Flotsam Put To Good Use
The home of Vincenzo Fazio, now known as “Keepsake Cottage” At the right is his fish shop built from flotsam recovered from the “Empress of India” wrecked on Tuncurry bar 1900.
On July 23, 1900 the 62-ton schooner “Empress of India” was on one of her many coastal runs carrying produce, cattle, pigs, maize and timber. The vessel called into Cape Hawke harbour to pick up an additional load of timber and was on her way out to sea over the bar on a racing tide heading into a vicious chop. As she crossed the bar she was swept side-on onto the sand spit off the Tuncurry shore. She rolled and with the heavy seas began to break up.
The cargo, much of which was sawn timber lay strewn along the beach, now flotsam, which in those days became the property of whoever recovered it. The timber was collected by locals including Vince Fazio who used the salvaged timber to build a shop on the Kent Street side of his home. This was the first fish shop in Tuncurry.
The house still exists, standing on the corner of Kent and Manning St. and is one of the oldest untouched buildings in Tuncurry, the shop having evolved into a skillion add-on at the rear.
Tuncurry’s Working Waterfront local history project is a heritage mosaic due to be installed in John Wright Park in June. The artwork has been designed to create a visual representation of the early industries that utilized the waterfront site and the vital role they played in forming the foundations of the town and community.