Phoenician shipwreck and mine in Western Australia

Allan Robinson was a pioneering scuba diver and shipwreck hunter in Western Australia during the 1960s and 70s, involved in the discovery of some of the seventeenth century wrecks including the Tryal [1622], Verguelde Draeke [1656] and Zuytdorp [1711] .  By all accounts, including his own, he was a controversial figure and his activities were a catalyst for the introduction for laws to protect maritime heritage.  His methods of recovery of material included explosives, earning him the name of the ‘Gelignite Buccaneer’.  For our purpose it is not his colourful or unethical activities but his claim to have found three pre-Dutch wrecks – a Phoenician trireme, a Chinese merchant ship and a Spanish wreck – that draws our attention.  This post will look at Robinson and the first of these three claims.  The others will be dealt with at some later date.

Allan / Alan / Ellis Alfred Robinson

Robinson was born in 1928 as Ellis Alfred Robinson, but went by Allan [most common spelling] in the period relevant here.  He was an early exponent of scuba diving.  In 1957 he claims that he found the remains of the Vergulde Draek shipwreck from 1656, but lost the location.  He was one a party that relocated it in 1963 and proceeded to remove large amounts of coin from the wreck.  At the time only marine salvage laws applied to such wrecks, but it was partly his activities and lobbying from the maritime archaeological community that encouraged the Western Australian government to change the law in 1964.  This resulted in him losing his salvage rights.  Over the next decade he had numerous run-ins with the law personally and in challenging the legal basis for the new shipwreck legislation.

In this period Robinson continued to look for wrecks but was extremely hostile to any dealings with the Western Australian authorities.  His own account of his diving career is told in his autobiographical and self-published In Australia, treasure is not for the finder [1980].  This sets out what reads like a very self-serving account of a man who, while he was impatient and didn’t suffer fools, was always the victim of a bureaucracy and police force that was out to get him, illegally if necessary, and to thwart his independence.  If he did anything illegal himself its because it the goal posts had been moved, or because he had been pushed beyond the limits.

Others found him to be violent and erratic in character, willing to turn on friends where he stood to gain [Niekerk 1993].  A fictionalised version of Robinson is the central character in Robert Drewe’s Fortune [1986].  Drewe knew and followed the career of Robinson while working as a journalist in Perth and Sydney.

In response to the WA Government’s removal of his salvaged relics he appealed the state law in the Australian High Court, where he won a significant victory in a 1977 judgement.  The court determined that the WA law was not valid, as it extended state control into non-territorial [Commonwealth] waters beyond what was permitted in the Australian Constitution.  Foreshadowing the court’s decision, the new Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act [1976] created effective coverage beyond the state waters.

Robinson eventually was forced to leave Western Australia and spent some time in northern Queensland.  Police harrassment continued but he continued to dive and made a further claim for Spanish shipwrecks along the Queensland coast.

Robinson hanged himself in a cell at Sydney’s Long Bay Gaol on 2 November 1983 while on trial on charge of conspiracy to murder his former wife.

Former journalist Robert Drewe published a lightly fictionalised account of Robinson in the guise of Don Spargo, a wreck diver who finds a Dutch shipwreck, in the novel Fortune [Drewe 1986].   Spargo is self-serving, volatile and dangerous to both friends and foes.  In 1994 Prospero Productions made a documentary about Robinson’s shipwreck activities called The Gelignite Buccaneer [not seen].  He is also the subject of this brief podcast from northwestern Australia local radio.

The Phoenician ship claim

The story unfolds in Chapter 9 of the book when, at the beginning of 1969, Robinson was passing through Derby on the northwest coast of WA.  An old prospector called Shallow-well Charlie paid him a visit one night and told a tale that immediately got Robinson’s attention.  Charlie was a water diviner and well-digger, and had prospected since the Great Depression.  By the time of their encounter Robinson estimated that he may have been 90 years old.  Charlie’s tale was that in about 1930 he had found a deposit of galena [lead ore] on the Buccaneer Archipelago, north of Derby.  Charlie never did anything with the find, commenting ‘[y]ep, no-one has found it since, but someone sure was there before me.  Great big hole dug in the side o’ the hill.  All overgrown round there with bush now.  Must’ve been a long time ago, ay.” [p. 67].  It was located on the coast, and Charlie speculated that whoever had dug it had come by ship and thought that there was something buried in the mud visible at low tide.

