How an object found on a beach could rewrite history

Warren Rowlands and his
Warren Rowlands and his "cannonball" at Riverview. Craig Warhurst

A BUNDABERG man's fossicking expedition along Riverview could re-write Australian history.

Warren Rowlands has uncovered a cannonball that he believes could date back to before the Captain Cook era.

Mr Rowlands, who is a rock and stone collector, said he was searching the shoreline at Riverview for unique stones three months ago when he stumbled across the round object.

"I picked it up and at the time I thought it was just a funny shaped rock that had been rolling around in the tides," he said.

"I took it home to show my mates and then left it on a shelf."

GREAT FIND: Warren Rowlands shows his cannonball tattoo.
GREAT FIND: Warren Rowlands shows his cannonball tattoo. Mike Knott

Mr Rowlands said the object stayed at his home, forgotten about, until a few days ago when a twist of fate occurred that led him to believe the sphere was more than just a rock.

"I accidentally knocked it and it rolled off the bench and split open at my feet," he said. "I smelt gun powder and looked down and thought, whoa, how lucky is that. I thought it had to be a cannonball or something."


GREAT FIND: Warren Rowlands with his cannonball.
GREAT FIND: Warren Rowlands with his cannonball. Mike Knott BUN210716CANNONBALL5

Mr Rowlands took the object to Bakers Military Memorabilia Museum in Childers where he said he was was told that it was a cannonball and looked to pre-date the Captain Cook era.

Owner of the museum Allan Baker said, although he did not want to put a date on the object, he believed it was very old.

"It is definitely a cannonball, a small one that has been in the sand for a long time," Mr Baker said.

"It is very hard to put a date on something like that. It is a bit of a mystery.

"Warren is fortunate that the cannonball is in such an old condition otherwise, when he dropped it, it could have gone bang."

Warren Rowlands thinks he has found a cannonball at River Heads.
Warren Rowlands thinks he has found a cannonball at River Heads. Craig Warhurst

The NewsMail sent photos to the Queensland Museum.

At first, researchers thought the object was just a rock but later geologists confirmed it wasn't.

A Queensland Museum Discovery Centre spokesman said the item could in fact be a small cannonball from an Indonesian vessel or a 17th to 18th century grenade.

If any of this is true, it could mean Indonesians were on the east coast before Captain Cook.

The museum will confirm their findings later in the week.

Mr Rowlands said if the object hadn't broken when it did, he would have presumed it was an unusual shaped rock and thrown it away eventually.

He said he was ecstatic about his finding.

"To hold something that could be that old is just incredible," he said.

"It is better than finding a lump of gold. Everyone finds lumps of gold but not everyone finds cannonballs."

He said he plans to pass it on to a museum once the historic dates are verified.


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