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.
So what did happen to all the wreckage from the Walter Hood that was taken from the beach by local scavengers?
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.
At the dedication of the Walter Hood memorial cairn near Wreck Bay in 1927, which took place 57 years after the wreck, an extraordinary thing happened. Robert E.F.Williams, one of the last survivors of the wreck, made a startling and disturbing allegation.
In compiling this historical account of the wrecking of the Walter Hood on 26 April 1870 to commemorate its 150th anniversary, I have referred to as much primary source material as possible.