Next, Charlie pulled a small object wrapped in dirty paper from his pocket.  It was ‘a piece of material about nine inches in diameter and three eighths of an inch thick.  It was a dirty green-brown colour with the edge broken and chipped.’  [p. 67].  There were markings on the side of the bronze object, which to Robinson did not look like Chinese characters as Charlie had supposed they were.  Charlie described the location as on the edge of the Buccaneer Archipelago, just to the north of where they were.  So enthused was Robinson that he arranged a charter flight for the following morning and as they flew over the site they saw the old mine, ‘a hill which had been burrowed away for hundreds of yards along one side as if a bomb had been exploded there at some time in the past.  Vegetation covered the huge scar.’  From the air they also the outlines of a long narrow sunken vessel sticking out of the mud.  ‘There in the mud was a strange outline.  Small pips of mud seemed to project above the surroundings to form a shape more like a banana than a ship.  It was only about one sixth as wide as it was long but the contour was quite plain.’ [p. 68]

After their return to Derby Robinson posted the artefact to ‘America’ to seek an identification.  After his return to Perth he obtained a response by registered letter.  A passage from the letter is quoted, but Robinson does not name the institution to which he sent the artefact.

It is of Phoenician origin possibly from a period 200 – 700 B.C.

At present, we are not able to translate fully, the text of the writing on the plate.  This is being investigated by Professor Mason of our archaeological section, who will forward his findings at a later date. [Robinson 1980: 68]

No further correspondence from the unnamed institution or Professor Mason is noted in Robinson’s book.

Robinson mentioned the wreck to Dr Ian Crawford, then Curator of Anthropology at the WA Museum, when he was in Derby, but was ignored by him [p. 133].   Then says he went to the WA Museum and told the Director, W.D.L. Ride of the find.  Ride was dismissive, perhaps because of their earlier volatile encounters, and Robinson walked out.   ‘Today that record does not exist’ he says, and this can be read in a number of ways.

After failing to convince anyone at the WA Museum Robinson went to the WA State Library, researching the Phoenicians and their far-flung maritime expeditions, including to China and circumnavigating Africa.  The descriptions of the long narrow triremes were just what he thought was marked by the shadowy submerged remains on the coast.  Given their maritime prowess he asked ‘should it be impossible for one of their ships to be on the Australian mainland’? [Robinson 1980: 69].

No further evidence is presented regarding what he and Charlie found, and there is no mention of him revisiting the site.  Shallow-well Charlie died within a year of their previous meeting.  In particular there is no mention of whether there was ever further information from the unnamed institution or its Professor Mason that had received the bronze artefact with the mysterious writing.

It is not clear when the first public mention was made of the wreck.  An article in the West Australian quoted Rex Gilroy arguing that discovery of ‘the wreck of a Phoenician trireme off King Sound’ indicated that pre-Dutch maritime civilisations had reached Australia in the past  [West Australian 17.7.1974].  Robinson’s 1980 book had minor impact as it was self published.  Newspaper reports of Robinson’s death in 1983 did not make mention of the book specifically, but they do say  he had authored more than a dozen books.  The National Library of Australia and Western Australian Library only list the one.

Elsewhere Robinson’s story has been picked up byDavid Hatcher Childress [1986: 130]. The claim is reproduced in a number of secret visitor websites, and also more generally on diving and shipwreck websites.

