Painting of the Fanny Nicholson on the Pearl River, Canton by local artist c1858


3 Masted Barque


Original: Nicholson & Rutherford, Sunderland; William H Andrews & Co. Skipper: Captain W Gaffin


Iron framed timber clad


23 November 1872


285 tons length 35.66m beam 7.77m draft 4.48m


The wreck lies parallel to the beach, and is almost always covered in sand and rarely visible. Occasionally the sand shifts enough for the upper part of the wreck to be seen in 1-2 m of water very close to the shore. H.L. Hartman writing in 1975 stated that some 50 years previously an exceptionally low tide combined with considerable scouring away of sand had uncovered a large amount of the hull. He saw a stern post sticking up about 6 feet (1.8 m) which he described as being of steel. He later referred to this ‘steel wreck’ to distinguish it from the nearby wooden wreck of the whaler Runnymede. Over the years this reference has led to claims of there being both a steel or iron wreck and a timber one at Goode Beach. As noted above, the Fanny Nicholson was composite built, i.e. with an iron keel, stem post, stern post and frames but planked with wood. There appears to be a substantial amount of the below waterline section of the hull buried in the sand.


1855 by John Pile shipyard at Hartlepool, UK


Off Goode Beach, Frenchman’s Bay, Albany.


The Fanny Nicholson sailed from Hobart on 20 April 1872 under the command of Captain W. Gaffin with a crew of about 25, to hunt for whales along the south coast of Australia, and by November was in the Albany area. Various contemporary newspaper reports have the amount of whale oil on board as being about 50 tons. The vessel and cargo were only partly insured. On Thursday 21 November 1872 the crew of the Fanny Nicholson struck a whale out at sea and, after tying it alongside, entered Frenchman Bay. They anchored with two anchors down prior to cutting and trying the whale. The following night a heavy gale arose from the south-east and the Barque parted both anchor cables and ‘ship and whale went ashore’ All the crew got ashore safely.