The current exhibition being held at the Museum, ‘Submerged – Stories of Australia’s Shipwrecks’, has just had a new addition added to the exhibition. The bell of the Cingalee (1872 – 1887) is currently on loan from the Bunbury Senior High School. The Cingalee was a 3 masted Barque built in the port of Dundee, Uk in 1872. The figurehead was a Cingalese, or Sri Lankan; hence the ship’s name. In mid-February of 1877 a severe cyclone struck the Lacepede Islands that lie off the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia. The cyclone wrecked ten vessels anchored there to load guano. The Cingalee was run ashore in an attempt to save her. On dry ground the ship was purchased by J. & W. Bateman at an auction in Fremantle. From this point the ship was repaired and sold to a the company Pearse, Owston & Co. Master Mariner John Pringle then bought shares in the ship in 1880 and the Cingalee was chartered by the government to carry railway line and some timber for the Bunbury to Blackwood railway (Worsley, J & P Green, J. eds. 2012 pp-67 – 69). The loss of the Cingalee occurred when it was anchored at Bunbury on the 5th of June 1887. The barque ran aground near the entrance of the Leschenault Inlet at about 6:00pm. It is believed that the Barque may have scraped over the wreck of the Midas and the ship came to rest with its bow facing the sea and the stern embedded in the sand (Worsley, J & P Green, J. eds. 2012 pp-67 – 69). The salvage that was conducted stripped the ship of all of its gear, including the bell that is now on display in the Museum. The ship's bell was used as a school bell for Bunbury Senior High until it was stolen in 1979. The marine artefact was thankfully returned to the school in the year 2000 and bears testimony to Bunbury’s great seafaring history.
Worsley, J & P Green, J. eds. 2012 ‘Capes of Sunset – Western Australia’s Maritime Heritage Between Peel Inlet and Flinders Bay’ Australian National Centre of Excellence for Maritime Archaeology Special Publication No.15, PK Print, Fremantle WA pp-67 – 69.