Testing the claim

Obviously any analysis of the claim has to accommodate the concern that both the finder [Shallow-well Charlie] and the advocate [Robinson] are dead.  The information presented is limited to Robinson’s book, which elsewhere I note is written from the perspective of self-justification, making him out to be a victim of everyone else’s incompetence or maliciousness.  Robinson provides a number of clear statements about what he saw and what he thought in his book.  As he wrote and published it himself we should reasonably expect that he was asking us to believe the text as written.  Does that mean he was not telling the truth?  And how much of it was the truth – did Shallow-well Charlie exist, and did he participate as told in the published account?  What if he changed a few details to preserve the secret of the location?  Would that count as lying [yes, pretty much], but perhaps with a reasonable and understandable justification.  Robinson first presented the details of the discovery in his 1980 book, supposedly after holding on to it for eleven years.  He said that he did not want to report anything earlier to the authorities because of his distrust of them.  In the meantime Charlie had died.  Does this indicate a desire to come clean, big-note a tantalisingly untestable story or is it a flight of fancy?  Based on the information we have no clear judgement on this can be made.  One issue is that Robinson is not merely a second-hand reporter of Charlie’s account, but a first hand observer.  Any questions about the detail of the account cannot be dismissed as happening during retelling.  Neither can we use the other excuse of the erratic editor twisting the story around, as does happen in newspaper reportage.  Robinson wrote and published the book himself, so we have to accept that the story we read is the story he wanted to tell.

Galena mining
Firstly, there is the close association of the galena mine on the hill, ‘burrowed away for hundreds of yards along one side’ with the ship.  Does galena occur in the area?  According to a mine information site the nearest lead mines to have operated near Derby were Narlarla, now closed, and Wagon Gap, both about 125 kilometres east of Derby.  Three of the islands in the archipelago are currently being mined for iron ore and the area has been geologically well surveyed.  The lack of any silver, lead or zinc deposits being identified draws a question over Shallow-well Charlie’s initial story associating the find with ancient galena mining.

Aerial survey of the mine and wreck
A second issue is the visibility of the wreck.  According to Robinson’s account it was readily visible and even slightly exposed at low tide, but inaccessible at high tide.  One rainy afternoon therefore I spent a few hours using the wonderful Google Map coverage to do my own close aerial search of the Buccaneer Peninsula.  According to Robinson both the mine and the wreck had been visible at low tide from 500 feet up.  Satellite coverage over the Buccaneer Archipelago is now excellent, with the highest level of magnification being formed by sub-metre pixels.  On my monitor a 20 metre length  on the ground measured 40 mm or a notional scale of 1:500, so individual cars, trees or shrubs were readily visible.  The imagery would be comparable to or better than a light plane flying at 500 feet, with the added advantage of being able to zoom in or out and to then exactly geo-reference any likely locations.  The air photos were taken at low tide, although whether at the minimum is not clear.  I checked a margin extending 100 metres back from the low tide mark into the water, which also covered about the same distance towards high water.  Any evidence of something that was not mud or sand under water or mangroves was carefully examined.   On a second run I examined the country bordering the coast inland from the shore for about 1 kilometre.  Careful attention was paid to any linear or angular breaks in the natural run of the geology.  It may seem unusual or even inadmissable to be conducting an archaeological survey using Google Maps.  It is however being used to great effect in places like Iraq where large expanses of desert can be examined remotely for archaeological remains – see stories here and here for example.

Here are the results of the survey, which tracked the coast of the mainland, and all of the islands in the archipelago, from Derby to the mouth of the Calder River.

  • Number of possible sunken non-natural remains at or below low water within 100 metres from shore – 0
  • Number of possible quarrying areas on hillsides within 1 kilometre of water’s edge – 0.

Given the excellent high quality and clarity of the photography, the size and visibility of the target objects, the ability to re-check and zoom in to examine locations in more detail and so on, the coverage of the Buccaneer Archipelago has to be considered comprehensive and close to definitive.  In short, evidence in support of the shipwreck or mine was not found because there was none to be found.

Identification of the finds
Shallow-well Charlie suggested that the writing on the object could be a form of Chinese.  Robinson [or Charlie] sent the piece or a copy of it to an unidentified place in the United States for analysis [p. 68]. The only clue as to where is that a reply came back referring to passing it on to ‘Professor Mason in our archaeological department’.  Unfortunately the ‘Phoenician artefact’ has never been published and we do not know what institution it was sent to, or what response Professor Mason had, or even which Professor Mason it was.

