Discover the stories of the Shipwreck Coast – a wild stretch of coastline along Australia’s Great Ocean Road.
Australia’s Shipwreck Coast is famous these days for its incredible rock formations. Heard of the 12 Apostles? Well there’s more to this area than just incredible views. This stretch of coastline has a dark history. It was an area in which around 700 shipwrecks occurred due the wild ocean swells, strong winds and offshore islands and rocks.
There are many stories of the Shipwreck Coast that have been passed through the generations, or written about in books and journals. However, none are as famous as the wreck of the Loch Ard. The story has two survivers who lived to tell the tale. Plus, the location of the shipwreck can be visited today.
In fact, if you take a tour of the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne with Go West Tours, you will visit the beach that has become famous as the location the two survivors washed into after the Loch Ard shipwreck.
Stories of the Shipwreck Coast
The Loch Ard Shipwreck
Not far from the famous 12 Apostles is an incredible coastal gorge that is the site of the 1878 Loch Ard Shipwreck. The Loch Ard was a ship that set sail from the UK in 1878, with wealthy families onboard. After three months at sea the ship reached Bass Strait and the now-infamous Shipwreck Coast. While having trouble navigating the large swells, the Loch Ard wrecked on rocks adjacent to the coast. Unfortunately, of the 54 people on board the Loch Ard, only two were able to survive the shipwreck.
The two survivors were young teenagers – Eva Carmichael, who had been travelling to Australia with her family and Tom Pierce, who was a young merchant sailor. However, they found themselves trapped on a secluded beach surrounded by high cliff walls (the location that is now called Loch Ard Gorge. Does the story have a happy ending for these two? You’d better join us on tour to find out!
Today the wreck of the Loch Ard is a popular diving spot. The ship is 30 metres below the water’s surface near Mutton Bird Island. However, a number of items that were salvaged from the wreck are housed at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warrnambool.
The Marie Gabrielle Shipwreck
In 1869, the Marie Gabrielle was delivering cargo when strong gales blew it in towards the coastline. It wrecked just off from Moonlight Head, however all of the crew onboard were able to survive. Today – you can still see the large anchor of the Marie Gabrielle when it is low tide.
The Fiji Shipwreck
The Fiji wreck in a similar location – just close to Moonlight Head. However, when this wreck occurred only fifteen members of the ship crew made it to safety. Today the wreck of the Fiji lies seven metres below the surface in a sandy gully.
The Antares Shipwreck
The Antares is the last ship to have wrecked along this coastline. It happened during World War 1, when the Antares travelled from France to Melbourne. Large swells and a rough ocean caused the ship to wreck on rocks near Peterborough. A local young boy saw the ships flares in the distance and thought it was the Germans invading, however no one in town believed him. Two weeks later people started finding the remains of the ship. Today the wreck can be seen 80 metres offshore in just 6 metres of water.
Visiting the Shipwreck Coast
The Shipwreck Coast is approximately 4 hours drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, or approximately 2.5 hours drive along the less-scenic inland route. It is home to many incredible locations. Loch Ard Gorge is the location the two survivors washed into after the Loch Ard Shipwreck. The most famous location is the limestone stacks named the 12 Apostles. From the 12 Apostles lookout you can view these rock formations and high limestone cliffs. Gibson Steps is where you can descend the cliff to the beach to come face to face with the wild southern ocean.
Tour the Great Ocean Road
To visit this incredible coastline on the Great Ocean Road, join us on a day tour from Melbourne. You’ll not only see the epic cliffs and incredible beaches, you’ll spend a whole day exploring the coastline. Our tour includes spotting koalas in the wild, touring the Surf Coast and viewing the Twelve Apostles.
Check out our Great Ocean Road Day Tour or Sunset Tour of the Great Ocean Road – both of which visit the Shipwreck Coast.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au