Exactly what did happen after the Walter Hood struck the reef in Wreck Bay on the night of 26 April 1870?
According to third mate William Tickler’s account, those aboard the Walter Hood first see other men on the beach on the morning of Friday 29 April. Who they are, and how they came to be there is a matter of dispute among locals who were living in the area at the time.
After the Illalong‘s rescue of the men aboard the Walter Hood, on 30 April 1870 the local coroner JV Wareham quickly convened a jury of five to hear depositions about the wrecking and the fate of the five men whose bodies had been washed ashore.
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.