The Avoca Gold Robbery
Welcome to this site, a recount of an historic, but little known Australian story of Martin Wiberg and the theft of 5,000 Gold Sovereigns from R.M.S.S Avoca in 1877.
Martin was a crafty individual. Not only did he steal the coins, but he hid them in unique ways and not all in the same place. He was caught by police and he escaped spending months roaming South Gippsland before being re-captured.
Many of the 5,000 Gold Sovereigns were never recovered. Approximately, 3,500 sovereigns possibly await your discovery
As you make you way through this site, you will find interactive elements which will provide you with further information and actions to enhance your visit. I hope you enjoy your visit.
LOCATION: VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Date 1877STOLEN! 5,000 GOLD SOVEREIGNS FROM THE R.M.S.S AVOCA
When Detectives located Martin's hut on a selection at Tarwin River they searched heavily for the sovereigns.
Outside of the hut, hidden in a hollow log was a large carpenters plane, and concealed inside the plane were 56 coins. Martin had bored a hole into the end of it, to a depth of about two feet (60cm), and then closed the hole with a piece of wood which made it barely noticeable.
The Argus, 1878 reported that the detectives witnessed a Swede by the name of Charlie take the plane from the hut into the scrub and emerge without it, which led to them interrogating Charlie and locating it.
OTHER HIDING PLACES
Other unique hiding places, include a Barrel of Tallow that Wiberg crafted. Inside the Tallow, Wiberg hid 800 sovereign coins. This barrel had been sent to Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) for a boat to be purchased on his behalf (Australian Town and Country Journal, 1878).
Detectives also reportedly (The Argus, 1938) recovered kerosene tins of axle grease that had sovereigns inside them, from a cave that Wiberg stayed in at Waratah Bay, South Gippsland.
In 1904, the Barrier Miner, and Albury Banner and Wodonga Express reported that an unidentified resident of Inverloch found 75 sovereigns inside a log as he was cutting up firewood.
Calvert Wyeth, who was the proprietor of Inverloch’s Pine Lodge Motel (no longer in existence). On clearing some land for a golf course, The Argus, 1938 reported that Wyeth took down a hut that once belonged to Martin Wiberg. Every nook and cranny was searched, but no sovereigns were found.
Martin Wiberg Profile
Born: Circa 1852
Hair: Fair with whiskers, and moustache.
Identifying Marks: Letters M.W. in blue ink between thumb and forefinger of left hand.
Escape of Martin Wiberg 1878 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62026025;
Recovery of Stolen Sovereigns 1878 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88219993 ;
On the 11th October, 1875, Martin Wiberg and Rosina Brackley of Williamstown Street, Williamstown, Victoria were married by the reverend Nathanial Kinsman, of the Free Church of Victoria. The ceremony was performed at Gore St in Fitzroy, Victoria.
Just under two years later, the Illustrated Australian News (1877) reported in their "Births, Marriages, Deaths" section that Rosina had given birth to a daughter, Ethel Christina Wiberg on the 12th February, 1877.
Various newspapers, such as the "Riverine Herald (1883) a few years later, would suggest that the surname Wiberg was an alias, and the real surname of Martin was Olsen, as used by his brother Matthew.
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria;
Trove - National Library of Australia
Port of Registry: London
Built: 1866 by William Denny & Brothers Dumbarton
Owner 1: Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, London (1866-1881)
Owner 2: Sultan of Zanzibar (1882-1895)
Owner 3: Hajee Cassum Joosub, Bombay (1896-)
Launched: Saturday, 31st March 1866
Ship Type: Passenger Liner
Ship's Role: Ceylon/Australia service
Tonnage: 1482 gross; 905 net; 2640 dwt
Length: 257ft 0in
Breadth: 32ft 3in
Draught: 18ft 6in depth
Source: Clydebuilt database: ed Strathdee, P., Newth, J., & Asprey, D.