Edwin Robert Fernee1

#20364, (1879 - 1922)
FatherJoshua Fernee1 (1840 - 1911)
MotherMary Carraill1 (1852 - 1890)
Relationship2nd great-grandson of Samuel Fernee
ChartsSamuel Fernee & Mary Harris - collapsible 6 generation descendant chart
Joshua & Mary Fernee family - timeline chart
BirthEdwin Robert Fernee was born on 9 Mar 1879 in Dry Creek, South Australia.1
(Mother died) DeathAlice, Edwin, Joshua, James, Jessie, Sylvanus and George was 11 years old when his mother died.2 
(Mentioned) ObituaryThey was mentioned in Joshua Fernee's 1911 obituary. He was listed as son Mr E Fernee of Pine Creek.3 
MarriageEdwin Robert Fernee married Minnie Frances Steffeck on 21 Jan 1922 in Methodist Manse, Goodwood Park, South Australia.
Details from index: Edwin Robert Fernee, 42 years, single, father Joshua Fernee;
married to Minnie Frances Steffeck, 44 years, widow, father William John Armstrong.4 
DeathEdwin died on 13 Mar 1922 in Victoria River, Northern Territory.5
Newspaper Published 6 Apr 1922 in the Barrier Miner [Broken Hill, NSW].


Adelaide, Thursday.

Telegraphic information was received in Adelaide from Darwin this morning of a disaster which occurred at sea on March 13 off a remote part of the Northern Territory coast to a party of prospectors for oil working in the interests of Adelaide investors.

W. Bestwick, a well-known South Australian, was in charge of the party, which included E. R. Fernee and J. C.Sands, both of Adelaide, a Malay who knew the coast well, and two aboriginees of the Territory. In command of the lugger, which left Darwin about March 5, was a white skipper whose name is unknown, but who belonged to the territory. The voyage in the small craft, with stores and equipment, was to have been for 200 miles to search for oil on various holdings at Port Keats and on the Victoria River.

The message received from Bestwick stated that on March 13, while passing Point Pearce, the lugger was struck by a fearful "willy willy" at very short notice, and the craft was sunk within three minutes. All on board swam ashore, a distance of four miles, except Fernee and the owner, who, when the telegram was lodged, were still missing. Everything was lost.

On reaching the coast, Bestwick and Sands, the Malay, and the aborigines walked naked back to Port Keats 50 miles away, in expectation of picking up a passing lugger. They had no food, and suffered terribly from sunburn and mosquitoes. On March 23 aborigines whom they met stated that there was a lugger at Point Pearce. Sands and an aborigine went back and brought a launch to Port Keats, but it was unable to take them back to Darwin, and they had to proceed to the Victoria River depot. They did not reach Darwin until today.
The enterprises represented by the party were the Border Petroleum Company and the White West Gold Mining Company. All are interested in the quest for oil in the Territory.

Mr. D. G. Sands and Mr. C. Hewings, of Adelaide, both stated today that there is reason to hope that the two missing men will yet be heard of, as they were much better acquainted with the coast than Bestwick and J. C. Sands, who is a son of Mr. D. G. Sands. Fernee knew the locality particularly well, as he was with Mr. Brown a former Government geologist, prospecting for coal there about 15 years ago. His wife resides at Jeffcott-street, North Adelaide. The lugger was fitted with a small auxiliary engine.6
Newspaper Published 13 Mar 1923 in the The [Adelaide] Advertiser.

In fond and sincere memory of my stepfather, Edwin Robert Fernee who was lost in a boating disaster near the Victoria River N.T. on March 13th 1922. Ever remembered. --- Fanny and Harry Taylor.

In loving memory of Edwin Robert Fernee, who was lost in boating disaster on March 13th 1922. Inserted by his loving wife, Minnie Fernee.5
Last Edited19 Nov 2012


  1. South Australia Birth Registration Certificates Index, 1842-1928. Text index viewed online at GenealogySA. Edwin Robert Fernee, parents Joshua Fernee and Mary Carrailt [sic]. Reference book 6217, page 32 (District of Adelaide).
  2. Echunga St Marys Church of England Cemetery, data online http://www.australiancemeteries.com/sa/mount_barker/…
  3. Obituary of Joshua Fernee in [Adelaide] Observer, 6 May 1911. page 41, column A.
  4. South Australia Marriage Registration Certificates Index, 1842-1937. Text index viewed online at GenealogySA. Edwin Robert Fernee & Minnie Frances Steffeck; Book 290, page 156, District of Adelaide.
  5. The Advertiser [Adelaide, Australia]. Memorial notices for Edwin Robert Fernee, 13 March 1923. Image online at Trove Digitised Newspapers. http://trove.nla.gov.au/
  6. Barrier Miner [Australia], "Prospectors' Lugger Sunk", Thursday 6 April 1922, Page 4. online digital image viewed at Australia National Archives Trove site.