The reefs were discovered in 1812 by the Frederick. The reefs were described in the ship's log:
the north-east extremity of which is laid down in latitude 20 degrees 44 minutes, and longitude 150 degrees 32 minutes; it is of semi-circular shape, and extends as far south as 21 degrees 2 minutes, and appears to be nearly twenty miles wide.
The Frederick was a wooden ship of 210 tons. It was under the command of Captain John Williams when it left Hobart, Tasmania on 27 June 1818 bound for Mauritius. It was carrying sheep and cattle but these died from heat at the Percy Islands off the east coast of Queensland. The captain ordered the crew to collect spars to take to Mauritius instead and it was at this time that the ship was wrecked at Cape Flinders in August 1818. Two boats were launched and shortly after the ship broke in two. In one boat were the master, two men and two boys while the long boat carried the remaining twenty-two of the crew.
Williams and the four other crew were rescued by the ship Duke of Wellington which had been travelling with the Frederick for much of its journey. The long boat was not seen again and it can only be assumed that the twenty-three surviving crew drowned or were killed by aborigines. Williams had sailed with a sixteen-year-old girl whom he had bought from her father, much to the scandal of the colonial community. The girl may have been lost when the long-boat was swamped, or may have been captured by aborigines as there were rumours later of a white woman having been seen with aborigines in the area.
- Vol. II has title: India directory, or, Directions for sailing to and from the East Indies, China, Australia, Cape of Good Hope, Brazil, and the interjacent ports... 4th ed. London, 1836
- Encyclopaedia of Australian Shipwrecks
- Australian Shipwrecks - vol 1 1622-1850, Charles Bateson, AH and AW Reed, Sydney, 1972, ISBN 0-589-07112-2 p57
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