A quick googling found a number of possible Professor Masons in archaeology.  Initially I was quite excited as I thought it may have been Professor Revil J. Mason, the eminent South African archaeologist from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.  He retired in 1989, after a long career in which he fought a long, noble and probably pretty lonely struggle against the apartheid regime’s reworking of prehistory, which favoured and encouraged the explanation that the impressive structures of Great Zimbabwe and other stone-built settlements represented Phoenicians and other travellers rather than the indigenous people.  He was someone who was familiar with the mythologisation of history and the need for proof of Phoenician claims.  Unfortunately it was not him, but an American professor.  But which one?

Next stop was the various editions of the International Directory of Anthropologists and the Archaeologists Year Book.  There are only scrappy holdings of these in Australian universities, and they are not gripping reading.  However, for our purposes they are an excellent way of finding a Mason in a haystack.

Contenders are listed below from the IDA, 3rd edition [1940] and 5th edition [1972].  Unfortunately the 4th edition is not held in Australia.

  • J. Alden Mason, University Museum, University of Philadelphia          Retired 1958, died 1967
  • Leonard E Mason, Science Museum, St Paul Minnesota                             Retired 1969, died 2005
  • Ronald J Mason, Lawrence University, Wisconsin                                       Retired 1995 – North American archaeology specialist
  • WA Mason, Dept of Psychology, University of California at Davis         Retired 1996 – Primatologist

None of these Masons really seems to be an appropriate person to whom to send the artefact.  Another candidate – Carol I Mason, a North American archaeology specialist of the University of Wisconsin at Lawrence, is excluded as the letter clearly says that Mason was male.


In summary, Robinson’s account of his find raises a number of problems when tested.  Firstly, there is no independent visible evidence of either the galena mine or the shipwreck or possible sites that could have been interpreted as such.  We do not find galena in this area, although that could have been a question of misidentification.  Neither is there any evidence of a Professor Mason who is likely to have been the expert who identified the artefact.  As a result it has to be said that Robinson’s account of his encounter with Shallow-well Charlie and the identification of a mine and shipwreck are highly likely to be fabricated.  On this basis there is no justification for assuming that Robinson found any evidence relating to Phoenicians, either on land or sea.


Published sources

Drewe, R. 1986
Fortune, Pan Books, Sydney.

International Directory of Anthropologists
3rd edition [1940]
5th edition [1972]

Mineralogical Research Company [MRC] 2011
Narlarla Mine,, accessed 29 January 2011.

Robinson, A. 1980
In Australia treasure is not for the finder, Vanguard Service Print, Perth.

van Niekerk, M. 1993
‘Tarnished treasure: tempestuous tale of “Robbie”, WA’s rogue wreck-hunter’, West Australian Big Weekend supplement, 22 May 1993, p. 12.

West Australian 1974
‘Discoveries point to early sea explorers’, West Australian 17 July 1974.

Internet sites

Google Maps

Australian Broadcasting Commission 2010
Short feature on Allan Robinson, 5 February 2010


26 Responses to Phoenician shipwreck and mine in Western Australia

  1. bobshannon says:

    We had sea going vessels and traders still unknown to us. African decent mariners became that way due to war. They became a whole community and disappeared around 570 BC, covering 2 thirds of this planet. Don’t think they never paid us a visit or two. easy to identify Phoenician ships. They used dove tail fixings to their ships. They did not write an alphabet but carved their images on rock faces always high off the ground. They also were wrecked on this coast. They were celestial navigators who walked to the north and on the way stopped in caves where they left their signature in cave walls shown as pock marked images as in Africa. As you can find the Bradshaw paintings were theirs like it or not. There are more sites to find. More sights have been found by quiet prospectors, and it does make sense when looked at in a different way. If you were wrecked and you know where north is and if you walked toward a place where you knew other ships may spot you and it was your only way out, you would take the chance. They where mostly after salt as its value out-stripped gold by double. They where of course miners as well traders. They sailed to China, brought back medicine and drugs to Greece and Egypt. They were also on our east coast of Australia to the north. Also evidence in America.

