Little remains of the MV Sygna on the 40th anniversary of the storm that left it wrecked on Stockton Beach, but the Sygna is just one in over 200 vessels that have met their end there.
The port of Newcastle used to be described by mariners as a ‘hellhole’ with over 200 vessels having been wrecked in and around the mouth of the Hunter River.
Numerous lives have been lost in our local waters; the wreck of the Cawarra in 1866 is still considered one of Australia’s worst maritime disasters with only one of the 61 passengers and crew on board the vessel surviving the wreck. Many of the victims of the Cawarra disaster were buried in a mass grave in the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral.
And in spite of huge advances in technology and major changes to the port to improve its safety, Newcastle waters continue to take a toll.
The 1974 storm that claimed the Norwegian vessel MV Sygna caused the closure of both Newcastle and Sydney ports and major damage was caused along a large part of the coast.
While little remains of the vast majority of Newcastle’s shipwrecks, Deb Mastello from the Newcastle Maritime Centre jokes that there is so much of the Sygna held within the museum’s collection that they could rebuild it, “Sometimes it feels like we can refloat her – we certainly have a lot from the Sygna,”