Culture and heritage

Maritime heritage

Keilawarra poem

The Keilawarra tragedy of 1886 involved the loss of some 41 lives and is one of the most significant maritime disasters in NSW.

To the memory of Captain Buttrey of the "Keilawarra"

All honour the brave
Who act at duty's call;
Who scorn the coward's grave,
And dauntless stand or fall.
A wreath let fancy twine
About each hero's head,
And memory, in her shrine,
Record the illustrious dead;
And while their praise the muses sing,
Let gratitude her tribute bring.
Enrolled among the brave
Let Buttrey's name appear,
Who scorned himself to save
While others perished near;
But nobly kept his post
While others, shrinking, fled
Till, when his ship was lost,
The waves closed o'er his head.
Yet hear his words float o'er the sea,
"Save yourselves, lads, never mind me."
The praises of the brave
In ocean waves shall ring,
And over Buttrey's grave
Sea-winds a requiem sing;
But Buttrey's deed and name
We'll write in letters clear,
And in the haunts of fame
His memory revere,
And send those words from sea to sea,
"Save yourselves, lads, never mind me."

Image of Captain Buttrey and copy of printed contemporary poem, (published source unknown), loaned by Peter Johnstone, descendant of Captain Buttrey.

Page last updated: 31 August 2012