West Coast Shipwreck Trail

Guide to the Historic Shipwreck Trail on Victoria's West Coast

There are approximately 638 known shipwrecks along Victoria's coast, although only around 240 of them have been discovered. The Historic Shipwreck Trail along the Shipwreck Coast and the Discovery Coast shows some of the sites where gales, human error and, in some cases, foul play caused these vessels to be wrecked.

As you tour along this rugged coastline, look for the road signs that lead to information plaques overlooking the cliffs and sandy beaches.

Each site reveals more about our maritime history in the days of sail and steam, when Bass Strait was the route to the riches of the goldfields and Portland was the gateway to a new life in Victoria.

The small coastal traders and large ships carrying vital cargo and immigrants between Europe, America and the new colonies of Australia often battled severe storms, not only in the treacherous waters of Bass Strait, but also at anchor in the precarious safety of Portland Bay.

Discovery Coast and Shipwreck Coast

The first stage of the trail, the Shipwreck Coast from Port Fairy to Moonlight Head, was established in 1990 to highlight the importance of shipping and navigation in the development of Victoria. The second stage, the Discovery Coast between Port Fairy and the South Australian border, was opened in 1993.

Discovery Coast
South Australian Border to Portland

Discovery Coast - South Australian Border to Portland
Discovery Coast - South Australian Border to Portland

Nelson

At the mouth of the Glenelg River, 5 km from the South Australian border, lies the picturesque village of Nelson. Established in the 1840s the settlement was known simply as 'The Punt', although four town blocks were gazetted in 1852 as Nelson. Since the 1830s strong southerly winds have driven many ships onto the shores of the Discovery Coast near here.

Cape Nelson Lighthouse

Because of the number of tragic shipwrecks, the Victorian Government had a lighthouse constructed at Cape Nelson in 1883. Information regarding tours of the lighthouse can be obtained from Parks Victoria.

1 — S.S. Perseverance 1890–1898 (not found)

The S.S. Perseverance was wrecked on the sandbar at the mouth of the Glenelg River whilst attempting a voyage from Nelson to the river Murray in South Australia.

2 — The Triumph 1840–1863 (not found)

The Western Australian-built schooner The Triumph disappeared whilst on a voyage from Port MacDonnell to Port Adelaide. The remains of the vessel were later found cast ashore at Discovery Bay. There were no survivors.

3 — John Ormerod 1826 - 1861 (not found)

The English-built schooner John Ormerod came ashore east of the Glenelg River mouth, after having been blown over on to its side whilst off Cape Bridgewater. Only three of the crew survived.

4 — Marie 1851 (not found)

The barque Marie, on a voyage from Antwerp to Sydney via Adelaide, was wrecked off Cape Bridgewater in September 1851. All on board, including the Belgian Consul, were drowned.

5 — Jane 1863 (not found)

Poor visibility caused the schooner Jane to be wrecked at Cape Bridgewater in June 1863. A local resident, Waldy Hedditch, was drowned during the rescue attempt.

6 — S.S. Barwon 1863–1871

The steamship S.S. Barwon sank in Bridgewater Bay after striking a reef off Cape Bridgewater during foggy weather. The remains of the vessel can still be seen from the cliffs overlooking the bay.

7 — Isabella 1826–1837

When Captain Hart of the Isabella mistook Lady Julie Percy Island for Cape Nelson in 1837 he plotted a course that took the barque into the cliffs of the Cape. All on board were saved.

Discovery Coast
Portland to Port Fairy

Discovery Coast - Portland to Port Fairy
Discovery Coast - Portland to Port Fairy

8 — Captain Cook 1847–1850 (not found)

The Australian-built schooner Captain Cook was wrecked at the top of Cape Nelson Bay during a sudden southeasterly gale.

9 — Emily S 1991

The Emily S, a 30 metre long steel trawler, was sunk in 1991 off Lawrence Rocks by Professional Diving Services Dive Club Inc., to provide a safe and convenient wreck dive for sports divers.

