What are the stories of the Shipwreck Coast?

What are the stories of the Shipwreck Coast?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 06/03/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

Learn about the tragic history of the Great Ocean Road’s rocky coastline!

Australia’s Shipwreck Coast is part of the famous Great Ocean Road of Victoria. Starting from Moonlight Head to the tiny fishing village of Port Fairy. They gave the name to the region due to the 700 shipwrecked vessels which have submerged in the shore’s waters. Due to the sea everchanging from a peaceful, serene still, into a wild and dangerous.

The Region’s most famous Shipwreck

Listed as one of the Great Ocean Road’s most popular attractions; the Loch Ard. It is undoubtedly the region’s most well-known shipwreck, perishing in the coastal shore in 1878. The cargo ship was bound for Melbourne, approaching the Bass Strait when it became engulfed thick fog. The fog blinded Captain Gibb and his crew to the treacherous cliffs off Mutton Bird Island. Leading to the 1700 tonne ship crashing into the rocks with all but two of the 54 passengers on board lost at sea. The two remaining survivors were passenger Eva Carmichael and a cabin boy named Tom Pearce. They were both washed ashore into the beach cove, which is now known as Loch Ard Gorge to honour the fallen ship.

You can still see the ship nowadays, being a popular diving spot for swimmers. The rusting vessel is nestled 30 metres below the water’s surface right near the Mutton Bird Island. For those you don’t wish to jump in the freezing cold water, you can a number of the wreckage artefacts in Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum located in Warrnambool.

  • Marie Gabrielle

    In 1869, the ship Marie Gabrielle was delivering a cargo of tea all the way from China. However, the ship meets its dome when a South-Westerly gale caused it to swamp and smash just off from Moonlight head. Thankfully, all the crew survived, and you can still see its massive anchor on the Shipwreck coast when its low tide.

  • Fiji

    Just over 20years later in 1891, the iron barque Fiji had a similar experience to the Marie Gabrielle. However, the Fiji crew were not so lucky, with only fifteen members of the ship crew made it to safety, while the rest perished with the wreck. The wreck lies 7 metres below the water’s surface in a sandy gully, around 70 metres from Moonlight Head.

  • Antares

    They note the Antares as the last shipwreck along the Great Ocean Coast. It was travelling from Marseilles, France, towards Melbourne during World War I. It was very close to its destination when the sea became wild, leading to the ship to crash into the rocks off Peterborough. A local young boy saw the ships flares in the distance and thought it was the Germans invading. However, the townspeople brushed this off and thought nothing of the boy’s story. It wasn’t until two weeks later on the 13th of December 1914 when people started finding the remains of the ship, including the 24 dead passengers. The wreck can still be seen today 80 metres offshore to the Bay of Islands, sitting in the shallow 6 metres of water.

Related article: The 12 Apostles – Discovering Australia’s Limestone Marvels

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.