100 years ago this weekend, the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg 600 kilometres south of Iceland on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. And it seems there’s a far north Queensland element to the Titanic story.
RMS Titanic was the biggest ship of its time, the product of new methods of ship-building & design that supposedly made it unsinkable. The official death toll is 1514, but records are not entirely reliable.
If we accept those official figures, 710 people survived the disaster and it seems two of them may have settled near Cairns. Stories are told of a man and a woman who lived and worked around a gold mine at Mount Peter, near Edmonton in the 1920s. Otto Keller and a woman remembered as Mrs Zarr are said to have told staff at the Cairns Hospital that they were survivors of the Titanic sinking.
Their names don’t appear on passenger manifests, but we’re told the names of some passengers in “steerage” were found to be missing from the lists. We may never know for sure if Otto Keller & Mrs Zarr were on the Titanic — but some FNQ locals in the 1920s certainly believed that was the case. Both have streets named after them in the Edmonton area.
Listen to FNQ historian Kay Earl tell the story of Otto & Mrs Zar.