STORIES WRITTEN ABOUT THE KONING WILLEM II
Sea tragedies, because of their human interest, are usually widely reported. The wrecking of the Koning Willem II, as we have seen, was no exception. After the initial vivid reports in the local newspapers the incident appeared to have been all but forgotten.
The next mention of the incident is to be found in the South Australian Parliamentary Papers of 1875 No.22. Here we find a report from a Commission appointed to inquire into the subject of a railway construction in the south-east of South Australia. The remarks in the appendix are worthy of a closer study for the reason that, the cause of the incident is given but no adverse comments are mentioned regarding the condition of the vessel!
In August, 1933 the tragedy was once again in the news, when the Adelaide Chronicle, in a series of ‘real life stories of South Australia’, published a story with the heading “Forgotten Sea Tragedy of Guichen Bay”. This article was included in a chapter of the book “Ecstacy and Agony of Guichen Bay” by Wilf Sprengel, published in 1986.
The first writer to mention a great many details of the tragedy was Kathleen Bermingam in her book “Gateway to the South East”, a story of Robetown and the Guichen Bay district, published in 1961. Several years later, in 1968, she wrote a series of booklets called “Eleven Tales of Robe” in which she mentions the Koning Willem II as well.
Well known maritime author, Jack Loney, writes in several of his books about the wrecking of the Koning Willem II. “Wrecks on the South Coast of South Australia, 1975, “Australian Shipwrecks”, volume II 1851 -1871 and “Wrecks at Robe”, published in 1979, are amongst them.
“Shipwrecks in South Australia” (1836 – 1875) written by Ronald Parsons in 1981 also has a page about the tragedy.
“Old Days and Old Ways” by Alexander Hutchison Barrowman, 1971 also describes the tragedy, it includes a lengthy poem about the Koning Willem II.
Other writers mentioning the Koning Willem II in their books are:
Geoffrey Aslin, “South East Shipwrecks from Canoes to Steamers”, 1988
Peter Christopher, “Famous Shipwrecks of South Australia”, 1989
Ellen Mary Cawthorne, “The Long Journey”, 1974
Robert Ingpen, “Robe a Portrait of the past”, 1975
Two further booklets with detailed information about the Koning Willem II, were published by the State Heritage Branch, Department of Environment and Planning, Adelaide, South Australia in 1990 and 1991.
The first report, “Shipwrecks sites in the South East of South Australia 1838–1915” was written by Paul Clark in 1989. The second report, “Artefacts from Shipwrecks in the South-East 1851 –1951” was written by Sarah Kenderdine in 1991.
All writings have been included for information and comparison.