Fairytale ending for Queensland message in a bottle mystery

ABC Radio Brisbane


Hailey Renault


February 22, 2018 13:04:42

Jack Howlett and his granddaughter used a black light to reveal writing on the note. (ABC News: Isobel Roe)

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A Queensland family’s message in a bottle mystery has had a fairytale ending, with the daughter of the note’s author coming forward following a public plea for information.Brisbane resident Jack Howlett discovered a handwritten note and menu from the MV Wanganella inside a glass bottle on Fraser Island 60 years ago. He would have been so thrilled,” she said.”I love the image of that little boy throwing the bottle over.”All these years later it’s extraordinary really isn’t it that that could have come to light now.”

William ‘Billy’ Hare on holiday with his parents in Rotorua, New Zealand, in 1935. Photo:
The Howletts discovered a handwritten note on the back of the ship’s menu. (Supplied: Lindy Hare)
Kent Howlett said he felt “really honoured” to play a part in the Victorian family’s story.He planned to let Ms Hare decide what to do with the well-preserved menu and ship’s stationery when the two met in person later this year.”I’ll leave it to her whether she wishes to keep them herself or, if not, perhaps it’s museum fodder,” he said.”It certainly would be unfortunate to see it in the back of a drawer for another 50 years.”Mr Howlett’s detective work uncovered information about the Hare family, the captain of the MV Wanganella, and a witness present when the bottle was tossed overboard.He said the search had been a big effort by a number of people in his family. (Supplied: Lindy Hare)
Professor William Hare AO was Australia’s first radiology professor, and introduced the country to technology such as ultrasound, angiograms and breast screening — radiological interventions now commonplace in modern medicine.He passed away in 2013, but Ms Hare said she still had photographs of her father’s 1935 family holiday to New Zealand.”The shipping company was Huddart Parker, which my grandfather worked for,” she said.”They moved to Geelong after that incident, which is why [Jack’s] letter was never answered — they were no longer in Ballarat.”Howlett family honoured to solve message mystery

William Hare was Australia’s first professor of radiology. His son, Kent Howlett, recently revived the search. “Just to play a part in it and reunite Lindy with a piece of family history she wasn’t aware of is quite an honour.” Just days after issuing a public plea for help on ABC Radio Brisbane, William ‘Billy’ Hare’s daughter came forward.Lindy Hare said she planned to travel to Brisbane to see the message left behind by her “darling dad”.”It was lovely to have something from beyond the grave from him. (Supplied: Kent Howlett)
The message, which was dropped overboard during a 1935 voyage from Sydney to Auckland, included an address for a Mr and Mrs Robert Hare and Billy Hare of Ballarat.Mr Howlett said the notes had been tucked away in a cupboard and forgotten about after a failed attempt to track down the family.
Brisbane 4000
Fraser Island message in a bottle mystery leads to hunt for author's family