Emily S

Wreck Dive Boat access
Advanced Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 24.500′ S   (38.408333° S / 38° 24′ 30″ S)
Longitude: 141° 40.000′ E   (141.666667° E / 141° 40′ 0″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-23 21:56:06 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: New Zealander, 9,103 m, bearing 326°, NW
Tug.
Max Depth: 24 m.
See the Emily S dive site page

10–26 — Portland Wrecks

Discovery Coast - Portland Wrecks
Discovery Coast - Portland Wrecks

Portland is one of the few natural deep water ports in Australia. Bass Strait sealers are thought to have used it as a base well before the 1820s when it became an established whaling station.

Since then, with the growth of a prosperous hinterland and fishing industries, the arrival of goldseekers, immigration and, more recently, manufacturing developments, Portland has become a thriving city.

Before the construction of the breakwaters and deepwater moorings, Portland Bay was a trap for vessels at anchor. Strong south-easterly gales often caught them unprepared and drove them ashore.

There are 19 shipwrecks in Portland Bay. These vessels carried immigrants and all manner of cargoes, including timber, whaling products, potatoes, clothing, alcohol and pianos. Most have never been located.

10 — Henry 1827–1834 (not found)

The small schooner Henry became the first recorded shipwreck in Portland Bay when it was forced ashore while loading whale oil in August 1834.

11 — New Zealander 1852–1853

The immigrant ship New Zealander had discharged its 465 passengers and was undergoing repairs when it caught fire. The remains of the wreck can still be seen in the water below the Lighhouse Reserve.

New Zealander

Wreck Dive Boat access
Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 20.400′ S   (38.34° S / 38° 20′ 24″ S)
Longitude: 141° 36.550′ E   (141.609167° E / 141° 36′ 33″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-03 02:17:50 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Emily S, 9,103 m, bearing 146°, SE
Built: 1852.
Sunk: 16 December 1853.
See the New Zealander dive site page

12 — Lady Robilliard 1845–1867 (not found)

The Lady Robilliard was on a voyage from Port Adelaide to Portland when a south-easterly gale drove it ashore near Whalers Bluff.

13 — Argo 1867–1883 (not found)

The 17-ton wooden cutter Argo, built in Port Fairy, was wrecked on Portland beach during a south-easterly gale on 31 December 1883.

14 — Margaret and Agnes 1850–1852 (not found)

The Victorian-built schooner Margaret and Agnes had just arrived at Portland Bay from Port Fairy with a cargo of potatoes, flour and bran, when it was blown ashore.

15 — Mary Jane 1846–1852 (not found)

Following the wreck of the Canadian-built brigantine, Mary Jane and the stranding of the schooner Brothers in May 1852, the Portland Guardian criticized the vessels' captains for anchoring too close to shore, and called on the Colonial Government to appoint a harbour master at Portland.

16 — Tui 1868–1883 (not found)

The 18-ton cutter Tui, built at Port Fairy in 1868, was reported wrecked at Portland following a south-easterly gale in 1883.

17 — Nestor 1840–1854 (not found)

The immigrant ship Nestor was lost due to foul play. After the wreck, divers discovered three holes bored in the hull. The master was later arrested and charged with scuttling his ship, but charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.

18 — Australasia 1847–1855 (not found)

Australasia and Constant were both driven ashore during a severe gale in March 1855. The Australasia was sold to the Henty brothers, who made a small fortune by salvaging the cargo of wool.

19 — Constant 1843–1855 (not found)

The Constant had just discharged its 229 immigrants before being blown ashore during a storm, possibly because of poor anchors.

20 — Regia 1835–1860

The remains of the Indian-built barque Regia, grounded during a severe gale, can still be seen lying in two metres of water next to the reclaimed land on the Portland foreshore.

21 — Tamora 1853–1860 (not found)

The wooden barque Tamora blew ashore in a gale while unloading cargo. Portland police charged some people with theft from the vessel, including the master of the schooner Eva, which was wrecked in the same gale.

22 — Elizabeth 1837–1844 (not found)

The Tasmanian-built schooner Elizabeth and another schooner, Sally Ann, were driven ashore during a south-easterly gale in Portland Bay in mid-November 1844.

23 — Elizabeth 1838–1846 (not found)

The Canadian-built brig Elizabeth was totally wrecked on the beach directly below the Portland town site during a south-easterly gale in November 1846.

