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Loch Ard

Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Advanced Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

Iron Clipper Sailing Barque | Max Depth: 25 metres (82 feet)

Loch Ard
Loch Ard
© Unknown

The Loch Ard is historically significant as one of Victoria and Australia's worst shipwreck tragedies. It is archaeologically significant for its remains of a large international passenger and cargo ship. It is highly educationally and recreationally significant as one of Victoria's most spectacular diving sites, and popular tourist sites in Port Campbell National Park.

Diving the Loch Ard

The shipwreck of the Loch Ard lies on the south-west side of Mutton Bird Island, five nautical miles from Port Campbell. It covers a wide area, and has a length of 80 metres (262 feet).

The site extends from 10 metres (33 feet) to 25 metres (82 feet) depth. At 10 metres a large section of hull lies concreted to a collection of railway irons. At 15 metres, lead and zinc sheet rolls, copper artefacts such as scissors, ceramics, pewter mugs and ink wells can be seen.

Extensive hull plating is strewn over the site. The bow is relatively intact with its bowsprit jammed under a rock. Nearby, lie the Loch Ard's anchors. On the port side of the bow, divers can see a section of the hull with deadeyes (used to secure rigging). The port side of the hull has actually collapsed down the side of Mutton Bird Island spilling its contents.

The ship's frames extend back to a section of the starboard side of the hull. In this part of the wreck, the hull leans against the island to form a cave.

The stern of the ship has not been found and has possibly broken up over time.

One of two located anchors was raised for the Loch Ard centenary year in 1978 by a consortium of dive groups organised by Peter Stone of the Scuba Divers Federation of Victoria (SDFV), and including boats and divers from the Victorian Sub Aqua Group (VSAG).

Back at Port Campbell, the submerged wreck of the steamship Napier, associated with the wreck of the Loch Ard, can be seen near the pier.

Diving on the Loch Ard requires calm conditions and a very low swell. The best months to dive the shipwreck are March, April and May.

Ther anchorage is in 25 to 30 metres of water and even on relatively calm days, the backwash from Mutton Bird Island can be quite severe. there is also a risk of changeable weather on this part of the coast. care must be taken to avoid the wave break east of Port Cambell at the entrance to the inlet.

Loch Ard Dive Site Map
Loch Ard Dive Site Map | © Victorian Archaeological Survey

Loch Ard History

The wreck of the 1693 ton iron clipper Loch Ard is one of Victoria's best known and tragic shipwrecks. Nearing the end of a voyage from Gravesend to Melbourne, the Loch Ard sank after striking Mutton Bird Island near Port Campbell in calm foggy weather and 52 of the 54 crew and passengers were lost. A nearby gorge into which the only two survivors, 18 year olds Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael were able to get ashore is named Loch Ard Gorge.

The Loch Ard's cargo included 2375 tons general cargo including copper and lead, building materials, bottled goods, marble fireplaces, gaslight fittings, railway iron, and exhibits destined for the 1880 International Exhibition, to mark the official opening of the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings in 1880. The famous majolica ware Minton Peacock which was to be the main exhibit was found floating in its packing case at the time of the wreck, and is currently on display in Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum.

Contemporary salvage and pilfering of washed up cargo on beaches occurred, and one major salvage effort ended when the 90 ton PS Napier sank after striking rocks inside Port Campbell Bay.

See also, Wikipedia: Loch Ard (ship),
Australian National Shipwreck Database: Loch Ard,
Heritage Council Victoria: Loch Ard, and
Dive Information Sheet: Loch Ard (1873-1878) (Adobe PDF | 705.9 KB).

Latitude: 38° 39.060′ S   (38.651° S / 38° 39′ 3.6″ S)
Longitude: 143° 4.300′ E   (143.071667° E / 143° 4′ 18″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-05-14 07:46:07 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Newfield, 14,124 m, bearing 281°, W
Square rigged iron sailing ship.
Depth: 25 m.

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

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