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Sydney beaches are kept scrupulously clean, any storm detritus quickly scooped and taken away before anyone gets a chance to have a looksee at what the wind blew in overnight

Not so up here where the Richmond flows into the Pacific, a place where nobody is ever short of firewood. Picking a slow path through the piled driftwood can take hours and every now and then a man finds something unexpected, in this case an object so fragile it could only have survived the journey from its origins  if it came downriver, swept away by the outgoing flood tide, surviving the boisterous seas at the river mouth before being blown ashore.

Perhaps a youngster was responsible for building it, some kid living by the side of the river up Coraki way, or further west where the river branches into hundreds of streams. Though by the look of the bindings the young fellow might have had grandad looking over his shoulder.

Perhaps the family had been building them for years. Building them so well they could almost survive their journey to the sea.

Like this one.


The wreck: it’s mast snapped in two and nearly all the rigging lost, the hull made of a palm frond husk.


The stern: its rudder blade and tiller post torn away, the tiller itself, a length of stout wire connected to the rudder still works, all the rigging is tangled, the taffrail bindings still intact and what looks like a sea anchor is still attached to the steering gear.

The real thing ..


Gumung derrka. John Bulun Bulun and Paul Pascoe bind the stern. Image: Dianne Moon / ANMM Collection 00017960.

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