Queensland man finds message in bottle before getting key twist on sender


It was a sight that made Darrell Barba’s heart pound—the blue-gray profile of Banjo Paterson, almost as if it were staring up at him, on a $10 bill.

“I thought: I’m working on it now,” he told 7NEWS.

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Barba was in the mangroves near Mackay looking for mud muscles when he saw the clear bottle “with a little color in it”.

His hopes that it was “full of money” were quickly dashed when he could only see the single $10 bill.

What he did find, however, was more intriguing.

Barba found the bottle in the mangroves at Midge Point. Credit: 7NEWS

“I just saw that there was also a postcard rolled up, you know, and a faded note,” he said.

“We tried to get it through the bottleneck with tweezers, but we were destroying it.

“So I had to break it, break the bottle.”

The postcard revealed that it was “dropped backwards from the (cruise ship) Sun Princess on Christmas Day (December 25) 2011” in the “middle Tasman Sea”.

The message in a bottle. Credit: 7NEWS

There were also clues.

“To the finder of the whiskey bottle with this card, please fill it in. Found:” … “In mangroves at Midge Point, Queensland, 19/6/22.”

There was also a name and address for return: John Reed in Sydney.

“I think it’s pretty amazing that it floated around the Pacific, or maybe the world,” Reed said.

Darrell Barba found the bottle in mangroves near Mackay. Credit: 7NEWS

“The ship was about halfway from New Zealand to Brisbane when the bottle was thrown off.”

While Barba was able to find Reed to return the bottle, there’s one final twist to this story: Reed didn’t actually send the message in the bottle.

It was his good buddy, Tony Potter.

Potter, a whiskey-loving prankster, “probably just thought it was a good idea at the time,” Reed said.

“He’s a bit of a character, Tony,” Reed said.

“That’s the kind of thing he did. I wouldn’t have done it myself, but that was his idea of ​​a joke.”

Sydney man John Reed. Credit: 7NEWS

Unfortunately, it’s a joke that Potter hasn’t been able to laugh at.

“I’d like to call him and tell him the bottle has been found and talk to him,” Reed said.

“But he passed away last year, so I’d have to have a really long phone cord.

“He would be thrilled if the bottle actually showed up.”