News of wreckage found washed up on beaches gradually trickled in—from Hinchinbrook Island to Bowen, but there was no sign of the vessel or of those on board. Hope was abandoned by the following Wednesday after scores of vessels scoured the coast and found no trace. The only body ever found was that of the racehorse Moonshine, washed up at the mouth of Gordon Creek, not far from Ross Creek, Townsville.
Many theories were put forward regarding the ship's possible location and reason for loss. Some speculated that it had been rendered helpless due to some unknown mishap between Whitsunday Passage and Cape Bowling Green or been overpowered by the extreme force of the wind; perhaps the anchors had been dropped causing the boat to slew broadside into the wind; others thought it had hit a submerged reef between Flinders Passage and Keeper Reef or run into Nares Rock, or even struck Cape Upstart.
The Queensland government offered a £1,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of the ship. This was eventually withdrawn, as nothing of the vessel was ever heard. Communities throughout eastern and Southern Australia commemorated the tragedy in churches and village halls. Donations were offered to the "Yongala distress" fund, begun in March 1911 for the relief of families in distress. It ended on 30 September 1914, with an amount of £900 which had not been disbursed and which was credited to the Queensland Shipwreck Society.