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The Fiji: a firsthand shipwreck account

magine being a 16-year-old apprentice on your first long voyage, 106 days out from Hamburg, Germany, in 1891, and just one day from the shelter of Port Phillip bay.

Th is was young Welshman Louis Evans, part of a 25-man crew aboard the 1400-tonne, three-masted barque, skippered by the experienced William Vickers. The cargo comprised pianos, sewing machines, toys, coiled wire, dynamite and hundreds of crates of bottled liquor. Just after midnight on Sunday 6 September, the Fiji ran aground just west of Moonlight Head in Victoria, a prominent landmark in the notorious Bass Strait.

Evans and his colleagues attempted a lifeboat escape across the 200 metres to the shore, but rough seas and heavy swell smashed the little crafts before they

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