A secret hidden in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean is finally bubbling to the surface. On Friday 14 March, 2008, searchers found part of the hull of the World War II German raider ship, the HSK Kormoran, some two and a half kilometres below the surface and 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, near Shark Bay. Then on Sunday 16 March, some 12 nautical miles away, they found the HMAS Sydney, the ship destroyed by the Kormoran on November 19, 1941, with the loss of all 645 crew.
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, confirmed, "I'm advised the HMAS Sydney was found some eight nautical miles from the scene of the principal battle site and at a depth of some 2,470 metres. I'm advised that the hull of the HMAS Sydney has been determined to be largely intact. The Australian Government hopes that the discovery brings some closure to the families of the 645 Australian defence force personnel who lost their lives bravely in this naval action in World War II.
"This will be a hard day for family members associated with the Sydney, this was over 65 years ago but pain and family loss, even at 65 years removed, is still pain, and very deep pain."
Someone who knows that pain is Bob Honour who was just four years old when his father Charles died on board the HMAS Sydney. "I'm so excited, I feel like I'm four years old again!" he beams. "It's just the most wonderful, wonderful news to think that eventually we can say it's all over."
The feeling for Mr Honour in the intervening years, though, has been one of annoyance. "Like you wouldn't believe. Because why did they put a 50 year code of silence on it? Because they wanted to keep it quiet. In 1991, why did they extend the code of silence for another 25 years? I feel that we've had some sort of victory now because we might know the end result before the 75 years' silence is up.
"We have lived in anger that this was not done 25 [or] 45 years ago."
Today emotions have changed though. And Mr Honour even remarks, "My wife keeps on saying she looks at me in the eyes and says 'take a deep breath!' My first dozen phone calls this morning, I went to water a little bit. I'm getting control now but it is terribly hard because I haven't known how my father died for 66 years."
The emotion is also to do with the rest of Mr Honour's family. "Mum has gone and my brother who was a year older than me has gone too. I've still got the telegram that Mum received from the War Department on the 26 of November. She was a young girl with two children and no money… we had to move back to Grandpa's house."
But now that there is a little more certainty about what happened to his family, Mr Honour wants the HMAS Sydney to stay just where it is. "Leave it absolutely alone," he confirms, "and make a huge memorial in the Canberra War Memorial and create a tomb for the Unknown Sailor, and make something special out of it."
There is already a major memorial in Geraldton to the Sydney and its crew, as Ian Carpenter, Mayor of Geraldton and Greenough points out.
And this is an event that has touched on many people. Callers phoned to share their excitement about the news and we also heard from Faye whose father was an Able Seaman on the Sydney. "I'm excited, it's quite momentous. My mother died three years after he died of a broken heart, she just couldn't handle it.
"There's an element of anger [too] because the Government could have done this a long, long time ago and they failed to do so. It's just extraordinary that it's now been found. My mother was seven months pregnant [at the time of the sinking]. It's also my daughter's birthday, so it's quite an extraordinary time for it to happen.
"I agree, it should be a war grave, it should be left, and I never wanted it to be raised, I just wanted it to be found."
It has been found.