Sunday, 29 June 2014

Shipwreck Coast, South Australia …


South Australia featured in two of my recent posts – details below – and I wanted to tie this post in with them …

New Holland (Australia) as mapped
on a Coronelli globe commissioned in
1681

The South Australia state borders all the other states of Australia and has the long shoreline of the Great Australian Bight … finally routing ships past Tasmania into Melbourne and Sydney …


The state’s colonial origins in 1836 are unique in Australia as a freely settled, planned British province, rather than as a convict settlement.


However travel to Australia was always in the hands of the gods … six hundred and more vessels lie scattered along this elemental coastline – hewn by winds, strong ocean currents whipped by the Antarctic Ocean and powerful waves that attack the Southern Ocean shore …


The rough shores of Southern Australia

Australia was still being opened up only 200 years ago or so … and members of those wrecked ships would have had little chance of being rescued even if their vessels had been able to find a way to the shore … bush-tracks were the only means along the coastline.





The last sail powered clipper, the Loch Ard, left England in March 1878 bound for Melbourne with a crew of 17, the passengers numbered 37 and with assorted cargo. 

The Loch Ard clipper



The earlier routes had been to the south of Tasmania before, in about 1800, it was realised there was a Strait that could be sailed – however for the next 50 years until Cape Otway lightstation was first lit in 1848 – the passage through was far from safe.





George Bass, after whom the Strait is named, and Matthew Flinders, who was the first person to circumnavigate Australia (1801-1803) had passed through while circumnavigating Van Dieman’s Land (now Tasmania) (1798-99).


Tasmania of Victoria State, Australia -
showing some of the islands in the
Bass Strait
The Strait is treacherous with over 50 islands, at its narrowest point it is 240 km (150 miles) wide, but generally only 50 metres (165 feet) deep … to illustrate its wild strength …


… it is where the waters of the Antarctic-driven Indian Ocean meet the Tasman Sea’s Pacific Ocean in a channel of powerful, wild storm waves.



Matthew Flinders, the grandfather of Flinders Petrie – the Egyptologist of whom I’ve posted – said of the Shipwreck Coast “I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline”.

Rough seas along the cliffs from
Cape Otway

On June 1st in the middle of winter at the outer western reaches of the Bass Strait the Loch Ard encountered heavy fog and unable to see the Cape Otway lightstation … which was a guiding light, rather than a ‘keep clear’ lighthouse …


The ship’s captain unaware of how close he was running to the coast tried to extricate his sailing ship but they were unable to turn about in time and ran aground on a reef.


The Loch Ard sank within a quarter of an hour or so after striking the reef – amazingly two people survived: an apprentice Tom Pearce, 18, who clung to the overturned hull of a lifeboat, which was washed ashore through a narrow gap into what is now called the Loch Ard Gorge.


Images of Tom and Eva



Tom heard 25 year old Eva Carmichael’s shouts for help … and despite clinging to a spar for five hours, dressed apparently only in a nighty … he was able to rescue her.






Tom was only five foot four and half inches tall – yet he managed to scramble out of the gorge and by pure luck found the only settlement in the area – Glenample Station … so they were both rescued and survived to tell the ghastly tale.


Loch Ard Gorge


Dr Xanthe Mallet of Dundee University, who is one of our leading forensic anthropologists, who reconstructed the face of Sir John de Strychley, who died in 1341. 


Cape Otway Lightstation
He and his ‘family’ were found buried beneath the kitchen at Stirling Castle … and this was a ‘cold case’ programme on the BBC – fascinatingit was too … post is here.


Dr Mallet was here to investigate the remains of the Loch Ard and its occupants … and to see why the ship foundered – they think it was because it was carrying railway lines … 


... they might have interfered with the ship’s compass and sent it off course … let alone the vessel would have been very unwieldy due to the weight of the tracks being transported.


Weedy Seadragon

The Southern Ocean holds all kinds of stories for us … paleantologistic wonders … that might be a new word … fossils, evidence of climate change and continental movement …




… and plenty of wrecks that might come to the fore – letting us research the ships lost, checking out skeletons and finally laying them to rest on land … to be perhaps one day millions of years in the future be swallowed once again by the oceans …

Leafy Seadragon


Weedy and Leafy Seadragons can be found at the A-Z Challenge site here …




… while the story of how the Great Ocean Road was built along this coastline is here at Tina’s Life is Good Blog




Limestone stacks found just off the
Great Ocean Road, south Australia



That ties the three Australian coast posts together ... 



.... then the post about Matthew Flinders can be found here: A Digger’s Life and the Petrie Museum, London ... 








PS - within the comments I have added a separate note on what happened to Tom and Eva after their rescue ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

47 comments:

L.G. Smith said...

It would have taken a braver soul than me to sail to Australia in the mid 1800's. Wow, treacherous stuff.