    I would like to know what anchor chains, if any, they used. The hull shape was slightly cat shaped as to load each side for better stability hence why the Derby WA find is stillthere, if it had any other hull shape it would have rolled over and broken up having a small amount of knowledge from a similar wreck. Yes 16 kms inland south of Port Hedland, all the above is only what I believe at the moment. My return to this site in 6 months from now with tools enough to excavate and stay on site for 3 months. Hopefully, it may come to pass that the truth may lay on land not the ocean. By the way, the person looking for WW2 aircraft, there is a Catalena east side center in Exmouth gulf. I will endeavor to give the correct GPS next time.This the very first time I have spoken regarding this topic.
    I always thought I was alone. Regards fishfingers….

    • Thanks Bob. As an archaeologist I have to make the obvious point that if you are excavating you need to observe the relevant laws in WA. You might find it cheaper and less complex as a first step to take some photos and get second opinions on them from a range of credible specialists first. Don’t forget that while the Secret Visitors Project remains sceptical until credible evidence emerges, we’re exactly the audience you need to convince.

    • bobshannon says:

      absolutely correct,,any hint of a positive result would result in surrendering the site to a gov dept, you cannot own history. Truth is the only asset we own,

      Regards Bob.

  2. Stephen says:

    -15.523745, 123.157354 on google maps is strange because it has a straight line coastpart of the island looks like its been mined and there seems to be something in the water between the two islands.

    • Thanks Stephen. When looking at satellite images its always good to hunt out more. Google Earth isn’t always optimal. The easiest way to access them for this place, which is Adele Island Nature Reserve, is to go to its Wikipedia page, and in the top right corner you have the coordinates that you quoted. If you click on them you get a page which tabulates all the different public domain satellite and aerial photos that are available. They vary a lot in quality and scale, but there’s a good one with lots of detail here – HereWeGo –,123.16092,18,satellite. Worth zooming in.

      It looks like the N-S linear ‘edge’ is part of the overall geology – see immediately to the left a whole series of broadly parallel limestone ridges. The E-W ‘edge’ is pretty variable – it seems to be a line between consolidated vegetation covered dune, and denuded dune sand erosional features. The erosion looks natural – compared to that, sand mining looks like a bomb has gone off.

      If you go to the north end of the island you can see the lighthouse and another building, and tracks [more visible in the Google Maps coverage]. The tracks give you a sense of what a humanly made ground disturbance would look like.

      Don’t know what you mean by ‘the two islands’. Some satellite images show a little lump immediately south, but this is an inter-tidal sand bank.

  3. Dale Moss says:

    G’day Dennis, Allan Robinson’s book had a profound impact on me as an inspiration to look into our possibly untold history.
    My main interest is possible Spanish visitation/exploration of the east coast.
    Allan quotes an apparent newspaper article that states that a spanish fleet lost three ships to a cyclone on the Queensland coast in 1599.
    However, after much research I can find no reference to this at all anywhere.
    Would love to see you put your analytical spotlight on this claim, maybe you can find something somewhere, or officially put it to rest?
    As far as I can tell, the only certain spanish contact we had was Torres and Prado, who probably sighted the tip of Cape York in 1606

    • Hi Dale, its remarkable about how many people were inspired by Allan Robinson’s book. Not sure its a comparison he would necessarily have liked, but I think more and more that he an important populariser of adventure travel in Australia, with the Leyland brothers, Malcolm Douglas and, dare I say, Alby Mangels.

      The 1599 date is close enough to the Mendana expedition of 1595-6, where the Santa Ysabel disappeared, that I think Robinson either misread an account or read a sloppily put-together version of the story.

      Its on my [all too long] list of things to devote time to on the blog once work lets me get back into it.

