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Posts from the ‘History’ Category

Let the Search Begin!

Longshot Poster 2For the last two years we have been diligently working to make the Longshot expedition a reality. Finally, with assistance from the Prime Minister and support from the office of the Defence Minister, we have sourced the equipment we need.

The Department of Defence has kindly allowed us to use some Royal Navy magnetometer equipment for the duration of the search.

We will spend  the next few months preparing the equipment and building a specific housing unit. We still have some paperwork to complete, and some cables and computer software to purchase,  but we are delighted to announce that the search will begin in early summer. Project Longshot has gathered a lot of momentum since we first spoke to Ted Baillieau in November 2013.

We have attracted tremendous support from all sections of the community and now we hope to continue the story.


Greg Hunt’s First Shot Speech

From the Point Nepean First Shot commemorative event August 5th, 2014

Camera work: Terry Cantwell. David Muir, Chris Edwards

Audio: David Muir

Editing: Terry Cantwell

Congratulations to the First Shot Committee

Well done to the First Shot Committee on a fantastic event at Point Nepean today. A longer article to follow, but here are some photos of the day taken by Mount Eliza Secondary College students Oliver Green, Thomas McQuie, Finn Bardolph and Pete Brumby-Evans.

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Large turnout for Ranelagh Club Longshot event


Over 120 people attended a successful Project Longshot information afternoon at the Ranelagh Club, in Mt Eliza on Saturday.

Project Longshot is the mission the find the first Allied shot of the Great War: a 40 kilogram steel shell, which Australian forces fired at the German cargo ship SS Pfalz from a Fort Nepean gun on August 5th, 1914 .

The two-hour presentation introduced the First Shot story to Ranelagh Club members and guests from across the community.

Ranelagh Club president Lawrence Henderson opened the day with an emotional tribute to the Ranelagh Club’s longest-serving member and Kokoda veteran, Lionel Smith, before former Victorian Premier and Chair of the Victorian Anzac Day Committee, Mr Ted Baillieu spoke about his passion for Melbourne, its history, and the global significance of the first shot.

Major Bernie Gaynor, Chair of the First Shot Committee eloquently recounted the events of August 5th, 1914 and enthralled the audience with his enthusiasm and  knowledge of the first Allied shot of the Great War.

He also described the fascinating, but ill-fated, life of the SS Pfalz.

After Australian forces seized the ship, the Pfalz was renamed HMAT Boorara and served as an Australian troop-carrier in the Dardanelles and the North Sea. She was twice torpedoed and ended her life as a shipwreck off the Vancouver coast.

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The event was attended by several relatives of  those involved when the first shot was fired.

Margaret Robinson, grand-niece of Montgomery Robinson, the Australian pilot who allegedly scuffled with German captain Kuhiken for control of the Pfalz, shared some papers and cartoons of her famous relative with audience members.

Ken Penaluna, Grandson of gunner Edward Quirke, also attended with memorabilia.

Mount Eliza Secondary College students Harry Maxwell and Josh Daly built an information display for the event, centrepiece of which was a beautiful replica shell that Josh Daly and his grandfather made during the recent school holidays.

Project Longshot Team Leader Mark Ryan outlined a timeline for the mission and spoke about the technical difficulties of searching for a small object in such a vast area and the equipment they will need to find a six-inch shell under a metre of sand. Mr Ryan is founder of Souther Ocean Exploration, Australia’s most successful shipwreck discovery team.

Filmmaker  Terry Cantwell spoke about the importance of local stories and closed the day with a call for community involvement in Project Longshot.

On August 5th, 2014 a special commemorative event will be held at Point Nepean fort, which is open to all Australians.


Project Longshot

The First Shot Event at Point Nepean

The Ranelagh Club


The First Shot Event, August 5th.

Project Longshot is very proud to be associated with the First Shot Commemorative event.

The First Shot Committee is hosting a commemorative event at Point Nepean on August 5th, 2014, which will acknowledge the centenary of the beginning of WW1 with a reenactment of the First Shot from a Howitzer canon at the fort.

This is a major public event which will begin four years of World War 1 commemorations in Australia.

Please visit the First Shot website if you would like to register your interest in attending



From the First Shot website

Between 2014 and 2018, Australia will commemorate the ANZAC Centenary, marking 100 years since our nation’s World War 1 involvement. The first shot in the the British Empire was fired from Coastal Artillery Gun Emplacement No.6 at Fort Nepean, Portsea, Victoria on 5 August 1914 at 12:45pm, just 3 hours 45 minutes after war was declared in London. The shot was fired in order to prevent the German merchant vessel SS Pfalz from escaping Port Phillip to the open seas. The shot was successful – the Pfalz surrendered. To acknowledge the significance of this historic occasion, a special commemoration open to all Australians is to be conducted at the Parade Ground at the former Officer Cadet School within the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean National Park. This event will be the very first of many commemorations to be held all around the world in those countries that comprised the former British Empire. The anniversary will coincide with the opening of conservation and visitor access improvements at Fort Nepean that will enhance the telling of Point Nepean’s war time heritage stories.