24 — Henry 1853 (not found)

According to some sources, the two-masted schooner Henry, built specifically to trade between Melbourne and Portland, went ashore during a gale at Portland in September 1853 and became a total wreck.

25 — Sally Ann 1826–1844 (not found)

The Bermudan-built schooner Sally Ann, owned by Stephen Henty, was a regular visitor to Portland. She was driven ashore in a south-easterly gale in mid-November 1844, along with the schooner Elizabeth.

26 — Merope's boat 1839 (not found)

One of the earliest recorded wrecks in Portland Bay was that of a small boat from the barque Merope. It struck a reef while the crew was hunting whales off Lawrence Rocks in May 1839.

27 — Julia 1840–1863

When the brig Julia was grounded near the mouth of the Fitzroy River in 1863, all members of the crew were saved, but six whalers assisting the rescue were drowned.

28 — Merope 1818–1853 (not found)

The Indian-built sailing ship Merope survived a stranding in Western Australia before coming to grief after striking a reef east of the Fitzroy River mouth in 1853.

Shipwreck Coast
Port Fairy to Radfords Road

Shipwreck Coast - Port Fairy to Radfords Road
Shipwreck Coast - Port Fairy to Radfords Road

29–33 — Port Fairy Wrecks

Port Fairy at the mouth of the Moyne River, one of Victoria's earliest settlements, began as a whaling station. Twenty ships were lost at Port Fairy when driven ashore by southerly gales between 1836 and 1876. During this period, Port Fairy grew from a sealing and whaling base to a thriving rural port.

Shipwreck Coast - Port Fairy Wrecks
Shipwreck Coast - Port Fairy Wrecks

29 — Socrates 1821–1843

The British built whaler Socrates was wrecked with its cargo of cattle, sheep and oil from Tasmania when its cable parted during an easterly gale.

30 — Lydia 1825–1843

The Liverpool-built South American trader Lydia was sailing from Sydney to London in ballast when lost after running ashore.

31— Thistle 1825–1837

The Indian-built schooner Thistle, owned by the Hentys, was wrecked when its crew was collecting wattle bark during the off-season from whaling.

32 — Essington 1826–1852

Government-built in Sydney as a troop and convict transport, the Essington was privately owned when wrecked in a gale while carrying general cargo from Sydney.

Essington

Wreck Dive Boat access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 23.217′ S   (38.386945° S / 38° 23′ 13″ S)
Longitude: 142° 14.617′ E   (142.243612° E / 142° 14′ 37″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-03 00:51:05 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Balmoral, 1,204 m, bearing 12°, NNE
Wooden brig.
Built: Government Dockyard, Sydney, 1826.
Sunk: 3 May 1852.
Depth: 11 m.
See the Essington dive site page

33 — Mahogany Ship 1836 (not found)

In the early nineteenth century there were several sightings of an 'ancient wreck' in dunes between Port Fairy and Warrnambool. Hypotheses about its identity vary from 'sixteenth century Portuguese caravel' to 'early American sealing vessel'. This mysterious Mahogany Ship wreck has not been found despite extensive searches and the offer of a government reward of $250,000 in 1992-93. The Mahogany Walking Track goes from Port Fairy to Warrnambool.

34–42 — Warrnambool Wrecks

There are 15 shipwrecks in Lady Bay dating from 1850–1905. Their cargoes of potatoes, wheat, coal and timber reveal Warrnambool's expansion as a centre of rural trade.

Shipwreck Coast - Warrnambool Wrecks
Shipwreck Coast - Warrnambool Wrecks

34 — Enterprise 1847–1850 (not found)

The New Zealand-built schooner Enterprise had sailed from Melbourne and was anchored in Lady Bay, Warrnambool when a south easterly gale swept in on 14 September 1850. The vessel began to drag its anchor, grounded, then went broadside onto the beach. A local Aborigine, Buckawall, struggled through the rough sea from the shore and secured a line to the Enterprise, allowing the crew to land safely. The vessel became a total wreck.

