Local author Nathan Smith has written a book on the TSS Maheno.
Local author Nathan Smith has written a book on the TSS Maheno. Contributed

Gympie author releases book on the wreck of the Maheno

AS THE iconic Maheno wreck crumbles into the sand with every storm season, a new book by local author Nathan Smith strives to commemorate the eventual passing of this great ship on the wilds of Fraser Island's eastern beach.

The book is called The Long Life and Slow Death of the T.S.S Maheno.

The Maheno wreck's accessibility, along with its good luck to have ground in one of the world's most beautiful locations, have made it one of the most photographed shipwrecks on the globe.

However, this Fraser Island icon is rapidly succumbing to the shifting sands and pounding surf.

Each storm season sees the now fragile structure vanishing at an accelerated rate every year.

The wreck has been good to the region, helping to generate tourism dollars for more than eighty years while working its way into the hearts (and yarns) of most who stop to contemplate her salt crusted bones.

Local author Nathan Smith has written a book on the TSS Maheno.
Local author Nathan Smith has written a book on the TSS Maheno. Contributed

Mr Smith's new 150-page photographic essay is the result of a 25-year obsession with the Maheno by the respected maritime artist and historian.

Starting in 1992 with a hitchhiking adventure to the wreck in his late teens, an instant connection with the rusting hulk planted a seed which soon evolved into endless interviews with 'old time' locals good enough to share their history (and photographs) with this over-enthusiastic 'kid'.

He also began collecting relics from the ship, purchased from the vessel in 1936/1937.

These pieces were stripped and sold by the Japanese crew of the Maheno to recoup salvage costs and lighten the vessel.

Many pieces had remained in the same families for decades.

Years rolled on and life sometimes pushed the Maheno to the backburner, but the collection of photos and artefacts slowly grew, and the now expansive collection has been the feature of exhibitions in 2005, 2010 and 2015.

Mr Smith also consulted with the Queensland government, helping interpret a 3D survey of the wreck site in 2015.

Nathan's long-term mission is to develop a permanent local Maritime Museum to celebrate the Cooloola /Fraser Coast's long and often treacherous relationship with the sea.

It is his hope that this book may help start conversations about how we wish to remember this grand old ship and manage our heritage.

The Long Life and Slow death of the T.S.S Maheno contains more than 180 photos and illustrations, many previously unpublished and covers the ship's long (and tumultuous) service history, Hospital Ship service, grounding and failed salvage attempts, the cultural significance of the wreck's place in Fraser Island tourism and rounding off with an appendix, featuring some of the hundreds of fine furnishings and fittings that still survive from the wreck.

Printed on quality 150gsm gloss stock, this rich full colour volume will make a fitting keepsake for anyone that has ever explored (or fished from) the now restricted wreck.

The book is currently available directly from the author by emailing mahenoguy@yahoo.com.au for invoicing instructions, or by visiting 'T.S.S Maheno Collection' on Facebook.

The price is $40 (Including free shipping within Australia).

Gympie Times


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