In Triabunna, a small coastal town in Tasmania, there is a seafarers’ memorial plaque for six men who drowned at sea on 21st November 1896. Sub-Inspector George Eppingstall from the Spring Bay District is one of the six men who drowned when returning to Triabunna from Maria Island. George Arthur Eppingstall was born in Campbell Town, a farming town in the midlands area of Tasmania. In 1827, his father, William Hippenstall arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on the ship Asia3 to serve out his sentence. George’s mother, Mary Ann also a convict arrived a few years after William. Researching George Eppingstall’s history revealed variations in the spelling of the name ‘Eppingstall’. His date of appointment to the Municipal Police at Spring Bay as a constable was recorded (and spelt Eppingstall) in the Mercury newspaper when the Council met to consider the applications for the office of constable on 26th May 1880. (Mercury June 9th 1880). He served for 16 years obtaining the rank of Sergeant and then Sub-Inspector. In 1884, the Tasmanian News declared in theior Spring Bay news that “the vacant sergeant’s appointment was conferred on Constable Eppingstall.” (Tasmanian News, 1884, p.3). He went on to advance through the ranks to an inspector; the first source referring to this rank appears in a newspaper article of 1889, reporting on a search party looking for a lost child in the bush, reference is made to George Eppingstall as Sub-Inspector Eppingstall who led the search party. (Mercury, 1889, p.3). On Friday 20th November 1896, a boat carrying six men hit a severe storm in Spring Bay; all the men drowned and parts of the boat were found on the rocks in the vicinity of a small island known as Lachlan Island. The men were returning from Maria Island where they had supervised the sale of seized property. (Mercury, 1896, p.2) Two police officers were on the boat with a blacksmith, a publican, a shoemaker and the boatman. All men were declared to have drowned and their deaths are recorded in the Deaths in the District of Spring Bay December 1896. George Arthur Eppingstall’s death is registered (No.318) as a 44 year old police officer who accidentally drowned. In December 1896, a Buckland correspondent writing for the Mercury remarked, “much sympathy is felt here for the bereaved ones in the late terrible boating disaster at Spring Bay, as all of the deceased were well known. Sub-Inspector Eppingstall was stationed here for many years, and had only recently been moved to Spring Bay.”

Search Again

National Police Memorial Australia

  • The National Police Memorial is located in Kings Park on the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin adjacent to Queen Elizabeth II Island and the National Carrillion. View in Google maps