Vale Hugh Edwards, WA Treasure


Hugh Edwards


It is with sadness that we report the death of acclaimed WA author, diver, historian and shark expert Hugh Edwards.

Hugh, 90, was recognised for his role in the discovery of Dutch East India Company shipwrecks off Australia’s west coast.

His acclaimed book Island Of Angry Ghosts chronicles the bloodthirsty mutiny which followed the wreck of the Batavia in 1629 and the search for the wreck in the 1960s.



Born in July 1933, Hugh was the son of an Englishman who became professor of English at the University of Western Australia.

He was educated at Hale School and Geelong Grammar and ended up working as a reporter on the Daily News.

With his passion for diving and maritime history, he cut a dashing figure in the newsroom, largely occupied by desk jockeys. In the 1960s he persuaded the newspaper to finance several successful expeditions in search of ancient Dutch shipwrecks.



After leaving the Daily News he made a successful career as an author, producing more than 30 books, published in six languages in 10 countries. He was awarded the Order of Australia medal in 2009 “for services to Australia’s maritime heritage through the discovery of historic shipwrecks and as an author”.



Hugh, father of three, (Christopher, deceased, Caroline and Petrana) was a WA icon, but his loss is also personal. He was a close friend of Starfish writer Margot Lang for more than 70 years, since they met as young reporters at the Daily News.

Starfish publisher Peter Rigby interviewed Hugh  several times over the years and we replay our most recent interview below. Our deepest sympathy to Athena Paton and to all those who

knew and loved Hugh.

Hugh, we shall miss you, your wealth of knowledge about sharks,  shipwrecks and all things nautical, and your considered opinions.

Rest in peace.


Our last interview with Hugh Edwards.

Hugh Edwards on Finding a New WA Shipwreck

7 thoughts on “Vale Hugh Edwards, WA Treasure

  1. Wonderful tribute, wonderful pics !! ….It captures the great man well Jacqueline…

    Hugh’s books on the Batavia and his ‘Sharks and Shipwrecks’ were two of the highlights in my early life as a diver. I met him while working on the Rapid on the Ningaloo Reef as part of Graeme Henderson’s team….I still remember the day when we were anchored inside the passage at Norwegian Bay Whaling station seeing this little ‘tinnie’ speeding towards us, it was running parallel to the swells that were the rolling into the passage, the lone figure on board disappearing in the trough of each swell and reappearing as they lifted him back into sight…

    Who’s that? I asked incredulously… Oh, its Hugh, come up to do a film was the reply… An indelible memory and he has been in my lfe ever since.

  2. Lovely article on a great West Australian. I remember him very fondly, particularly for his love of animals – an endearing quality in such a fearless adventurer.

  3. Thank you so much for this beautiful and comprehensive memoriam to my uncle Hugh. I have shared it with his daughters Caroline and Petrana, my sister Cathy and my mother, Hugh’s sister Elizabeth. At present Hugh’s companion Athena is too distraught to manage the many emails, but I know she will appreciate this tribute too.

  4. A great tribute to Hugh Edwards, thanks Jacquie.
    He was a good friend of our father, Michael Shallcross and they bother were early adopters of Scuba diving in WA. They were the same age and both attended Hale School.
    Kind regards,
    Romola Nocum ( nee Shallcross)

  5. A great West Australian. And a fitting tribute Jac.
    Born one month before my father Raymond George Cant, Hugh spoke in Pete’s excellent video interview of the (in)famous Fremantle shark catcher ‘Sharky Nelson’. I suspect my dad would have known him well too. Alas, sadly, I can’t check in with him as he left Freo and this world 10 years ago. Such great characters they were, those of the 1930’s vintage. Tough too.

    1. Thanks Brendon, and you are right, there is something special about those 1930s children!

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