Aussie Finds World’s Oldest Message in a Bottle


Usually when you stumble upon some crap on the beach, it’s just that — absolute crap. (Sometimes literally.) But for one woman in Australia, her random beach find turned out to be the oldest message in a bottle ever found, dating back more than 132 years. And it was in a bottle used for booze! 

The rolled-up message found in the bottle. Image: Kym Illman

As Tonya Illman was walking along a beach in Perth, Western Australia, heading to meet up with her husband and other friends and family members, she decided to be a good beach citizen and clean up some trash.

The gin bottle on the beach in Perth. Image: Kym Illman

The first item she picked up was an old, cool-looking bottle that she decided to keep rather than junk. Which was a good call, as it turned out to be a gin bottle from 1886 with a message inside of it from the same year. 

The gin bottle containing the message was thrown overboard by the captain of a German naval expedition that took place between 1864 and 1933.  

Painting of what the German research vessel looked like. Image: West Australia Museum

Maritime archaeologists at the Western Australia Museum told NPR that “Thousands of bottles were thrown into the world’s oceans from German ships, each containing a form on which the captain would write the date it was jettisoned, the exact coordinates at the time, the name of the ship, its home port and travel route.”

The back of the message, intended to be filled out by its founder. Image: Kym Illman

Whoever found the message in the bottles was supposed to write in partially blank forms on the back of the letters where and when they found the bottles, then send them back to the researchers. And although over 600 bottles were actually sent back, this little gin bottle-floater apparently just decided to chill on the beach in Australia for about 132 years. And we can’t blame it, ’cause those Australian beaches are damn beautiful. 

And while this is definitely a cool find, we have to admit we’re kind of sad there wasn’t some kind of romantic note in the bottle. In fact, Skyy remembers a time when he, as a young Bahamian boy, tossed out his own message in a bottle because he would’ve been “so happy if somebody found it and read it.” Unfortunately, he thinks his dad probably just picked it up and threw it in the trash when he wasn’t looking. 

If all this talk about old gin bottles and exploration has you jonesin’ for a beachy gin treat, try the cocktail below. You can wear a three-pointed hat while you’re drinking it too if you really want to get your 19th century ocean explorer on.  

See recipe.

Images: YouTube / Kym Illman 





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Post Author: MNS Master

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