In 1932, with Germany in the midst of Depression and about to gamble on a Nazi government, young Oskar Speck from Hamburg decided to try his luck with a grand adventure. He would paddle his Faltboot – a collapsible kayak – from Germany to Cyprus, where he hoped to make his fortune in copper mines. His route took him down the Danube and into the Mediterranean. Having reached his original goal, Speck decided to paddle on, setting Australia as his new destination. After paddling most of the length of the Euphrates he then hugged the coast of Pakistan and India before reaching the Malacca Strait, the Dutch East Indies and then New Guinea. After he rounded the eastern end of New Guinea he proceeded to Saibai Island in the Northern Torres Strait, reaching it just days after Australia declared war with Germany. As Speck was travelling on a German passport, he was promptly arrested as an ‘enemy alien’ on his arrival on Thursday Island. Speck was detained at the Tatura internment camp in Victoria, and after escaping and being recaptured spent the rest of the war in Loveday. After the war he travelled to Lightning Ridge to work in the opal industry before settling in Sydney. He died in 1993.
NAA: D1901 S1492, SPECK, Oskar - Internment