35 — Golden Spring 1848–1863 (not found)

Built in Maine, USA in 1848, the brig Golden Spring was registered in Sydney from 1858. The vessel was anchored in Lady Bay when a gale blew up, causing it to drag anchor and strike the wreck of the Maid of Julpha, located some 150 metres off shore in the bay. The Golden Spring soon broke in two. The gale was noted as the worst that had been record in Warrnambool at this time. The sloop Peveril was wrecked in the same gale.

36 — Free Trader 1850–1894

The Tasmanian-built barque Free Trader parted from both its main anchors during a sudden gale at Warrnambool in July 1984; it was in ballast at the time, pending a voyage to Newcastle. The remaining anchor dragged, and the vessel drifted towards the beach, going broadside onto the piling at the swimming baths. The piling soon battered a hole through the hull, and the vessel filled with water. The crew escaped by climbing onto the piling, but the 44 year old Free Trader became a total wreck. The site is probably deeply buried under the sand in the intertidal zone south west of the Surf Life Saving Club.

38 — Edinburgh Castle 1863–1888

The Scottish barque Edinburgh Castle wrecked in 1888 near the mouth of the Hopkins River in Lady Bay. The ship was carrying an important cargo of cement from London for construction of the Warrnambool breakwater. Pilot error caused the ship to run aground despite the calm weather and it settled in sand, foiling efforts to refloat it. The remains of the ship were scattered in the surf and the site is now buried, but occasionally becomes exposed during rough weather.

Edinburgh Castle

Wreck Dive Boat access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 24.150′ S   (38.4025° S / 38° 24′ 9″ S)
Longitude: 142° 29.580′ E   (142.493° E / 142° 29′ 34.8″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-23 22:10:25 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: La Bella, 1,033 m, bearing 258°, WSW
Three masted iron barque.
Built: Glasgow, Scotland, 1863.
Sunk: 15 January 1888.
Depth: 5 m.
See the Edinburgh Castle dive site page

39 — Whaleboat unknown 1836 (not found)

In the winter of 1836 a whaleboat swamped and sank while entering the Hopkins River. One of the three whaleboat crew drowned in the incident. Further tragedy struck when another boat, captained by John Mills, overturned while trying to recover the whaleboat. The site has yet to be found or identified.

40 — La Bella 1893–1905

The Norwegian-built barquentine La Bella was approaching Warrnambool with a cargo of timber from Kaipara, New Zealand, in heavy seas and evening mist when it ran aground on what is now known as La Bella Reef. By sunrise only seven of the 12 crew still clung to the wreck. A local fisherman, William Ferrier, rowed his small punt through heavy seas to rescue two of the crew, including the captain, whilst the volunteer lifeboat crew rescued a further three before La Bella broke in half and sank. William Ferrier was 25 years old at the time, and was awarded the Silver Medal of the Royal Humane Society for his daring rescue. The wreck now lies in 13m of water and is home to an abundance of marine life.

La Bella

Wreck Dive Boat access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 24.258′ S   (38.4043° S / 38° 24′ 15.48″ S)
Longitude: 142° 28.882′ E   (142.481367° E / 142° 28′ 52.92″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-23 22:08:45 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Edinburgh Castle, 1,033 m, bearing 78°, ENE
Four masted barquentine sailing ship.
Depth: 13 m.
See the La Bella dive site page

41 — Freedom 1841–1853 (not found)

The Freedom was a two-masted schooner built in Jersey, England. It was carrying a cargo of wheat, barley and flour bound for Sydney when it was driven ashore at Warrnambool by a south easterly gale. Although refloated, another gale drove the vessel ashore again on 11 October 1853. This time the anchors parted and the ship was blown ashore near the jetty where it became a total wreck. The site has not been located.

42 — Yarra 1850–1882 (not found)

The Yarra was built in Hobart, Tasmania as a two-masted brigantine. It was waiting to unload a cargo of coal from Newcastle when the anchors parted in heavy swell and the ship drifted out of control across Lady Bay. The Yarra first collided with the SS Dawn, before grounding east of the jetties, where it broke up the following day. The site was later dynamited as it was a navigation hazard, and the remains of the site have not been located.

43–45 — Children, John Scott and Antares Wrecks

Shipwreck Coast - Children, John Scott and Antares Wrecks
Shipwreck Coast - Children, John Scott and Antares Wrecks

Just a 40 metre walk from the carpark, steps provide acces to Childers Cove beach.

