Oskar Speck collection




A collection of approximately 600 items relating to Oskar Speck's voyage to Australia by kayak 1932-1939, his internment in Australia during World War II and his life in Australia post war. The collection includes equipment used on the voyage, journals, letters, photographs, fittings from Speck's kayak, pennants and miniature flags, 16mm film of Speck's voyage, photographs, oral history interviews with Speck and others, newspaper clippings (German and English), magazines, passports, postcards, business cards and a model of his kayak made by a German internee at the Tatura Internment Camps in Victoria, Australia.

Oskar Speck was 25 years old when he left Germany to find work in Cyprus. It was the Depression year of 1932 and he set off down the Danube River in a collapsible kayak called SONNENSCHEIN (SUNSHINE). But this brief Mediterranean expedition became an epic seven-year, 50 000 km voyage to Australia. What made this voyage more remarkable was the fact that Speck could not swim and tied himself into the kayak. Speck arrived on Saibai Island in the Torres Strait just three weeks after World War II was declared in 1939. He was interned in Australia for over six years. After the war Speck stayed in Australia becoming a successful opal cutter before retiring to the NSW central coast. He died in 1995 after a long illness.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM web site


1920s-2002; Boating; Internment camps; Kayaking; Paddling; Travel; War



Oskar Speck

Coverage Spatial

Torres Straight; Mediterranian Sea; Danube River; South East Asia; Australia; India; Indonesia; New Guinea; Middle East; Germany

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:40