  4. derbyiters says:

    Well then, being a Derby based fella. I’m gonna start having a better look around our area here ! And already thinking of the lay of the land ( in mind & expirence of local surrounds ) I have a inkling to where it is [ roughly by using the ‘ IN MUD ‘ theory of thought,here ] and, ” here’s to who knows what may come from it all,eh ? ”
    From a derby local, who just happen to stumble onto this page by mistake late at night being unable to sleep & bored !

    Cheers to everybody who’s interested in this MANS LIFE, I would’ve been proud to meeting him, myself.

    • Thanks for the local input Mr D. You will, of course, tell us whether you find anything or not. I’d be interested in knowing, if you follow Robinson’s description, whether that really narrows it down to particular spots, and whether you can access them all to check them thoroughly. From the Google Maps coverage it looks like not much good road access to look at the entire coastline.

      Not sure whether I’m proud that the Secret Visitors Project is a good cure for insomnia, but we’ll take the applause where we can get it.

  5. Tim Mitchell says:

    Hi Denis,

    I do appreciate you looking at this subject with an analytical mind, however I believe that you have been too quick to dismiss there being any evidence of a mining site and a banana style possible wreck site in the area. The key here is that it was stuck in mud, most of the archipelago and peninsula is sand and not mud. When the search is confined to where there is only mud you will find that there are two possible sites (there may be more) which provide a mud bound site with possible mining activity. One is south of Darby and it looks like a 200 meter section of the hill was blown out by a bomb, just as described. The remains that would be left at this stage are going to be only very small at this point and a 40 meter by 6 meter Trireme will only leave a small line about 40 meters long in the mud. This is what we see in two sites. So there is enough evidence to show that he could have been telling the truth and with someone who was passionate about pre-european sailing evidence, I think that it is unfair to dismiss it as a lie. The only way that these sites could be dismissed is by actual on site examination.


  6. Allan Robinson saved my life when I dived with him and almost drowned on the Gilt Dragon.
    I was nineteen years old & the second youngest member of the Underwater Explorers Club. Allan was a fellow member and like an adopted Uncle to me.
    Sadly over the years I have heard many stories about Allan Robinson, but he was always good to me. When I came out of the Army after two years National Service, Allan offered me a job with his underwater salvage team, but something stopped me from accepting. I often wonder how things would have turned out had I accepted. Allan finished his time on earth hanging from the rafters in a prison cell. I am no expert in these matters but I would not have thought Allan Robinson would ever suicide. Read more about Allan on my website:

  7. Christo(pher) Steward says:

    Knew Allan well and know a fair bit of information about this find. Who are you and how did you come across this info?

    • Hi Christo

      You can find out about me and the blog on the ‘About’ tab at the top of the page.

      Robinson’s Phoenician wreck story is just one of many that are repeated, usually changing a bit in the re-telling. My aim in this blog is to look at claims for pre-Dutch/pre-Cook contact critically, and as a starting point it means going back to the source of each claim, so in this case looking at what Robinson actually said, then testing it to see whether the claim can stand up with a bit of critical scrutiny. All of my information has been referenced in the text. And it is only a bit of scrutiny; almost none of the claims survives what would be a reasonable level of discussion and comparison with other evidence for a high school assignment, let alone the sort of scrutiny I give my colleagues all the time.

      Robinson has prompted more replies at Secret Visitors than anything I’ve posted. He seems to have been a very complex man, which I tried to capture the flavour of, based on what was written by both him and others. He does not seem the sort of person you’d meet and forget.

      If you’ve got information about Robinson or the Phoenician galley that may be of interest to readers of the Secret Visitors Project, I would be very happy to have you share them here.

