World's oldest 'message in a bottle' washes up on Australian beach

The bottle was thrown from a German ship in June 1886

The world's oldest message in a bottle has been discovered on a Western Australian beach.

Perth resident Tonya Illman came upon the 132-year-old bottle while out walking near Wedge Island in late January.

Mrs Illman said she picked it up thinking it "might look nice on display" in her home before realising what she had come across.

After discovering a "neatly rolled, damp note, tied with a piece of string" inside the bottle Mrs Illman placed it in a warm oven at her family home to dry it out.

After opening it, she found a roll of paper printed in German and dated to 12 June 1886 - which was later authenticated by the Western Australian Museum.

The bottle had been thrown overboard by the German research ship Paula and - according to the museum had travelled 950km across the Indian Ocean 950km to Australia.

At the time, a 69-year experiment was underway that saw German ships throwing thousands of bottles into the sea to track ocean currents.

The messages were marked with the ship’s coordinates, the date, and the name of the ship.

The museum was able to track down the Paula's maritime records and they included an entry confirming that it had been thrown overboard by Captain O. Diekmann on 12 June 1886 at the exact co-ordinates on the note while on a voyage from Cardiff to Macassar in the Duthch East Indies.

The previous record for the oldest message in a bottle was 108 years.

You can see photographs of the bottle and message here.