But the rewards might have been worth the risky adventure. Love those sea dragons. :)

Terra said...

My husband and I enjoy history shows and books, and I like your post of Australia's seafaring past. Do you read the Patrick O'Brian seafaring series, set about 1800-1820? Love those books. There are 20 books and a few are set in Australia and her sea ports.

Jo said...

Another fascinating post Hilary, thank you. Didn't realise the waters around the coast were so treacherous. Despite having friends in that part of the world, never really thought about investigating the area. I certainly will check that link for Sir John de Strychley, how very interesting.

Val Poore said...

Have you read that book about Tasmania? I forget its name now but the author is (I think) a writer with the name Shakespeare. The reason I ask is that it tells rather graphically how awful it was to sail and survive in Australia not so very long ago. So interesting but so brutal and harsh. Great post as always, Hilary!

Suzanne Furness said...

Tom and Eva's story is amazing. Interesting post as ever, Hilary. Hope you have had a nice weekend.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Only two people survived. I wonder what became of them...?

Old Kitty said...

Respect to the oceans and all who've tried and continue to try to navigate through them!

I was hoping Tom and Eva got together...

Love your fabulous word btw! :-)

Take care
x

Munir said...

Both of the Sea dragons are kind of cute. The Limestone stacks are stunning too. Thanks for sharing. Cheers !

L. Diane Wolfe said...

All those lost ships. It would be fascinating to see a special on them.

Sherry Ellis said...

A very precarious place for boaters! I wonder how safe it is for SCUBA divers to view the wrecks?

May said...

Interesting facts here...

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

Meticulous, as always, Hilary. Tom survived to tell his ghastly tale.

Australia can be quite the treacherous place to reach by boat. Especially for those desperate souls who go there in today's precarious craft.

Duly noted and commented over at Tina's site.

Hope you enjoyed the weekend.

Cheers,

Gary

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Like others here, I wanted to know what became of Tom and Eva afterward. *insert romantic thoughts here that only happen in novels*

I didn't know how treacherous the Australia coastline was, although sea travel was always risky at that time.

Almost like taking a cruise ship these days. ;)

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

A family was buried beneath the kitchen? Yikes

You know what I think? I think my life is easier than back then. Remind me not to time travel there/then.

D.G. Hudson said...

Very interesting, Hilary. It's a continent that I know little about, so thanks for the mini lecture, I enjoyed it. It would have been much more difficult if you had to go steerage.

Sorry to drop by late, busy day.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

UPDATE ON TOM and EVA:

If you want to read more ... please see this article, retyped on the LH side of the scanned newspaper article (16 June 1934): http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/10947161

… essentially:
- They stayed at Government House
- Funds had to be raised to get them home to Britain
- Buttons picturing the two survivors’ heads were sold
- Tom had run away from home, though came from a good family
- He was engaged, but offered to break off his engagement to marry Eva
- She thought they had nothing in common and so decided it would be wrong
- Eva returned to her grandmother in Ireland, having lost her family in the wreck
- Eva was often called out to succour survivors from wrecks off the Irish coast … Tom Pearce was once again one of those …
Eva died in her seventies …

Here’s another article: http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/heritage/maritime/shipwrecks/victorian-shipwreck-dive-sites/loch-ard-shipwreck

Another article mentions that Eva died at age 73, while Tom died at sea aged 49. Here’s this one … http://www.standard.net.au/story/796318/tragedy-haunted-loch-ard-shipwreck-survivor/


The articles are worth reading - as there is more information in them ... enjoy!!

Cheers Hilary

suesconsideredtrifles said...

Hilary, I have enjoyed all three Australian posts - particularly the dragons.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ LG - I'm not sure I'd have gone either .. but if the family was going then you'd go along too ...

Risk and reward ... death or surviving - when the decision is in the clasp of the sea ...

@ Terra - glad you enjoyed this -and no I haven't heard of the Patrick O'Brian books .. they sound informative - I'll check them out:thanks.

@ Jo - I hadn't realised there was so much of interest either - but now I want to learn more ..

I must edit the Stirling Castle post .. well set it out, so it's easier to read ...

@ Val - I hadn't heard of your book either .. just writing this post - put me off sailing to Australia!! But I'll check it out ..

@ Suzanne - I've updated Tom and Eva's stories in the comment above ..

@ Alex - answered above - one went home and one carried on being at sea ...

@ Old Kitty - the Oceans are wonderful, but I'd rather be on land ..

Sadly Tom and Eva didn't - but I've give more info above ..

Thanks re my "new word" .. not sure about it ... tiredness I suspect!

@ Munir - thank you and glad you enjoyed seeing the photos ..

@ Diane - many of the ships they haven't found .. or they've been smashed to smithereens by the ocean ... I'm sure there's a documentary about the Clippers and other ships somewhere around ..

