NAUTICAL APPRECIATION: Gulmarrad resident Paul Wheeler checks out a 19th century sextant, which was one of more than 300 items auctioned at the Harwood Hall yesterday. Photo Clair Morton
NAUTICAL APPRECIATION: Gulmarrad resident Paul Wheeler checks out a 19th century sextant, which was one of more than 300 items auctioned at the Harwood Hall yesterday. Photo Clair Morton

Love of sea up for grabs

WALKING through a lifetime of artefacts collected by sea captain William Davey McBride brought up a host of memories for Paul Wheeler.

While Mr Wheeler had never even heard of Captain McBride - who spent his early twenties in the merchant navy and some years in Papua New Guinea before settling in Harwood in later life -- before attending yesterday's deceased estate auction at Harwood Hall, it was easy for him to draw parallels between their two lives.

"I lived in Papua New Guinea for seven years with the army, so it brings back some memories," the Gulmarrad resident said.

"It's amazing what's here, it's now very difficult to bring some of this stuff back into the country."

Mr Wheeler lived in PNG from 1976, and said he recognised some of the artefacts on display from areas in Papua that were not well-travelled.

"If you haven't been there you probably wouldn't take much notice of them," he said.

"I've actually got some similar things myself, just things I picked up in my travels."

As well as a history in the defence force and time spent in Papua New Guinea, Mr Wheeler also shares Captain McBride's apparent love of the sea. After leaving the defence force Mr Wheeler ran a fishing charter and commercial fishing business out of Cairns for years.

In 1977 the avid game fisherman returned to PNG when he took a party of Americans from Cairns to Port Moresby, and up into the Louisiade Archipelago.

"I've been on the ocean my whole life since I got out of the army," he said.

"In PNG did a little game fishing, and once I left I wanted to start something totally different.

Their mutual love of the ocean was Mr Wheeler's main reason for attending the auction.

"I'm not a collector at all," he said.

"The interest was in the fact that he was an old sea captain. There's so many interesting nautical things - telescopes, fishing reels, and also knives - they're the sort of things nautical people like.

"When you look around and see what he had, it clearly rotates around a man that did a lot of travelling."

A range of artworks by famous Australian and international artists, bronze statues, and antique furniture caught the attention of others in the large crowd milling through the hall.

Harwood local Maureen Castle was thoroughly impressed with the collection.

"The paintings are just wonderful, and there is a lovely dining room suite," she said.

"If I had the house to fit them all in, it would be great."



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