December 05, 2012

Struth! Bottled History Resurfaces

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that a beachcombing couple in New Zealand have miraculously saved a note in a bottle that's been floating goodness-only-knows-where for the past three-quarters of a century…

Geoff Flood and Leanne McAlees found the bottle on Ninety Mile Beach in the country's far north earlier this month, and most amazing was that the note was still dry and readable even though the bottle's cork had been pushed back inside the bottle. "Another high tide and it could have been swamped and the note inside ruined and lost forever," said Mr Flood.

Dated March 17, 1936 – that's 76 years ago – the note was written on paper with a P&O company logo and a picture of its liner, SS Strathnaver that sailed between the UK and Australia. It was signed H.E. Hillbrick, and asked that if found it be forwarded, with details of where found and when, to Mr Hillbrick at an address in Leederville, Western Australia.

And although Mr Hillbrick has long since departed this world, Mr Flood tracked down a distant member of Herbert Ernest Hillbrick who said he was "very excited" about the find, but had no idea where his forebear may have tossed the bottle overboard between Australia and England.

And STRUTH can reveal that Mr Hillbrick was an employee of the Western Australian Railways, that he died in 1941, and that coincidentally the mother of his wife, Ethel Louise Porter migrated to Australia from, where else but, New Zealand… making for another of life's little coincidences.

(Photo shows Geoff Flood's son, Shayde aged 5, with bottle and note, and the late Herbert "Bert" Ernest Hillbrick and family.)

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