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Shipwrecks and sea resue: Shipwrecks, 1802-1850

Chronological list of South Australian shipwrecks

1802

The first recorded wreck in South Australian waters was the cutter from HMS Investigator, Captain Matthew Flinders. The voyage of discovery had reached the entrance of what would later be called Spencer Gulf on 21 February; the ship's cutter under the command of the master John Thistle and with Midshipman William Taylor, and six sailors crossed to the nearby coast to search for water. The cutter was overturned by 'so strong a rippling of tide' and all men were lost. The cutter was also destroyed. Little wreckage and no bodies were found despite an extensive search. Flinders named adjacent islands after all of the men lost. The point of land nearest the disaster was called Cape Catastrophe. A full account can be read in Flinders Voyage to Terra Australis pp 134-139 or on the Encounter 1802-2002 website, select Flinders' voyage/Difficulties and disasters.

1837

Severe storms in Encounter Bay in December destroyed two ships. On 8 December the South Australian company's ship South Australian, anchored in Rosetta Harbour was blown from her moorings and onto a reef. Crew and passengers escaped but the vessel was destroyed.  Solway anchored near the site of the South Australian wreck and on 21/22 December was similarly destroyed in another storm, again with no loss of life. John Pirie was also driven onto the same reef, but was successfully refloated.

1838

Wooden brig Dart grounded on Troubridge Shoal at the entrance of St Vincent Gulf, 29 March.  It became a total wreck, but there was no loss of life. Barque Parsee was wrecked on Troubridge Shoal 17 November. Crew and passengers reached safety. Ship and most of the cargo was lost. Schooner Fanny sailing from Hobart to the Swan River ran aground near Cape Jaffa in the South East 22 June. Crew and passengers reached safety; the schooner Elizabeth ran aground during a storm in Rivoli Bay. She was eventually salvaged. Cutter William was lost in Aldinga Bay in August.

1839

The brig David Whitton went ashore south of the entrance to the Onkaparinga River during a storm on 17 March. The crew and some cargo were saved, but the ship was a total loss.

1840

The brig Maria en route to Hobart from Adelaide was forced ashore on the Coorong coast during a July storm. Passengers and crew reached safety and determined to follow the beach north to Encounter Bay. After initial assistance from friendly Aboriginal people, the survivors of the wreck were attacked by the hostile group and massacred. The cutter Frances was wrecked on one of the islands at the entrance to Spencer Gulf in August.

1842

The government cutter Water Witch sank in the River Murray 5 December, near Blanchetown.  There were no casualties. Water Witch is a protected wreck. In March the cutter Mary Ann was wrecked in Coffin Bay, but successfully salvaged.

1844

Tasmanian whaler Camilla was driven ashore in a storm in Streaky Bay during April. Crew, stores and whaling gear were all landed safely. Cutter Kate was stranded in June in Spencer Gulf. She could not be refloated.  Another cutter William Henry was wrecked in June. Sophia Jane, a 15 ton cutter disappeared without trace off the south east coast in September. The whaler Isabella was forced ashore in a storm in November between Rivoli Bay and Cape Northumberland. The crew walked overland to Portland. The brig Elizabeth Rebecca was driven ashore and became a total wreck in Trial Bay, Eyre Peninsula in November. The crew walked overland to Port Lincoln.

1845

Schooner Vulcan was wrecked on Flinders Island off the west coast in April. The crew built another vessel from the wreck and reached safety. Schooner Mariner, 46 tons, sailed from Port Phillip in October. During a storm near Kangaroo Island she was dismasted and drifted for several days and was finally driven ashore on the Coorong beach 7 November.

1846

Schooner Victoria capsized during a gale off Cape Jaffa 9 June. Two men were drowned, but the captain and other crew member were able to launch the ship's boat and reach shore. Victoria was a total loss.

1847

Schooner Alpha was driven onto rocks at Encounter Bay 25 July and became a total wreck.  Ketch Governor Gawler struck a submerged rock on 1st August near Revesby Island, Spencer Gulf.  Crew and passengers reached safety; the ketch was a total loss. 23 August the cutter William struck a reef and was lost in Hog Bay, Kangaroo Island.

1848

The barque Arachne was driven ashore and lost in Trial Bay near Streaky Bay in June. No lives were lost. Brig Tigress was driven ashore at the mouth of the Onkaparinga River 26 September. The captain and one passenger were drowned, but all others were rescued. The mouth of the Onkaparinga also claimed the ketch Albatross in August, and the cutter Gazelle was driven ashore on the Coorong in September. Cutter Albatross built at Encounter Bay in 1842 and unregistered was wrecked at the mouth of the Onkaparinga River after loading a cargo of flour for Port Adelaide.

1849

Schooner Young Hebe was lost off southern Yorke Peninsula, possibly Troubridge Shoal, in March. Some wreckage was found 20 miles east of Cape Spencer, but there was no trace of the crew of 10. Cutter Thompsons was driven ashore during a storm on 10 September, south of Guichen Bay.  22 lives were lost. Sultana was wrecked in Troubridge Shoal 28 September. Most of the cargo and all crew were saved. Storms during January destroyed any hope of salvage but several small vessels were built from her timbers.

1850

Cutter Jane Flaxman was swamped off Port Adelaide 2 May. Passengers and crew were all lost.  The barque Grecian reached Adelaide safely from London, 13 October, but was wrecked during a storm on the bar of the Port River. One passenger was drowned, all others and crew landed safely on Torrens Island.

Admella
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Admella Shipwreck Relief Fund
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Admella's passengers
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Barque Margit stranded
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Duncow, a near miss
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Kooringa meeting for the Admella Relief Fund
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List of subscriptions in the Admella Relief Fund
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Loch Sloy
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Melbourne Admella Fund
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Portland Maru
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Ship destroys lighthouse
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Star of Greece
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