The Tragic Voyage of the
Brig Maria, 1872

"Who's Who?"
Passengers on the 'Maria'. The ship was wrecked on Bramble Reef in 1872.
The last survivor, Dr. Tate, died in 1934.
George Whiting Crommelin, likely pictured in lower right,
is standing in front of the long-bearded chap who is probably Peter Haydon
- a man whose long beard intrigued the black aborigines.
Picture source

- a survivor on Boat 3, the smallest of the 3 life
boats, and amongst the last to leave the sticken vessel.
Peter Maiden's book ShipWreck is a thorough account of the Maria tragedy.


George Whiting Crommelin was amongst a group of 80 adventurous young men who planned to sail to Papua, New Guinea in order to establish a colony there and to exploit that island's reputed riches in gold and timber which were yet untapped. Lucrative trade with the local natives, Australia and China was envisioned and the lure to 'get rich quick' was irresistible. Each member having paid 10 pounds to join the venture, the men formed the New Guinea Prospecting Expedition (NGPE) which purchased a tired old vessel, the Maria for 700 pounds to get them to their destination which was the Fly River in Papua. When this decrepit vessel ran into rough weather during cyclone season, the expedition came to a tragic end with much loss of life. George Crommelin was one of the fortunate survivors.

A Composite Chronology - by Miff Crommelin
gleaned from the following sources...


George Whiting Crommelin's Memoir

W.F. Forster, solicitor - a survivor on the large raft
Source: Nautical Magazine, Vol. 41, 1872

(Auckland N.Z.) Daily Southern Cross - March 20, 1872 article

(Auckland N.Z.) Daily Southern Cross - March 25, 1872 article

New York Times - May 6, 1872

Queenslander Newspaper Series - 1903-4

John Henry Parnell (died on Raft 2)

Australian Wikipedia

First Attempts at Settlement in New Guinea

Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland