Mystery figurehead returns for city visit
By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au
A MYSTERY figurehead believed to have come to grief outside of Gladstone in the 1800s has returned to the city for a six-month stay.
The ship's ornament was found in a deep tidal cave at Keppel Bay more than 40 years ago by Jim Byriel, who was then just a lad, and he's had it ever since.
Mr Byriel, who now lives in Bowen, was offered $10,000 for it a number of years ago, but refused the offer. He also refused a request to donate it the Townsville Maritime Museum.
Mr Byriel said attempts to identify the vessel from which the figurehead came or its date had so far not been successful, although the Environmental Protection Agency's research indicated it was made from one of three common pines.
'I've been told that the type of 'jewellery' carved on the figurehead possibly dated it to the 1830s,' he said.
'But it might be older than that, perhaps off a Dutch vessel.'
The Observer introduced the Gladstone Maritime History Society's president Ced Janson and Mr Byriel.
They agreed to display the figurehead at the museum for six months before it was returned to Mr Byriel.
Mr Janson said he would continue Mr Byriel's efforts to trace the history of the figurehead.
He said he knew wreckage from ships that came to grief on the reef ended up in the Keppel Bay area.