@ Sherry - very precarious, and for divers I think they have to wait for calm conditions - they did dive to the wreck and to the sea floor or different sections in the programme ...

@ May - thank you ..

@ Gary - thanks for going over to Tina's blog ... I don't know much about Australia - this short Coast programme brought lots to my mind .. I'd rather fly in!

@ Dianne - Tom and Eva's ever after is very informative - I hope you get a chance to read the articles I've put up in the comment above. Sadly no romance!

I had very little knowledge of the geography or duration of travel to Australia in the 1700 - 1800s ... and yes Cruise ships can be treacherous can't they ..

@ Teresa - It was such an interesting programme - the BBC Cold Case at Stirling Castle - and how they worked who the buried skeletons belonged to and then brought one to life through reconstruction ... totally absorbed me ...

Yes - I too think life is somewhat easier now ... and I'd only time travel if I lived a good long life!

@ DG - as you say it's an area I know very little about either .. so I enjoyed writing this post up - it is a little like a lecture - sorry for that!

No worries - I'm always delighted to see everyone when they can get here ..

@ Sue - glad you've enjoyed all three posts .. thanks for taking the time to read - the seadragons are amazing aren't they ..

Thanks everyone .. and I hope I've satisfied your curiosity about Tom and Eva in my comment above ..

Cheers Hilary

Linens and Royals said...

I have been to Loch Ard Gorge, still a lonely isolated stretch of coast. I know I climbed down to the beach so there must now be a bit of a path. Thanks for the info. on Tom and Eva as I wasn't sure what happened to them.

Lynn said...

I'll bet that cold case program on BBC was fascinating. Such beautiful scenery on those coasts.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Those clipper ships are so elegantly beautiful--but I'm eternally thankful I wasn't in the position of having to use them for transport! Wow. How scary a shipwreck would be...

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Here in the states, we seem to not know hardly anything about the history of Australia. I loved this post because it gave me some background :) I want to visit there someday for sure.

Murees Dupé said...

It was brave of those people to travel to Australia knowing how unpredictable and scary the journey could be. It is funny how easy we can travel there now.

cleemckenzie said...

I can only imagine what it must have been like aboard those ships heading off to Australia. No wonder those Aussies are tough.

Lovely rescue story. Those two had some angels hovering nearby, that's for sure.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Silvia - thanks for the update - the links I put in to my explanatory comment on Tom and Eva shows a little of that. I gather there's steps down now ...

@ Lynn - the cold case was so so interesting .. but the Aussie coast looks amazing ..

@ Elizabeth - the clippers are so pretty as you say - my mother used to love the Tall Ships that sometimes visit our shores -

But I too am very glad I didn't have to travel that way ... and being in a shipwreck would be terrible ...

@ Keith - sometimes I feel the same way ... now I'm intrigued to see more about these Australian coasts ..

Thanks .. I hope you can get to visit sometime (soon?!) ... and appreciate the thumbs up to posting about other places ..

@ Murees - travelling anywhere three or four hundred years ago must have always been taking your life in your hands, or the captain's hands ...

@ Lee - good to see you .. but travelling off for a 3 month trip on a sailing boat doesn't inspire me to much!

Weren't the angels wonderful to rescue these two people and allow us to share their story all these years later ...

Cheers everyone - Hilary

Cherie Reich said...

Looks pretty scary to be sailing along the coast. Love that picture of the leafy seadragon!

Julia Hones said...

What an adventure, Hilary. Interesting story...
Australia is a place I could have visited. Now I am sorry to say that I did not do it but I know many people who lived in Australia temporarily. The water shortage is a challenge.

Patsy said...

It's amazing that anyone survived the journey to Australia back then.

Love the sea dragon.

Southpaw said...

Just so amazing.

I love the sea dragons. We have some beautiful ones at our local aquarium.

Trisha F said...

I'm going to have to check out your other Australia coasts posts as well - this was an interesting read, even for me who lives in Australia. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Cherie - I too would be scared sailing along there, even in today's craft .. glad you like the seadragons ...

@ Julia - the stories and facts were so interesting ... I was on my way to Australia, but got stopped in South Africa .. i.e. I didn't move on! I can imagine the water shortage is a problem .. it's a subject I'd be interested to look into .. sometime ..

@ Patsy - I wonder what the percentage of those who made it and those who didn't in the days of sail .. I suppose the odds must have been quite high in getting there, otherwise people wouldn't have carried on going ... I love the little seadragons ...

@ Holly - yes I saw the seadragons were in quite a few aquaria in the States - I'd love to see one in real life at some stage ..

@ Trisha - you'll enjoy the other posts, they bring the three together .. I enjoy reading about our coasts here in Britain too .. so I can imagine as an Australian you wouldn't have seen all the way round .. there are some advantages in having tv!

