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Shipwrecks of the 12 Apostles Coast

Shipwreck Display

Pop in to the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre and browse our historical Shipwreck Display.

Made up of a collection of artifacts recovered from wrecks along the Shipwreck Coast, from Childers Cove to Moonlight Head. Admire the detail of the Loch Ard itself, with a 1/60th scale model which allows you to reference the size of the ship against actual hardware, including a kedging anchor on display.

Entry is free!

Shipwreck of the Fiji

Wreck occurred: 6th September 1891
Where: Moonlight Head (West of Princetown)

The wreck of the Fiji lies in depths of 6 to 7 metres of water in a sandy gully, 50 to 70 metres from Wreck Beach and Moonlight Head.

The Fiji sailing ship was built for WJ Myers at the Harland and Wolff shipbuilding company based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the same company that built the RMS Titanic. It was launched on the 21st September 1875 and completed on the 29th October 1875.

10 lives were lost in the wreck of the 1400 ton iron hulled ship Fiji when it found itself on a lee shore in the middle of the night. The cargo included 200 ton of dynamite which the crew distanced themselves from by clinging to the bowsprit. The ships lifeboat was dispatched and immediately capsized in the rough seas. One Crew member,  Julius Gebauer attempted the 150m swim to shore with a heavy line but lost the line as he approached the shore when it snagged on the sea floor.

Gebauer made it to shore and was able to enlist help at nearby Rivernook Guesthouse. A message was sent to the local rocket rescue crew in Port Campbell who successfully fired a light line over the vessel.

When controversially the crew’s heavy line didn’t arrive before nightfall attempts began to bring the crew to shore using the light line. One by one, 10 men were swept to their death with 16 making it safely to shore. A local settler Wilkinson, also lost his life in an attempt to swim out to the vessel when he struck his head on the ship’s anchor.

Local divers imbedded an anchor from the Ship in a section of reef to commemorate the wreck in 1961. This can still be viewed today in low tides and calmer sea conditions.

Shipwreck of the Marie Gabrielle

Wreck occurred: 1869
Where: West of Moonlight Head in proximity to the Fiji

The Marie Gabrielle was swamped and smashed on the beach before the men clambered out. The anchor of the Marie Gabrielle can still be seen at Wreck Beach at low tide.

The large steel hulled French registered and crewed barque ran aground at 1 am on Wreck Beach just west of Moonlight Head. The crew waited until daylight and all got to shore safely in the ships boat. 4 crew members stayed with the boat with the remainder heading west along the coast bound for Cape Otway.

Without water and food and faring badly by the third day the crew came across the lightkeepers children on a beach below the lighthouse. The frightened children not understanding French and alarmed by the crews dishevelled appearance promptly ran off and got help from the lightkeeper Henry Ford.

A rescue party was sent to recover the remaining crew and all were hosted locally for over a month until the twice yearly lighthouse supply boat could return them to Melbourne.

Mystery surrounds the fate of South Pacific islanders that were also crew on the boat.

Shipwreck of the Loch Ard

Wreck occurred: 1878
Where: 4 km East of the 12 Apostles off Mutton Bird Island within the Loch Ard Gorge precinct.

The wreck of the Loch Ard lies in depths ranging from 10 to 25 metres to the south west side of Muttonbird Island.

Signalled the beginning of the end for emigrant passages travelling on boats with sail alone. Artifacts and stories surrounding this famous wreck can be viewed at the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre and at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warrnambool.

The story is retold in a nightly sound and light show “Shipwrecked” at Flagstaff Hill.

Shipwreck of the Napier

Wreck occurred: 1878
Where: Adjacent pier in Port Campbell Bay

A steamer commissioned to assist salvage of the Loch Ard, swell forced the vesssel onto rocks on western wall of bay, considered salvageable but was torn apart by another gale awaiting a pump to arrive from Warrnambool.

The Napier was destroyed and abandoned by captain and crew leaving 10 men and a diver to dismantle as much as possible before she went to pieces.

Shipwreck of the Newfield

Wreck occurred: 1892.
Where: Newfield Bay about 1km east of Peterborough

The wreck is located in a low relief substrate and is very exposed with dangerous and unpredictable swells breaking. It lies in depths ranging from 5 to 7 metres. Near perfect diving and boating conditions are required to view the wreck.

The Newfield, commanded by Captain Scott of Banff, departed Liverpool on June 1st 1892 bound for Brisbane.

On the night of 28th August, the  Captain mistook the Cape Otway light for that of Cape Wickham (King Island) and altered tack to the north and east putting the vessel on collision course with the Victorian coast.

On the 29th August the Newfield ran aground on a series of offshore reefs at Peterborough. There were 26 people on board and nine lives lost.

Shipwreck of the Falls of Halladale

Wreck occurred: 1908
Where: Halladale point west of Peterborough

The Falls of Halladale lies just off Halladale Point, in the Bay of Islands Coastal Park, about 300 metres offshore in 3 to 15 metres of water.

The Falls of Halladale was a magnificent four masted iron barque built in Scotland 1886. In the ships 23 years of operation, she sailed the world trade routes through the “roaring forties” and “howling fifties” and was capable of making 300 nautical miles in 24 hours.

In the early hours of Saturday 13th November in fine weather and calm sea the Falls of Halladale became wedged between 2 reefs for two weeks drawing large crowds of onlookers.

Shipwreck of the Children Barque

Wreck occurred: 1839
Where: Childers Cove,  30km west of Peterborough

The wooden barque was wrecked after striking reefs close to shore at the entrance of Childers Cove.

Crew sickness and gale force winds conspired upon this ill fated passage from Launceston to Portland. In 1951 high tide and rough seas exposed the skeletal remains of a man and child believed to be from the wreck which claimed 17 lives.

The anchor was recovered from the wreck by Flagstaff Hill Divers it is now displayed at the front of Flagstaff Hill reception.

Shipwreck of the Antares

Wreck occurred: 1914
Where: West of Peterborough via Radford’s Rd

The Antares today lies in only 4 to 6 metres of water and is a little more than 70 to 80 metres offshore west of the Bay of Islands.

Reported by a young boy who believed he saw flares and the German’s were coming. He was ignored and it was an estimated 2 weeks before wreck evidence was discovered by local sheep farmers on 13th December 1914.

The Antares had split length-ways and the iron hull frames were lying on either side of the keel and covered with the vessels cargo of roofing tiles.

Pop in to the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre and browse our historical Shipwreck Display.

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Ancestors, past present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.