Message thrown overboard 50 years ago washes up, sparking search for author Paul Gilmore

| 18.07,19. 04:05 AM |

Message thrown overboard 50 years ago washes up, sparking search for author Paul Gilmore

Photo: Paul Gilmore threw the letter overboard from the Sitmar Line's Fairstar in 1969. (Supplied: Carla Elliott)

Jyah Elliott holding the letter
Photo: Jyah Elliott found the letter while fishing with his father. (Supplied: Carla Elliott)

A decades-old message in a bottle has been found by a young boy during a fishing trip with his dad on a remote South Australian beach, prompting a search for its author.

South Australian student Jyah Elliott found the letter, written in 1969 by a Paul Gilmore, who said he was emigrating from England to Melbourne.

Mr Elliott was at Talia Beach on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula with his father Paul on Tuesday, when he made the discovery.

"I'm from England and I'm travelling to Melbourne, Australia," the letter read.

"We are 1,000 miles east of Fremantle, Western Australia."

The letter listed an address in Mitcham, Victoria, where Mr Gilmore was moving to, before asking the reader to "please reply".

Dated November 17, 1969, it appeared to have been sent from onboard the TSS Fairstar, a ship which brought so-called "Ten Pound Poms", who made the journey from England to Australia between 1945 and 1972.

The man would be 63 years old this year, if the letter is accurate.

An unexpected discovery

Jyah, who is nine, found the bottle in dunes while his father Paul was fishing near Talia Beach, between Elliston beach and Venus Bay.

"It was about six inches, it had a white, round lid, it was see-through and made out of glass," Mr Elliott said.

At first, he thought the letter was a fake.

"Jyah wanted to open it, and so he opened it and tried to get it out, but it was a bit damp … I couldn't get it in my fingers, so we had to break it."

His wife Carla Elliott said her son was thrilled with the find.

"He was so excited, he said he found a message in a bottle from 1869," she said.

"I said, '1869? Are you sure about that?' He goes 'oh no, 1969'."

Jyah has written a reply to the letter, which the family have mailed to the Melbourne address Mr Gilmore wrote he would be moving to.

The family has also turned to more modern means to find Mr Gilmore.

Ms Elliott posted the letter to Facebook, which has so far generated hundreds of comments.

Clever online investigators have already uncovered what appears to be Mr Gilmore's emigration card from archives.

It showed the Fairstar ship left England from Southampton.

Ms Elliott said she hoped someone who knew Mr Gilmore would step forward.

"I was annoyed with my husband that he didn't take a photo of the actual bottle when he found it," Ms Elliott said.

In 2018, a message in a bottle was found dated June 12, 1886, which said it had been thrown overboard from the German sailing barque Paula, 950 kilometres from the WA coast.

Another one was found, also in WA, in 2017 — although it was from 35 years ago.


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