Stirling Castle (brig)

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Artist's impression of the shipwreck

The Stirling Castle was a 351-ton brig built in 1829 named after Stirling castle in Scotland, under the command of a Captain James Fraser.[1] It ran aground on 25 May 1836 on Swaines Reef (near present-day Rockhampton, Queensland) while travelling from Sydney to Singapore. The surviving members of the crew, including Fraser and his wife Eliza, managed to journey to the nearby K'gari Island, where they were captured by hostile Australian Aborigines. James Fraser died while in their captivity (accounts differ as to whether he died due to starvation, or as a result of being speared), but some members of his crew survived and were later rescued by a Lt. Charles Otter.[2] Eliza Fraser later returned to England where her services as a storyteller proved to be very much in demand. In memory of Fraser, K'gari Island was renamed Fraser Island after this incident.[3]

Before its fateful voyage, the Stirling Castle had sailed from Greenock, Scotland to the colony of Sydney in 1831 with John Dunmore Lang's "mechanics" with the intention to build the Australian College and the founding members of the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts. One family that was on board this trip was the Petrie family that became a prominent Queensland family after arriving in Moreton Bay penal settlement in 1837.

In late December 2015, YouTube personality Stuart Ashen reviewed a bottle of olives that had allegedly been salvaged from the shipwreck.[4] While the video refers to them as being 130 years old, he has recently pointed out that they are in fact 180 years old, which coincides with the date that the ship went down.


  1. ^ Jettens, Jan. "Stirling Castle (+1836)". Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Williams, Fred (2002). Princess K'Gari's Fraser Island: a history of Fraser Island. pp. 31–35. ISBN 0-9581034-0-2. 
  3. ^ Schaffer, Kay (1995). In the wake of first contact: the Eliza Fraser stories. CUP Archive. p. 4. ISBN 0-521-49577-6. 
  4. ^ Ashen, Stuart. ""130 Year Old Olives"". YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 

Coordinates: 21°01′42.3″S 152°54′35.2″E / 21.028417°S 152.909778°E / -21.028417; 152.909778