When news of the Walter Hood shipwrecked finally reached Milton in the early hours of Friday 29 April the reaction was immediate. Several men quickly gathered provisions to help the survivors and rode through the floodwaters to reach Wreck Bay. But many others followed, with other things on their mind…
For 18 years, each summer-autumn the Walter Hood had been a welcome sight in Sydney Harbour. As a colony still 30 years before Federation, the ties between NSW and England were still very strong. Most settlers still had family back ‘home’ and waited for each inbound ship, hopeful of news from family and friends.
As shipping agents and owners are not in the business of salvage, the wreck of the Walter Hood itself was quickly sold at auction on 2 May 1870 by Stubbs and Co for £95. However the flotsam that had washed ashore was owned by the insurance companies, and they were determined to retrieve and sell as much as they could.
By the 1920s, the original Walter Hood graves had gone through several bushfires, severely damaging the inscribed slabs, and the high tide mark was gradually encroaching on the site. A group of men led by James Murray of Conjola decided it was time to move the burials to a safer site with a new memorial cairn covering the graves.