Aboriginal Land Council Claims Ownership of Grounded Sydney to Hobart Yacht

A drifting racing yacht that washed ashore on a remote island off Tasmania has been successfully salvaged in one piece, preventing pollution. However, the vessel’s saga is not over: the yacht went aground on Aboriginal land, and the local Aboriginal council believes that it has a claim to ownership of the vessel.

On December 28, during the annual Sydney to Hobart Race, the yacht Huntress struck an unknown object and lost steering at a position 80 nm off the east coast of Tasmania. All members of her crew were safely evacuated by police first responders, and the vessel was left to drift while awaiting a salvage tow. It was never picked up, and it drifted north and washed ashore a week later on Christmas Beach, Cape Barren Island.

The island is also known as truwana (lowercase) to the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, and it is the only section of the state to have a full-time Aboriginal population living on their own land. After the grounding, the Land Council expressed serious concern that the Huntress might break up in the surf, spilling fuel and spreading debris on a pristine beach, and it encouraged the vessel owners and salvors to carry out a “swift, safe and successful” removal.

The boat was salvaged successfully on Sunday night and towed away, underway once more for a safe harbour in Tasmania. However, after the removal, a new disagreement arose with the Land Council: chairman Michael Mansell told ABC Australia that the yacht had been removed without permission and that the owner owes a payment of one-third of the vessel’s value.

“The Huntress has washed up on the shores of Aboriginal land on Cape Barren and that makes that vessel the property of Aboriginal people,” said Mansell. “That’s always the Aboriginal law.”

He cited seven cases dating back to 1840 in which the island’s original inhabitants had taken possession of wrecked vessels belonging to settlers or European interests.

However, the local Cape Barren Island Aboriginal Association was not aware of this precedent at the time of the grounding and did not apply it when salvors asked for permission to remove the vessel.

Conventional salvage law does not support the Land Council’s claim, maritime lawyer John Kavanagh told ABC: title to the vessel remains with the owner, though a salvor can claim payment for certain services rendered.

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  • Alan Foyle January 12, 2023   Reply →

    They have got to be joking! They drain the taxpayers of millions of dollars a year and now they want to claim a vessel lost at sea. I think the Tasmanian solution in the early days of settlement was the better option. The caravan park I go to has been banned from going to the beach by some obnoxious Aboriginal Land Council because they wont let them shower in the parks amenities. Why should they? I don’t to want to share a shower area with some intoxicated grub. And what gives these racist blacks the right to dictate to Australians? I wipe my ass on that black, red and yellow rag they display. Never my flag from now to eternity. About time Australians got some kahunahs and challenged these grubs on the take-over of our country. Will fight this as long as my ass points to the ground.

    “Welcome to Country” – you can shove that up your ass too.

  • Glenn Wiseman January 12, 2023   Reply →

    Ditto !!!!!

  • ALAN MCKENZIE January 12, 2023   Reply →

    Totally agree , I am a native Aussie and l am white !

    Welcome to country ,,what a crock of shit !

  • Pete Lieftink January 13, 2023   Reply →

    How many years do we as Australians have to say sorry for things that happened 250 years ago.. as Alan spoke about (above), another of the Koala protected species minority dictating to the majority of other Aussies, about claims that ‘supposedly’ happened over 180 years ago.
    It’s about time ‘their’ benefits fell into line with mainstream Aussies and the Handouts Stop being paid. Successive generations of governments continue this BS line and we have to follow.

  • Alan Foyle January 13, 2023   Reply →

    I hark back to my disabled mother who was “over the moon” about a two fifths of bugger all increase in her pension. She could afford to buy a cosmetic item she wanted. I supplemented her pension to make her life more enjoyable. She worked her entire life and never applied for a Centrelink assistance claim. She still looked after herself. OK, not a life or death item but something an 88 year old held important in her life.

    Yet some blood sucking Redfern “Indigenous person” will get his/her bills for everything including their toilet paper or are they still using gum leaves paid for? WTF is going on in the country? What is an Aboriginal? The census is now confused because so many “aboriginals” have come out from under their rocks and declared their First Nation background. I doubt very much that the extra “benefits” they receive would bolster this number (sarc). I am confident none of our First Nation people would commit a fraud on Centrelink as to falsely claim benefits they were not entitled to. My ancestors came out on the Second Fleet. They developed this country to what it is now. Don’t welcome me to my country my ancestors turned from a shithouse into a country to be proud of.

  • Steve January 24, 2023   Reply →

    Maybe an invasion of this island and ‘remove’ the problem would be in order.

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