World’s Oldest Message In A Bottle Found On Australian Beach
A Perth couple has found the world’s oldest known message-in-a-bottle on a West Australian beach.
Photographer Tonya Illman saw the 132-year-old bottle by chance while walking on a sand dune next to a beach near Wedge Island in January.
She said she picked up the bottle because she thought “it might look nice on display in my home”.
The Dutch gin bottle had become stuck in the sand dunes near Wedge Island, 180km north of Perth, before it was dug up by Tonya Illman and her friend Grace Ricciardo during a stroll on January 21.
In a video, posted to the family’s website, Mrs Illman explained that she had noticed a lot of rubbish on the ground and felt compelled to pick something up and throw it in the bin.
“I came across this bottle and thought that’s quite lovely, I could put it on my bookshelf,” Mrs Illman said.
Once the two women joined their group, her son’s girlfriend, Bree Del Borello, tipped the bottle upside down and discovered what looked like an old, wet cigarette, tied up with string.
“I called Tonya over and said ‘you’re not going to believe me, but we have found a message in a bottle’,” Ms Del Borello said.
The Western Australian Museum (WAM) confirmed the authenticity of the find, saying it believed the bottle was thrown from a German sailing ship attempting to find efficient shipping routes.
Between 1864 until 1933, German boats threw thousands bottles into the sea in attempts to track the currents of the ocean.
After 132 years lost at sea, the family’s discovery is the oldest known message in a bottle ever retrieved.
“This has been the most remarkable event in my life,” Mrs Illman said.
“To think that this bottle has not been touched for nearly 132 years and is in perfect condition, despite the elements, beggars belief. I’m still shaking”.
The Illmans worked with the Western Australia Maritime Museum, the German Hydrographic Agency and the weather agency to verify the note.