Famous Shipwrecks along the Great Ocean Road
There are many famous shipwrecks scattered along the length of the Great Ocean Road. There are few coastlines as infamous for shipwrecks as Victoria's South West Coast, otherwise known as the Shipwreck Coast. Over 200 ships in total met their fate along this rugged and isolated coastline, more than any other single stretch of coastline in Australia.
Probably the best known of all the famous shipwrecks in Victoria is the wreck of the Loch Ard and the story of survival surrounding it.
Loch Ard ran into a rocky reef at the base of Mutton Bird Island, near Port Campbell. Only two people survived: an apprentice, Tom Pearce and a young woman passenger, Eva Carmichael, who lost all of her family in the tragedy. The two were washed up and eventually rescued at what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge, named after the shipwreck.
The Mahogany Ship
For over a century and a half the mystery of the "Mahogany Ship" has captured the imagination of many Australians.
In January 1836, three whalers from Port Fairy were sailing to the mouth of the Hopkins River when their boat overturned, killing one of them. The two survivors were walking back to Port Fairy along the coast when they discovered the wrecked ship in the sand dunes.
They reported it as being made of hard dark timber – "like mahogany" giving rise to the name. The ship’s hull design was also reported as vastly different from the vessels which sailed the local waters in the early 19th century.
More than 30 other accounts of the wreck were recorded until the 1880s.
Many people believe the "Mahogany Ship" to be a Spanish or Portuguese exploration ship from the 1500s, while others believe it is nothing more than a local legend, as there has been no solid evidence that the wreck existed at all.
Falls of Halladale
The Falls of Halladale is best known for her spectacular demise near Peterborough in 1908. Due to a navigational error, she was sailed directly onto rocks in dense fog. The crew of 29 made it safely to shore by boat, leaving the ship foundering with her sails unfurled.
For weeks after the wreck large crowds gathered to view the ship as she gradually broke up and then sank in the shallow water. This photo of Picnickers taking in the intriguing view of the stricken ship is the most recognised photo of the wreck.
Relics of the Past
Most of the shipwrecks along the coast have long since disappeared, but there are a number of relics still visible from the shore.
Two of the most striking and well known relics are the rock embedded Anchors of the Fiji, and the Marie Gabrielle, located at the appropriately named Wreck Beach. These visually striking anchors serve as a permanent memorial to those who perished here.
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