Message in a bottle: mystery man comes forward | Photos

The man who found a 28-year-old message in a bottle at Wonboyn says the history behind it is what prompted him to try and track down the sender.

Eden resident Richie Reynolds was working with an Aboriginal landcare group to clean an area around Wonboyn Lake a fortnight ago, when he came across the bottle under a group of trees.

It had been thrown overboard off Gabo Island by an 18-year-old Andre Robert way back in 1986.

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An avid explorer, Richie said he collects old bottles and other artefacts, but has never found one with a message inside.

“I couldn’t believe there was actually a message inside it,” he said.

“I showed my boss and we got a group of my colleagues around to open it.

“When we read it, the others weren’t too bothered, but I was determined to know the story of it, so I went out of my way to go and see if I could find the person who wrote it.”

When Richie followed the instructions on the note, he arrived at Andre’s former residence to learn that the fisherman now lives in Perth.

Andre’s mother, Lyn, was so surprised that she forgot to take down Richie’s details, and he left without the $50 reward that the message had promised the finder.

“It wasn’t about the money for me,” Richie said.

“I actually called [Andre] and spoke to him about it – he said the boat he threw it from might have been the Sapphire Star, which his brother was on when it went down.

“There’s so much history and that’s why I wanted to go through with it.”

Richie came forward after an enormous response to the story on the Magnet’s Facebook page, with the story having been seen by over 15,500 people since it was posted on Monday night.

He said he is amazed by the response, as are the Robert family.

“At the time, everyone was doing it so I just thought, ‘Why not?’,” Andre Robert said.

“I was out on a trawler – either the Sapphire Star or the Lochiel – and we were either fishing or anchored off Gabo Island when I threw it over.

“I hoped it would go overseas, maybe to New Zealand or up further to somewhere like the Philippines or Fiji.

“It makes sense though, with the big sou’westers that it would go down into Disaster Bay and into the Wonboyn River.”

“It’s just amazing though – after 28 years I would have thought it would break or sink, or just fill up with water – I never thought it would still be in one piece.”

Andre’s mother, Lyn, joked that her son now owes her after she honoured the $50 reward.

“He better get me a big Christmas present!”, she laughed.

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