Crossing the world on a steamship in 1969, 13-year-old Paul Gilmore decided he'd seek out a new penpal. He now has one, in the form of a 9-year-old boy who discovered Gilmore's message in a bottle on a beach in South Australia. The yellowed note on Sitmar Line stationary, dated November 17, 1969, was one of several notes slipped into bottles Gilmore dropped into the Indian Ocean from the TSS Fairstar as his family traveled from England to Australia in search of a better life almost 50 years ago. "He sent about six of them so it's good that one of them has surfaced," sister Annie Crossland tells ABC Australia. She adds Gilmore, now a UK resident, will "be chuffed to bits" by the news—once he returns from a Baltic cruise.
"Please reply," Gilmore had written in the letter, which described him as traveling from Fremantle, Australia, to Melbourne—the final stretch in a month-long journey that started in Southampton, England. An oceanographer believes the bottle was probably at sea for a year or two before it was buried on a beach, then exposed by a storm, reports the AP. Jyah Elliott, who found the note while fishing with his father, sent his reply to the address given, but Gilmore's family had moved locally within months of arriving in Australia and returned to England in 1973. ABC was able to trace Gilmore through relatives. "It's amazing, absolutely incredible," Crossland tells the outlet. (The world's oldest message in a bottle was also found in Australia.)