Cheers to you all .. Hilary

Kelly Steel said...

A fascinating and very informative post about Australia. Thanks Hilary!

Morgan said...

Oh gosh… I LOVE that picture of the Loch Ard Clipper… Soooooo beautiful…

I loved all of this, Hilary. I honestly think you might be the smartest person I've ever met. :) :) :)

Stephanie Faris said...

What an amazing story of the rescue of Eva Carmichael. She must have been terrified!

Tara Tyler R said...

you must research for days to fill these posts with so much history and knowledge!! love it!

australia is on my bucket list - now even more!

Karen Lange said...

This is interesting - I didn't realize the history was so vast and varied. You make it all the more engaging, too! I'd love to visit Australia someday. Thanks so much for educating me yet again. :) Have a great week!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kelly - glad you could pop in and enjoyed a bit about Australia ..

@ Morgan - delighted to see you and thank you .. appreciate your thoughts .. I just pull threads together into something I think we might all enjoy ..

@ Stephanie - I'd just be terrified .. and sit there praying for it all to be over .. so being stuck in the water clinging on in the darkness .. must have been really quite frightening to put it mildly!

@ Tara - thank you .. if something I've read or seen interests me .. then I find out more and put the info into a post .. just delighted everyone seems to enjoy them ..

.. and Australia is on your bucket list .. it's on mine ..

@ Karen - I know about the Explorers from the 1600 - 1700s and having lived in South Africa .. I've known about the Portuguese, Dutch, French and German explorers too .. there's just so much - but we forget where it all started ...

Cheers to you all - Hilary

Crystal Collier said...

Why am I reminded of Tarzan? (The wreck part and surviving...) I've been fascinated with Australia all my life, but more so every time I read about it. (Stolen, David Copperfield etc.) I really need to get there one day.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You write the most interesting posts, Hilary. This was great. Wish I could visit Australia. One of my high school buddies lives there now. It's always fascinated me. Thanks for this.

JJ said...

Australia is one place I have not been, but would love to see. It is on my list.

Sara said...

YOU DID IT AGAIN! You took some geography and made it fascinating with the stories you come up with. I loved the one about Tom and Eva and checked your addition in the comment box. Maybe Eva sensed Tom would never give the sea...

Was the Weedy Seadragon a real creature? What a cool illustration. I guess it's like a sea horse or was that what a seahorse was once called. Ah, I just saw the link. I'll go there and check it out myself:~)

Happy day to you, Hilary!

bazza said...

Hi Hillary. I think the leafy seadragon, in particular, nicely illustrates how Darwin's great theory split opinions. On one hand it is a wonderful example of how evolution over aeons helps the animal to survive by disguising itself. The better it was able to camouflage itself the more likely it was to pass it's genes on. On the other hand creationists could say that it have been 'created'like that!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Julie Flanders said...

I know very little about Australian history so this was so interesting to read. Now have to find your Tom and Eva addition in the comments. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Crystal - I have to say I can't have seen the film Tarzan in that case .. all I can remember is him swinging through trees - obviously missed something!

Thanks too for reminding us about David Copperfield and some of the characters emigrating to Australia ... yet another connection ..

Like you - I'd love to visit ..

@ Joylene - I hope you and hubby can get over to meet up with your friend sometime .. seems a good starting point and reason to go ..

@ JJ - it looks like Australia is on many of our lists ..

@ Sara - appreciate this .. someone else does the work, I just blog about it and in doing so am able to open (my eyes and y)our eyes to different aspects of this earth and its peoples ..

It seems Eva didn't think a match with Tom would work .. but it was interesting to find they'd met again via another shipwreck off the Irish coast ..

As you say the Weedy SeaDragon and the Leafy ones are real little prehistoric monsters .. aren't they just delightful .. Gould who drew the Seadragons was a talented artist and transported convict .. as you saw too ..

@ Bazza - I don't go the creationist route .. but follow Darwin and other scientists as they explore our world .. and over time have worked out where we came from ...

It appears until relatively recently .. the scientists thought humans were a different entity - and so didn't look at our evolution .. we've somewhat caught up now .. a scientific adjustment a few centuries ago ..

@ Julie - I open my own eyes let alone others .. so I'm glad you enjoyed this snippet of Australian history ..

Thanks everyone so much .. lovely to have you here taking an interest .. cheers Hilary

Gattina said...

Interesting post ! If Australia wasn't so far I would go there, maybe one day I manage !

Juliet Batten said...

I had no idea that southern coast was so dangerous. NZ has had its share of shipwrecks too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina .. Australia is one long trip isn't it ... but as you say perhaps one day ...

@ Juliet - I think all coasts have wrecks, but I loved these stories ... and then I could post something about the history and geography/geology ... to add to my knowledge base ...

Cheers to you both .. Hilary