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Boy finds 50-year-old message in a bottle washed up on a South Australian beach

AAP, July 18, 2019 7:00PM Kids News

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The ship Fairstar sails into Sydney with new migrants in February 1970. Paul Gilmore and his family travelled on this ship from the UK and Paul dropped the message in the bottle overboard in November 1969. media_cameraThe ship Fairstar sails into Sydney with new migrants in February 1970. Paul Gilmore and his family travelled on this ship from the UK and Paul dropped the message in the bottle overboard in November 1969.

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Fifty years after a boy dropped a message in a bottle into the ocean from a ship off the Australian coast, another boy has found the bottle and replied to the message.

Incredibly, the author of the original message has been found.

More incredibly, he doesn’t yet know what’s just happened because he’s on holiday on a cruise ship in the Baltic Sea and uncontactable.

Nine-year-old Jyah Elliot was fishing with his dad, Paul Elliot, on the west coast of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula when he found the bottle.

Inside the glass bottle was a message from Paul Gilmore, who described himself in the note as a 13-year-old English boy travelling on a ship along the southern Australian coast from Fremantle, WA, to Melbourne, Victoria.

The note is handwritten on paper with Sitmar Lines (the ship company name) at the top and is dated November 17, 1969.

In it Paul says he is travelling on board the Fairstar, a ship that brought many UK migrants to Australia during the 1960s.

The boy urges whoever finds the note to reply to him and gives an address in Mitcham, Melbourne, where he is going to live.

Jyah wrote a letter to the address.

In the meantime, the ABC tracked Paul down through family in Australia and the UK.

“It’s amazing, absolutely incredible,” Paul’s sister, Annie Crossland, told ABC. “He’ll be chuffed* to bits.”

Ms Crossland said that this is probably the first time Paul — who now lives back in the UK — has been on a ship since that 1969 voyage to Australia.

Paul’s younger brother, David Gilmore, told ABC their father decided to take the family to Australia in the hope it would lead to a better life.

“I think my dad had had too many winters working outside, building houses, and was told that Australia was the land of opportunity,” he said.

Historical Mercury Archives, File picture 27th October 1967, British migrants arrive in Hobart on board the Fairstar, Mr and Mrs P Schlander and family with Mr and Mrs Collighan and family, Negative Number G8426/1 media_cameraThousands of migrants came to live in Australia from the UK, many arriving on the Fairstar as the Gilmore family did in 1969. In this photo from October 27, 1967, Mr and Mrs P Schlander and family with Mr and Mrs Collighan and family arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, from the UK on the Fairstar.

David was only four at the time, but said he recognised his brother’s handwriting in the message.

“It’s really strange,” he said. “I’m looking at the message now and yeah, I can see it’s my brother’s writing — he’s obviously a bit younger then.

“I’m amazed. It obviously brings back fantastic memories of moving to Australia.”

Paul’s siblings* will tell him about Jyah’s find when he returns from his holiday.

Oceanographer* David Griffin said the bottle could not have remained afloat for 50 years off the south coast because “the ocean never stays still”.

Mr Griffin suspected that the bottle had been buried on a beach for years, then refloated by a storm.

“If it had been dropped in anywhere in the ocean somewhere south of Australia, then there’s no way it’s going to stay actually at sea moving around for more than a year or two,” he told news agency Associated Press.

GLOSSARY

  • chuffed: really pleased
  • siblings: brothers and sisters
  • oceanographer: ocean scientist

EXTRA READING

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Daphne the giant duck rescued at sea

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where was Jyah when he found the bottle?
  2. What is the Fairstar?
  3. Why was the Gilmore family travelling to Australia in 1969?
  4. Why doesn’t Paul know the bottle has been found?
  5. What does an oceanographer do?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Write a conversation
What an incredible story! Paul Gilmore’s siblings believe that he will be “chuffed to bits” when he finds out about his message being found.

Write a phone conversation between Paul Gilmore and Jyah Elliot when he returns from his trip. What might they say to each other? What questions might they ask? What do you imagine has happened in Paul’s life since his 1969 trip? Why has he not been on a ship since then? You can use details from the article and your imagination to help you write this conversation.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
Write a poem from the bottle’s perspective as it bobs along in the ocean’s currents. What is it thinking? What might it see and hear? How is it feeling?

This is an example of how you might start your poem:

Message in a bottle, bobbing on the sea.
Message in a bottle, who will find me?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever found a message from an unknown person? Have you ever left a message for someone to find?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in history