Ranelagh Club supporting Project Longshot


The Ranelagh Club has a long and proud history dating back to 1925. Its founders, members and their activities have contributed much to our country and to the lifestyles we enjoy today. It is therefore fitting that we come together to learn more about our past and to support a project that highlights significant national and global activities in our waters 100 years ago.The Club is delighted to support Project Longshot through its members’, young and old, interest and participation. This event will be one of many opportunities for us assist in the delivery of this project and in doing so, reflect on our past and contribute to our future. I do hope that you can attend for what promises to be an enjoyable night and an intriguing journey.

Lawrence Henderson. President.


Longshot at the Melbourne Boat show

This video montage will form part of the Aqua-Power Marine display at this year’s Melbourne Boat Show.

Longshot will feature at the Melbourne Boat show, as part of the Aqua-Power Marine stand, between June 16-20 at the Exhibition Centre.

Aqua Power Marine of Seaford has kindly donated a Whittley SL22 V6 6.5 metre boat to Project Longshot as our main search vessel.

This little beauty is one of the most fuel-efficent and fast crafts in its category.

It is the perfect vessel to tow the search equipment we will be using to grid the five- kilometre search area where we believe the shell lies.

If you are attending the Boat show, make sure to drop by and have a chat.

The videos run in the following order:

Southern Ocean Exploration 2014 promo
0.00 – 2.37

Whittley SL22 video
2.37 – 5.31

The First Shot Presentation by Mark Ryan
5.31 – 23.24

Fundraising pitch
23.24 – 27.36

Project Longshot in the media

Project Longshot has received very good media coverage this week.

The story has featured in The Age, on ABC Radio on 3AW and on Channel 9’s Today Show

We even did a late night talkback spot on US radio.

The story has also been syndicated across Australia through Fairfax media.

Peter Fitzsimons has also mentioned the project in his Sydney Morning Herald column.

So  a big thanks to all our supporters.


Project Long Shot

2014 marks the centenary of World War 1 and we are planning a series of missions to find the first shot fired  in the Great War. The shell, if it is still intact, lies inside the opening to Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne.

Few people are aware that the first shot of the Great War was fired from Point Nepean, south of Melbourne.

On August 5th 1914,  Australian forces attempted to stop the German cargo ship, the SS Pfalz, from leaving Melbourne.

War had just been declared and all German activity in the Commonwealth was now considered hostile. Despite numerous warnings to cut her engines, Pfalz Captain Kuhiken ordered full steam ahead and a dangerous game of chicken ensued.

From Point Nepean Coastal Fort, the Australians continued to signal to the Pfalz to stop.

When they received an order to either ‘stop her of sink her’ they fired the first shot of the Great War across the Pfalz’ bow, missing the ship by metres.

The Pfalz  eventually  surrendered to Australian forces who boarded her at 1.00pm.

The German crew was interned in Melbourne for the duration of the war.

The ship itself was soon refitted as a troop carrier for the war effort and was used in the Gallipoli landings under the name HMT Boorara. She had a busy time in the Dardanelles: transporting Australian soldiers onto the battle arena, being twice torpedoed, and housing Turkish prisoners of war.

She was eventually shipwrecked off the Vancouver coast in 1926 when she was operating as a Greek trade vessel.

Long Shot will be a difficult mission given the ferocity of the tides in this area and a century of constant dredging, not to mention that locating a six-inch shell in Port Phillip Bay will be a needle-in- a- haystack job.

However, we have sourced some sonar equipment; a magnetometer that the US Navy is using in Pearl Harbour to locate unexploded ordinance from the Japanese attack in 1942. This equipment is capable of finding a .22 shell under six feet of sand.

If the shell is there we will find it.

Southern Ocean Exploration, Australia’s most successful shipwreck discovery team, will volunteer all of its resources to find the shell: divers, boats, fuel and insurances – but we need this equipment if we are to have any chance of finding the shell.

Whitewater Documentaries will provide a film crew to document the event, with a view to telling the fascinating story of the Pfalz in a one-hour television documentary. As you can imagine, this is a ‘Long Shot’, but just think  how exciting it would be to write this amazing chapter in Australian and international history.

Most of the credit for making this project a reality goes to author Keith Quinton whose recent book, Stop the Pfalz,painstakingly and accurately recreates the Pfalz’ last moments.

His information and assistance has helped SOE narrow the search grid to a practical area. Let’s make history