The Loch Ard Shipwreck
Probably the best known of all the shipwrecks in Victoria is the wreck of the Loch Ard and the story of survival surrounding it.
She was bound for Melbourne from England, loaded with passengers and cargo. In the early hours of June 1, 1878, she ran into a rocky reef at the base of Mutton Bird Island, near Port Campbell.
Tragedy & Survival
Of the 54 crew members and passengers on board, only two survived: a ships apprentice, Tom Pearce and a young woman passenger, Eva Carmichael, who sadly lost her entire 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 two shipwreck survivors spent time to recover at nearby Glenample Station. Tom Pearce travelled on to Melbourne, where he received a hero's welcome upon his arrival.
There were strong hopes at the time that the couple would be drawn together through the tragedy, find love and marry, but that was never to be. Eva stayed at the station for six weeks before returning to Ireland, this time by steamship.
The Wreck Today
The wreck still lies at the base of Mutton Bird Island and much of the cargo has been salvaged. Cargo and artefacts have also been illegally salvaged over the years, including the ships bell, which was handed in to Heritage Victoria in 2004.
A Priceless Relic
The best known piece of cargo to have survived the shipwreck was a Minton porcelain peacock, destined for the 1880 International Exhibition in Melbourne. It would never have survived the violent storm which battered the stricken Loch Ard, if not for the way it was carefully packed. The Minton peacock is permanently on display at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warrnambool.
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