I have been researching the life and times of the marine artist Sir Oswald Brierly (1817-94), who came to Australia with the notorious Scottish-born adventurer, entrepreneur and politician Ben Boyd (1801-51).
In conducting my research in Sydney, I discovered the grave of the English mariner Captain Owen Stanley (1811-50), after whom the Papua New Guinean mountain range is named.
Owen Stanley’s final resting place is an unmarked and unkempt but still impressive grave on a tract of land in the Sydney suburb of Cammeray.
In December 1846 Stanley had sailed from Portsmouth in England in charge of HMS Rattlesnake with two eminent naturalists on board.
Meanwhile Ben Boyd’s an up-and-down business career was in a down period and he became bankrupt.
Brierly had to find another job and, in 1848, was employed by Captain Owen Stanley as his artist on a marine survey of the Torres Strait and the waters between the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef.
Newspaper cuttings of the time said he received a naval funeral at St Thomas Church in St Leonards and was buried in the same suburb.
There is no cemetery attached to St Thomas Church but, in the 1840s, the wealthy landowner, Alexander Berry, distressed that there was no cemetery to bury his recently deceased wife, had donated four acres about a mile away on West Street in what is now in the suburb of Cammeray.
Cemetery records record that Owen Stanley is also buried there, but there is no tombstone or plaque.
Brierly went on to a brilliant career. After many other adventures he achieved artistic fame as official artist to the first royal visit to Australia, became head of the Royal Naval Art Gallery at Greenwich and was later appointed Queen Victoria's official marine artist, receiving a knighthood.
But Captain Owen Stanley these days is remembered best for the majestic mountain range in Papua New Guinea that bears his name.