      Thanks, Denis

  8. craig says:

    Well, thank you, Pilgrim33 for thinking of me ! All this time ? Downright humanity, to say the least.
    I paid top dollar for the copy, but I would pay more ! It was the passion I was purchasing. The Passion of a very adventure seeking man. “Allen Robinson”
    I guess, the kind of adventure, that the writer, would liken too. But civility and discipline got in the way of my life , “sadly”
    My new Passion in recent times is applying the techniques of Sherlock Holmes, to the quest of finding lost Aeroplanes. Especially ones with a story. Im about to retire. I plan to follow the footsteps of those brave aviators of WW2. Those men who flew piston engined aeroplanes against this lands foes. Brave men who fought, crashed and died, for arguments and Chess playing between the ruling classes of varying lands, for what ever the reasons where to warrant war and bloodshed.
    Thank you once again Pilgrim 33 for finding this book for me. A very very noble gesture.
    As for the worthy Mr Paul Martino, I met the man back in the mid 80s, he had rubbed shoulders with some people I knew, who where quite well off. A distinguished family from this area. Basically dynasty fortune passed down.
    Somehow he managed to get a member of this family on side to finance a Dive Shop, which actually went ahead , set up and traded.
    Wrapping up, the shop of course failed in a very short time and the family lost their investment. I actually fell under this mans spell, for a short time, loaning him my copy of Allens book. He showed a lot of interest in Robinsons, activities. After time I had to go look Martino up, to attempt to get my copy back, two times I think. In the end Martino, disappeared and so , with my book.
    Now at this point, I would like to define , in brief this guy Martino. Some readers here my cast their memories back to the 1980s where a number of Australians where detained in Indonesia, for what ever they had done to upset the Indonesian authorities.
    Their activities where sunken ancient cargo ships. They where extracting treasure and artefacts from these ships, in turn upsetting Indonesian notoriety.
    These guys where interviewed in prison, in Indonesia, by the ABC. Mr Martino, was the ring leader. LOL
    I am not applicating any scorn, by the way, but it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy LOL
    I last heard , Mr Martino was residing in the Philippines, obviously there are many treasure ships in that neck of the woods, I am certain that Mr Martino would be entertaining and keeping company with some of the most deceitful woman on earth LOL again. I see no reason to think otherwise ! Now Im laughing a real lot ! Ha Ha


    • Pilgrim33 says:

      I got a copy from Interloan here i NZ and found it v.interesting.
      What convinces me is the measurements of the excavations more than anything else.
      But then I do believe that we know a lot less about history than the academics say.

    • Thanks Pilgrim33. At the date of posting there is one copy available – from a Western Australian bookseller, and its going for AU$145.00.

    • craig says:

      I suddenly received an email from (The secret visitors project) actually the first one since 2012.
      Rather uplifting , to say the least ! Owing to this just happening, I discovered a link, to purchase a second hand copy. I immediately purchased it.
      This copy will replace the original copy I purchased back in the early 80s. Owing to a distrustful, dishonest, “Yet another Treasure Hunter” Ill actually drop a name “Paul Martino” Yes, that is the man, that stole my copy and simply would not return it !
      Such is life ! There are plenty of Paul Martinos in the world “Sadly”
      Thank you, whoever was responsible for the latest emails ! Im very thankful.
      May Allen Robinson rest in peace ! I guess he would be somewhere close to Davy Jones , locker ! In the deep !
      Sincerely Craig

    • Craig, you can thank blog reader Pilgrim33 for keeping his eyes peeled on your behalf. I suggest if Paul Martino wants to clear his name you’ll get that copy back too, and you wont need two. As it happens I could use a copy myself …

      For the rest of you this is genuine unsolicited proof that reading the Secret Visitors Project can be your path to right wrongs, fulfill life-long dreams and pursue happiness.

  9. Peter harris says:

    With respect to a possible Galena occurrence, you are quite correct in saying it may have been miss-identification, spicular hematite springs to mind (a kind of Iron ore)….though I suspect any prospector worth even half his salt would be able to easily Identify galena by is bright silver appearance, cubic nature and extreme weight. It should also be noted however that simply because a mineral such as Galena hasn’t been identified near-by, it certainly does not mean that such a deposit does not exist in that area.
    That aside, I agree with your conclusions and thoroughly enjoyed the read.

  10. Peter F. says:

    I met Allan Robinson in 1981 when he was living in a bohemian community in Hunter St, Bankstown, in western Sydney. I was given a copy of his book but lost it!
    Peter F.