The best vantage point for the John Scott and Antares is at the trail marker at the end of Radfords Road. Looking north-west to Andares Rock it is possible to appreciate the rugged coastline which has taken so many lives.

43 — Children 1825–1839

The Children was a coastal trader owned by the Henty family of Portland. On a voyage from Launceston in January 1839, it was blown off course and struck a reef at the mouth of Childers cove. Sixteen people were drowned.

Children

Wreck Dive Shore access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 29.500′ S   (38.491667° S / 38° 29′ 30″ S)
Longitude: 142° 40.400′ E   (142.673333° E / 142° 40′ 24″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map | Get directions
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-03-10 03:37:36 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Antares, 10,729 m, bearing 133°, SE
Three Masted Wooden Sailing Barque.
Built: Liverpool, England, 1824.
Sunk: 14 January 1839.
See the Children dive site page

44 — John Scott 1848–1858

The John Scott was on a voyage from Adelaide to Melbourne with a cargo of flour and wheat when heavy seas and fog caused the vessel to come ashore at Bold Projection. The crew and passengers were all saved.

45 — Antares 1888–1914

The Antares was the last sailing ship wrecked along the Shipwreck Coast. On a voyage from Marseilles to Melbourne during World War I, the vessel sank with the loss of all hands.

Antares

Wreck Dive Boat access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 33.500′ S   (38.558333° S / 38° 33′ 30″ S)
Longitude: 142° 45.750′ E   (142.7625° E / 142° 45′ 45″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-03-16 04:23:25 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Falls of Halladale, 10,015 m, bearing 123°, ESE
Bay of Islands, Shipwreck Coast.
Iron sailing barque, 1742 ton.
Built: Glasgow, Scotland, 1888.
Sunk: November 1914.
Depth: 2 to 6 m.
See the Antares dive site page

Radfords Road to Moonlight Head

Shipwreck Coast - Radfords Road to Moonlight Head
Shipwreck Coast - Radfords Road to Moonlight Head

46–49 — Peterborough Wrecks

Shipwreck Coast - Peterborough Wrecks
Shipwreck Coast - Peterborough Wrecks

A short walk from the carpark, the trail marker overlooks the area where the Falls of Halladale wrecked.

The sometimes treacherous waters in Newfield Bay caused several ships to come to grief.

46 — Falls of Halladale 1886–1908

The Falls of Halladale was on the final leg of its voyage from New York to Melbourne when its captain became unsure of his location due to the presence of sea mist. The vessel, with all its sails set, struck a reef and became a total loss.

Falls of Halladale

Wreck Dive Boat access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 36.500′ S   (38.608333° S / 38° 36′ 30″ S)
Longitude: 142° 51.500′ E   (142.858333° E / 142° 51′ 30″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-23 22:17:43 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Schomberg, 2,603 m, bearing 110°, ESE
Four masted iron barque.
Built: Greenock, Scotland, 1886.
Sunk: 14 November 1908.
Depth 14 m.
See the Falls of Halladale dive site page

47 — Young Australian 1864–1877 (not found)

The Young Australian was on a voyage from Queensland to Adelaide with a cargo of sugar and rum when severe storms damaged the ship’s rigging and forced it ashore.

48 — Schomberg 1855–1855

The Schomberg was one of the most magnificent sailing ships ever built. Captain 'Bully' Forbes was below deck entertaining female passengers when the vessel was blown ashore at Curdies Inlet. Both the ship and the Captain's career were wrecked.

Schomberg

Wreck Dive Boat access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 37.000′ S   (38.616667° S / 38° 37′ 0″ S)
Longitude: 142° 53.180′ E   (142.886333° E / 142° 53′ 10.8″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-23 22:19:17 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Newfield, 2,455 m, bearing 112°, ESE
Three masted wooden clipper.
Built: 1855.
Sunk: 1855.
Depth: 9 m.
See the Schomberg dive site page

49 — Newfield 1889–1892

Poor weather conditions and faulty navigation caused the loss of the barque Newfield while on a voyage from Scotland to Brisbane. The ship was blown ashore at Peterborough with the loss of nine lives.

