What happened to Cunningham's buried bottle?
When Alan Cunningham, explorer and botanist, with his little party discovered Pandora Pass in June 1823, he rejoiced in heart, wrote a message which he buried in a bottle requesting that the message if found, be carried back to the settlement at Bathurst.
With his usual thought he planted nearby peach stones so their bearings would one day or other afford subsistence for the weary traveller on the route. It is commonly believed that Cunningham's bottle was never found, although the Rev. George Grimm writing in 1888, 65 years after the bottle was planted, said, "The bottle was found a few years ago and the explorer's directions carried out". There seems to be no authentic record of its find and Grimm's claim has been disputed by several historians.
George Grimm was born at Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland in 1833, of humble parents. His early education was of the scantiest kind, until he was brought under the influence of the Rev. James McCoch, who later was the President of Princeton College in the U.S.A. Later Mr McGrimm entered the Aberdeen Grammar, supporting himself by private teaching.
Despite great difficulties, he had a distinguished university career. He then entered the Free Presbyterian Church Theological Faculty again receiving honors. Before receiving his license to preach he offered himself to the Colonial Committee of his church to undertake work in the colonies.
He was appointed to Dalby in Queensland. In 1870 at the invitation of Dr. Lang of the Church George Grimm took charge of the Presbyterian Churches at Young and Grenfell. Nine years later his talents and service brought him the highest honor of his church. He was elected Moderator.
In 1880 Dr. Grimm accepted a call to his last charge at Balmain, where he laboured until his death in 1897. He left a window, three sons and six daughters. His eldest son, Herington, was member of the New South Wales
Legislative Assembly for Ashburnham in 1913-20 and Murrumbidgee in1920-1925 .
Dr. Grimm's love for nature was always keen. In later years he became an enthusiastic student of Australian Botany and Australian History. He wrote
"The Australian Explorer" and "The Concise History of Australia" beside contributing many articles to the "Town and Country Journal" and
"The Evening News". I have no newspaper article announcing Dr Grimm's
claim that Cunningham's buried bottle had been found. However, the following articles are contradictory to his claim.
In 1928 Colonel John McLean Arnott owner of the property adjoining Pandora Pass engaged Robert D FitzGerald Jr. to use bearings left by Cunningham to determine the position of Cunningham's camp site and if possible the location in which the bottle was buried. FitzGerald determined the position of the camp site upon which the Colonel then
erected a memorial stone which still exists today. He doubts whether the bottle was removed in 1888 as claimed by the Rev. George Grimm. If it was not removed, nevertheless, it possibly is no longer in existence; the grubbing out of trees or other causes could quite easily have destroyed it.
Ida Lee, well known historian, who has written about Cunningham's discovery of Pandora Pass, will not accept that the Rev. Grimm found the bottle or knew of its find. She is supported by C Brunsdon Fletcher, once Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, author of the book, "The Coolah Valley" and a frequent guest of Colonel Arnott at Coolah Creek.
We must not overlook that when Cunningham arrived at Pandora Pass he was welcomed by eleven Aboriginees, four from Mudgee and seven from the Nandoura tribe along the Talbragar River. It is possible that one found the bottle and had it taken back to William Lawson, explorer and early settler at Mudgee.