The British author of a 50-year-old message in a bottle that washed up on an Australian beach has been found – and is at sea again.
A then 13-year-old Paul Gilmore threw his message over the side of a ship on 17 November 1969, as he and his family were emigrating to Australia.
The message was found this week by Paul Elliott and his nine-year-old son Jyah on Talia Beach in South Australia.
The boy’s mother, Carla Elliott, said he was “so excited”, though he initially worried it might be a fake.
Ms Elliott posted an image of the letter on Facebook to try and locate Mr Gilmore, said the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Eventually, his sister, Annie Crossland, was found, and she said Mr Gilmore is currently on a cruise in the Baltic Sea.
“It’s amazing, absolutely incredible,” she told the Australian broadcaster. “He’ll be chuffed to bits.”
A teenage Mr Gilmore said in the message that he was travelling on a ship called the Fairstar, which took many British migrants to Australia.
He urged whoever would find it to write back, and left an address for a house in Victoria.
“We are 1000 miles east of Fremantle, Western Australia … please reply,” he wrote.
Jyah put his reply in the post this week, sending it to the address that was originally provided.
Mr Gilmore’s sister, also aboard the Fairstar when the family moved to Australia, said she remembered him “writing letters and putting them in bottles”.
“He sent about six of them,” she told ABC. “So it’s good that one of them has surfaced”.
“I don’t remember where he got the bottles from… [but] I remember my dad saying it cost him a fortune in drinks on the ship.”
Paul Gilmore’s younger brother David, who was four when the family emigrated, said he could recognise the handwriting in the message.
“It’s really strange. I’m looking at the message now and yeah, I can see it’s my brother’s writing – he’s obviously a bit younger then.
“I’m amazed. It obviously brings back fantastic memories of moving to Australia.”