Newfield

Wreck Dive Boat access
Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 37.500′ S   (38.625° S / 38° 37′ 30″ S)
Longitude: 142° 54.750′ E   (142.9125° E / 142° 54′ 45″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-23 22:21:39 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Schomberg, 2,455 m, bearing 292°, WNW
Iron Sailing Barque.
Built: 1889.
Sunk: 29 August 1892.
See the Newfield dive site page

50 — Napier Wreck

Shipwreck Coast - Napier Wreck
Shipwreck Coast - Napier Wreck

Port Campbell Cemetery
The Port Campbell cemetery is the resting place of sailors drowned in the newfield wreck.

50 — Napier 1874–1878

The steamship Napier was engaged to salvage the wreck of the Loch Ard, but came to grief while entering Port Campbell inlet.

51 — Loch Ard 1873–1878

The Loch Ard was on the final stage of its voyage from Gravesend to Melbourne when sea mist obscured the land causing the vessel to run into Mutton Bird Island near Port Campbell. Of the 54 people on board the ship, only two managed to get ashore.

Loch Ard

Wreck Dive Boat access
Advanced Open Water Rated Marine Park - No Fishing Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
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: 2021-05-05 10:10:26 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Newfield, 14,124 m, bearing 281°, W
Square-rigged iron clipper sailing ship.
Built: Glasgow, 1873.
Sunk: 1 June 1878.
Depth: 25 m.
See the Loch Ard dive site page

52–53 — Fiji and Marie Gabrielle Wrecks

Shipwreck Coast - Fiji and Marie Gabrielle Wrecks
Shipwreck Coast - Fiji and Marie Gabrielle Wrecks

On Wreck Beach to the west of the walkway a windlass and anchor from the Marie Gabrielle are often exposed in the sand. Further alond the beach, two anchors (one buried) from the Fiji are a stark memorial to the wreck.

On the clifftop is the now inaccessible headstone at the grave of the drowned sailors. They were buried in coffins made from the Fiji's timbers.

52 — Fiji 1875–1891

The wreck of the barque Fiji was caused by poor weather and faulty navigational equipment. The ship was wrecked at Wreck Beach near Moonlight Head during a voyage from Hamburg to Melbourne.

Lifesaving gear was sent from Port Campbell in two buggies, the first containing the tripod and four rockets, and a lifeboat, the second the heavy rope and (bosun's) chair. It is strongly suspected that a local photographer took the heavy rope out and put his camera gear in. When they got down to the wreck they found that half the rocket apparatus was missing. It was needed to fire the heavy rope on to the wreck so that the people could get off, hand over hand, to the shore. Without this rope, 12 of the crew of 27 died.

Fiji

Wreck Dive Boat access
Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site
Latitude: 38° 45.750′ S   (38.7625° S / 38° 45′ 45″ S)
Longitude: 143° 13.500′ E   (143.225° E / 143° 13′ 30″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-02-23 22:25:10 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Loch Ard, 18,186 m, bearing 312°, NW
Three masted iron barque.
Built: Belfast, Ireland, 1875.
Sunk: 6 September 1891.
Depth: 7 m.
See the Fiji dive site page

53 — Marie Gabrielle 1864–1869

While carrying tea from China to Melbourne, the barque Marie Gabrielle was blown off course and driven ashore at Wreck Beach near Moonlight Head. Despite the southwesterly gale, all hands were saved.


See also Guide to the Historic Shipwreck Trail on Victoria's West Coast (Adobe PDF | 1015.75 KB)

Warning: Any shipwreck or shipwreck relic that is 75 years or older is protected by legislation. Other items of maritime heritage 75 years or older are also protected by legislation. Activities such as digging for bottles, coins or other artefacts that involve the disturbance of archaeological sites may be in breach of the legislation, and penalties may apply. The legislation requires the mandatory reporting to Heritage Victoria as soon as practicable of any archaeological site that is identified. See Maritime heritage. Anyone with information about looting or stolen artefacts should call Heritage Victoria on (03) 7022 6390, or send an email to heritage.victoria@delwp.vic.gov.au.

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