    • Thanks Peter

      That would have been near the tragic end of his life. Robinson’s whole life was so entwined with the sea that it’s hard to imagine him even at Bankstown, which was only half an hour from the coast.

  11. Craig says:

    You have basically disrespected Allen Robinson, in regards to the man and his work as a Treasure Hunter.
    If I where him, I would never have involved a Nanny State museum, (Bunch of School Teachers Suedo Politicians) in any of my activities. In the 1960s it was normal to blow propellers from sunken Ship Wrecks.
    The world at that time had an essence of freedom, the nannie state was far away at that time. Allen Robinson was working for himself.
    The West Australian Maritime Museum where not doing any justice for Robinson.Nor where they paying his bills.They certainly didn’t want to pay these guys for their hard won finds.
    No, I stand by Allen Robinson. He was a fighter and any profiting from his activities and business where hard won.
    To me, he trusted people himself, on a personal level, then to be betrayed with disrespect as a profiteer.
    So, in respect of the dead, (Allen Robinson) keep an open mind, on his activities and not listen too much to,” in a pun”, cheap talk.
    The work of Allen Robinson, in some areas should be respected.
    The current media is and has been far too hard on the man.
    He liked the freedom he had and is now past for anybody that came after him. The freedoms he enjoyed as a so called self serving entrepreneur, treasure hunter and even explosives expert, should be put aside.
    I think Allen Robinson should be given the benefit of the doubt.
    If you require further argument on this subject, my email is
    Feel free !
    (Free? Lost forever)

    • Thanks for the comment Craig. Did you know or ever meet Robinson yourself?

      I’m not sure anyone’s ‘disrespecting’ Robinson by discussing just how complex his life turned out. The bulk of it is drawn from his own book and I was careful not to mix it up with the fictional Don Spargo character. In blowing up valuable historical wrecks to get at the few items that were sellable as treasure, his attitude was already out of synch in the 1960s with public opinion about the best way to preserve our heritage. But, to be fair, law-making had not kept up with reflecting peoples’ expectations in clear legislation at that time. As I said, his actions prompted significant legal changes.

      This blog looks at claims like those saying there is a Phoenician shipwreck in WA or an Egyptian pyramid north of Sydney that will change what we know about Australia’s history. I think its reasonable to expect, since its our collective history, that the claim has some merit before we start messing about with the history we’ve already got. In this blog I try to look at the evidence dispassionately and see how it stands up. This is not hard scrutiny – its the minimum I would apply to anything put forward by my professional colleagues. Allan Robinson put forward a story about his Phoenician shipwreck and galena mine, but I could not find a single piece of what he said that could be confirmed by an independent check. There is nothing there.

      Maybe Robinson was just seriously mistaken? Maybe he was having a leg-pull? Maybe he was telling an out and out lie? We can only guess at his motivation. But I wonder what his reaction would have been if he’d been challenged on it?

    • Craig says:

      I thank you for your reply, debate must prevail. My main argument is democracy. Allen Robinson was a doo-er. And he took his work serious. His work was serious enough to take on the Government. I take my hat off to the man. I am self employed have been all of my life, I well know his plight.
      So as soon as I can muster the time, I will send through a link which gives an interesting read, in regards to Allen Robinson.
      I once owned his book, but unfortunately had it removed from my possession, by yet another dishonest treasure hunter. He just didn’t have, basic integrity to return it. That was a long time ago.
      Allen Robertson was betrayed by many , right to the highest level of government. He felt, that he put in the work and he wanted compensation. like all of us, he wanted to pay his bills.
      I would like to purchase another copy if you where to know the whereabouts of an original copy, if one where to exist.
      Sincerely Craig

    • Cheers Craig.

      I’ve had to rely on a borrowed copy myself, and have never seen one on sale when I’ve checked the internet book-sellers. If anyone in SVP land is sitting on an unwanted copy of Allan Robinson’s, In Australia treasure is not for the finder, you know you’ve got two potential sales right here. I look forward to the additional material on Robinson.

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