HMAS Curlew, M1121 Beyond 1990
HMAS Curlew decommissioned in April, 1990 and was put in Reserve
After being de-commissioned the Curlew was placed in Reserve on the dolphins off Taronga in Sydney Harbour. On 17th. June 1991, M1121 was sold to private interests - Tony Wolfe had intended to use her for salvage operations in Queensland and took the ship to Rockhampton. One engine was consistantly breaking down.(Photo: M1121 for sale, in the Fitzroy River, Rockhampton in 1994).
Curlew was used in the making of a film called "Paradise Road" (1996) which was made at Port Douglas north of Cairns. After the film she ended up in Cairns Inlet where she founded and became stranded on a mud bank. An ex RAN Leading Cook (Submarines), Gary H. bought Curlew in Cairns after seeing an ad in a newspaper for her - being offered for sale by a bank for recovery of debt. The previous owner was Tony Wolfe (later well known for grounding the Karma at Agnes Waters - the Karma is now a dive site). Wolfe collected and illegally disposed of industrial waste and after grounding Karma ended up in prison.
Craig remembers: "the photo you have on the website with her listed as location unknown is actually when she was moored in the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton and when she was owned by a Mr Tony Wolfe circa 1991 to 1994 if memory serves correctly. His original intentions was to use her as a salvage ship, later this changed to purely restoring her to former RAN service status. He did take her out to Cato Reef on a salvage trip. I'm unsure as to how far Cato Reef is off the Queensland coast (approx 200 nm.), but it took Curlew 2 days steaming under main power to get there.
Tony Wolfe did have a history of being able to unintentionally ground Curlew on several mud banks and sand bars during his ownership. It wouldn't surprise me if Curlew suffered some damage to the hull at some stage as there was a rumour circulating that she had a "broken back". I did note however that Curlew carried a large range of spare engine parts coated in some sort of amber coloured gel."
Gary went into partnership with an American, Paul Bolter and together they put up 40,000.00 for the purchase. The vessel was believed to have been registered by Wolfe in Rockhampton. The agreement to purchase was signed on Melbourne Cup Day in November 1997 and the vessel was then re-registered to the new owners. They chartered the vessel for the making of "The Thin Red Line" off Daintree and Bramston Beach in 1998, before Gary and Paul parted company. Gary and his wife then sailed the ship to Hobart.
|Curlew anchored in the Fitzroy River, Rockhampton, between 1991 and 1994. During a trip to Cato Reef the forecastle awning was blown away in a storm.||Curlew alongside the old apple wharf in Port Huon, 2005.|
Paradise Road is a 1996 (released 1997) film which tells the story of a group of English, American, Dutch and Australian women who are imprisoned in Sumatra during World War II. It was directed by Bruce Beresford and stars Glenn Close as beatific Adrienne Pargiter, Frances McDormand as the brash Dr. Verstak, Pauline Collins as missionary Margaret Drummond (based on missionary Margaret Dryburgh), Julianna Margulies as American socialite Topsy Merritt, Jennifer Ehle as British doyenne and model Rosemary Leighton Jones, Cate Blanchett as Australian nurse Susan McCarthy and Elizabeth Spriggs as dowager Imogene Roberts.
Basing his picture on real events, Bruce Beresford tells the story of a vocal orchestra created by the women in a Japanese P.O.W. camp, a classic survivors tale extolling women's ability to survive hardship and atrocity through perseverance, solidarity and creativity.
As with all historical films, the makers of Paradise Road faced the problem of finding locations. Viewers see the outside of Raffles Hotel and are then taken inside. But the interior scenes of dining and dancing at Raffles were in fact shot in the Marrickville Town Hall which, with its wood panelling and high ceiling fans, has the appropriate feel of time and place. The scramble to get on board the Prince Albert was filmed on the waterfront in Port Douglas, not Singapore, and two prison camps were built near Port Douglas in north Queensland. Where a specifically Asian landscape or streetscape was needed, those scenes were photographed in Penang. Singapore wharf, central Muntok, or the Dutch bungalows of Palembang in 1942 cannot be restored or rebuilt with all details accurate. The film does not show the skyline of mountainous Lubuklinggau that the women glimpsed through cloud and trees during the last months of their imprisonment. Viewers think that they see a filmed re-enactment of six aircraft attacking the Prince Albert and flak exploding; in fact there was one aircraft, while the other five and the flak were computer-generated. The images on film were manipulated to make them more real: the viewer sees not a re-enactment, but a virtual re-enactment.
|Above - HMS Neasham as the RANs dive tender HMAS
Below - HMS Neasham as Archilles III.
|Above - No longer required - awaiting disposal.
Below - Curlew as HMS Prince Albert.
When tracked down in 2011 - Neil remembers: "I worked on the film as crew in Archilles which was an ex Pommie minesweeper that was brought to Australia by the Navy and sold to Keith Willians, a developer on the Gold Coast. Williams rebuilt the minesweeper (HMS Popham) into a research vessel called Archilles I and another Minesweeper (HMS Nearsham) into a luxury cruiser called Archilles III, this vessel was used to accommodate the actors and director. A lot of the filming was done alongside the old town wharf at Port Douglas however some was done at sea and Archilles III was used as a tender, for changing costumes and makeup.
A number of scenes required the ship HMS Prince Albert (played by Curlew) to be attached by Jap zeros. There was only one restored zero but the scenes were digitised so one zero became several or indeed a squadron. The actors had to "abandon ship" which they did by jumping over the side. Some old Carley rafts were used as props for this scene.
|The movie, "Paradise Road" was made in Port Douglas, North Queensland using Curlew as a British Warship, the HMS Prince Albert, in Singapore - she is seen alongside in Port Douglas, North Queensland.||The set - Lights, Action and Camera! (thanks to GKA)|
The Thin Red Line
1998, "The Thin Red Line", the Plot: In World War II, the outcome of the battle of Guadalcanal will strongly influence the Japanese advance into the pacific. A group of young soldiers is brought in as a relief for the battle weary Marine units. The exhausting fight for a key positioned airfield that allows control over a 1000 mile radius puts the men of the Army Rifle company C-for-Charlie through hell. The horrors of war forms the soldiers into a tight knit group, their emotions develop into bonds of love and even family. The reasons for this war get further away as the world for the men gets smaller and smaller until their fighting is for mere survival and the life of the other men with them.
|1998 movie "The Thin Red Line"||A Yoeman signals to an American Warship (Curlew) while standing on an oil drum on the beach at Guadalcanal - actually Bramston Beach, south of Cairns, Queensland.|
The Last of the Wooden Warriors
|A very tired looking Curlew at Port Huon in about 2003/4. Her pennant numbers had been put back on the side prior to disposal.|
|For Sale||For Sale again.|
In early 2011 the Curlew lies alongside at Margate Marina, south of Hobart, Tasmania.
|Most recent photos of the Curlew - July 2011. Now officially recognised as the largest wooden vessel in Tassie.|