In the introduction to his book 'Island Nation,' Frank Broeze declares '...the role of the sea as an integral and vital part of our national experience has remained largely unexplored.'
In March 1998 Lesley Silvester commenced a project which helps to redress that imbalance. Under the supervision of Dr. Michael McCarthy, Curator of Maritime Archaeology at the Western Australian Maritime Museum, she produced, along with technical assistance from Mike Murray, Stage 1 of the Australian Contact Shipwreck Database.
Stage 1 contains all known European and Asian shipwrecks around Western Australia's coast and islands where the survivors had indigenous social contact. That year was spent vacuuming the shipwreck files at the WA Maritime Museum. This process unearthed a rich source of historical stories which made such an impression that Mike and Lesley wrote a number of songs and produced a CD called 'Strangers on the Shore'.
This article describes two of the incidents which inspired them, one from early last century, the other from the 1930's.