The parents of Red Bull Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo have been involved in the discovery the world’s oldest message in a bottle in Australia.
Joe and Grace Ricciardo, along with friends Kym and Tonya Illman, found a bottle containing an 132-year-old message, while driving a 4×4 at Wedge Island, 180 kilometres north of Perth.
Grace and Tonya made the discovery with the latter keeping the bottle as decorative piece before unearthing a message written in German, dated 12 June 1886.
“My friend Grace Ricciardo and I were walking across the dunes when I saw something sticking out of the sand so I went to take a closer look,” said Tonya Illman.
“It just looked like a lovely old bottle so I picked it up thinking it might look good in my bookcase. My son’s girlfriend was the one who discovered the note when she went to tip the sand out.
“The note was damp, rolled tightly and wrapped with string. We took it home and dried it out, and when we opened it we saw it was a printed form, in German, with very faint German handwriting on it.”
The discovery has since been verified by historians who have traced the bottle and subsequent message to a German sailing ship ‘Paula’.
It is believed the bottle was dropped as part of an experiment by the German Naval Observatory to learn about sea currents and shipping routes.
The message, once translated, instructed the finder to record its location and return to the nearest German consulate.
“Extraordinary finds need extraordinary evidence to support them, so we contacted colleagues in the Netherlands and Germany for help to find more information,” said Dr Ross Anderson, Assistant Curator Maritime Archaeology at the WA Museum.
“Incredibly, an archival search in Germany found Paula’s original Meteorological Journal and there was an entry for 12 June 1886 made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard.
“The date and the coordinates correspond exactly with those on the bottle message.”