SUBMERGED

Shipwreck stories submitted as part of the Submerged: stories of Australia’s shipwrecks project are now live on the AMMC website. We received 67 stories from 46 organisations across Australia. AMMC Members are now invited to read and enjoy these stories and take part in the selection of stories for the final banner exhibition, touring Australia from 2018.

 

To read shipwreck stories click on the links below or at the Submissions tab.

Vote on your favourite shipwreck stories here.  (Note: you must be an AMMC Member to vote)

150 year search for the elusive Mary Ann!
The first paddle steamer built on the Murray River has eluded many over the past 150 years who have attempted to find this precious piece of Australia’s maritime history.
   
A Case of Cowardly Crewmen
How could two ships collide on a clear night, causing one of NSW’s worst peacetime maritime disasters?
   

A Monumental Mistake
At the height of the gold rush, the luxury steamship Monumental City entered the burgeoning inter-colonial trade between Sydney and Melbourne.

   

A short mile from safety
Departing Adelaide, with 113 passengers and crew, Admella, too close inshore, struck the Carpenter Rocks on Saturday morning, a mile from the beach.

 

   
Aborigines risk their lives to save the crew of the Rover
Her canvas in rags The Rover struggled back to Broulee Bay in October 1841.
   
An ordinary ship with an extraordinary captain
In 1852, the barque Margaret Brock left Port Adelaide bound for Melbourne, carrying 44 passengers and crew, plus cargo.
   

An Unassuming Hero
William Ferrier was a local Warrnambool sailor. He had spent the day at home due to a poisoned hand but when at about 9.00pm he heard the shipwreck call he got up from his bed and raced to help with the rescue.

   
Bloated and blackened bodies littered the beach
The horribly mutilated corpses of men, women and children were found strewn along the 90 Mile Beach in the weeks following the sinking of the SS Glenelg in the early hours of 25 March 1900.
   

Bloodshed Feared in the Night
On a cold winters night a large group of non-unionised shearers (strike breakers) slept snugly onboard the Paddle Steamer Rodney, anchored on the Darling River two miles above Moorara Station, on their way to Toolarno Station near Menindee, to break a bitter shearers strike.

   

Brier Holme: Out of reckoning – a navigational disaster
The barque Brier Holme sailed from London for Tasmania on 21 July 1904. After a slow voyage Brier Holme closed the coast of Tasmania on 5 November.

   

Casino luck a big fluke!
The BKSN’s SS Casino was three weeks short of 50 years of continuous service when disaster struck. She departed Melbourne for Western ports with 2 passengers, 17 crew and cargo.

   

Convict made good, but doomed…
The owner of the Albatross, ship’s carpenter William Garrard, Convict number 6306, arrived in WA in 1862 convicted of receiving stolen goods.

   

Death of a Clipper
The Aberdeen clipper was familiar to nearly every colonist, being one of the favourite and most regular traders between London and Sydney during its 17 year association with the colony.

   

Degei on the rocks
Degei was built as a patrol boat in 1940 by the Public Works Department at Suva, Fiji.  Named for a Fijian deity.  After leaving Fiji she fished at Eden and eventually Port Lincoln.  (owner Bill Gordon)

   

Disgruntled carpenter gets revenge
The Gudrun was one of the largest wooden vessels to ever visit the WA Coast. On August 4th 1901 the ship left Bunbury for Falmouth, England with 3000 tonnes of timber onboard.

   

Don Isidro a WWII ‘blockade-runner’ sunk off Darwin February 1942
Don Isidro was a medium-sized ship of 3,200 tons, built in 1939 at Kiel, Germany for the De La Rama Steamship Company, which ran an inter-island passenger service throughout the Philippines and parts of Southeast Asia.

   

End of an Era
The Merimbula operated between Sydney and the far south coast of New South Wales between 1909 and 1928. 

   

Escapologist magically raises ship
William Kelly, Kiama escapologist and father of three-time Oscar winner Orry Kelly, was renowned for the Monte Cristo trick.

   

Fiery end for Empress
The London-bound three-masted Empress of the Sea anchored off Queenscliff in the evening of December 18, 1861, with a cargo of wool bales, wheat, flour, leather, whale oil, whale bone, 180 tons of copper ore - and gold worth £80,000.

   

From Steamships to Suffragettes
The very strange and totally-unexpected Crimean War-era gunboat engine on SS Xantho, required quite some explanation.

   

God grant someone may be saved to tell the tale
Australia’s worst civil maritime disaster, the 802 ton barque Cataraqui, carrying 367 passengers and a crew of 42 smashed on the west coast of King Island on 4 August 1845.

   

Greatest Australian Naval Disaster Still Shrouded in Mystery
The German ship HSK Kormoran had disguised themselves as a Dutch merchant in order to travel north along the West Australian coastline.

   

Greyhound of the River
The historic paddle-steamer Canally was originally built in 1907. Significant to the river trade along the Murray, and also had a key role in the construction of the Murray River Lock system.

   

Hit Liguanea Island, sank at Fishery Bay
Pelamis was built 1945 by Reginald Adams and Alf Clayton at Cattle Bay, Eden,  NSW. 

   

HMS Sirius - flagship of the First Fleet
At midday 19 March 1790 HMS Sirius, flagship of the First Fleet, wrecked on the reef off Kingston.

   

Iron Baron
The crew weighed anchor as the pilot approached. The ship’s Master positioned the ship for the Pilot to board as strong winds and a south flowing tide drew the ship closer to the reef.

   

Japanese pearling mothership
The Sanyo Maru is the wreck of a Japanese pearling mother-ship that sank in a squall off the Arnhem Land coast in 1937.

   

Lightning strikes
The USA-built Lightning, reputably the fastest wooden sailing ship afloat, was loading cargo at Geelong pier when she caught fire early on the morning of November 1, 1869.  

   

Live to Fight Another Day
The USS Peary (DD226) escaped the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1942 and steamed to Darwin for repairs and further assignment.

   

Loss without life
The composite Barque Zanoni was built in Liverpool in 1865.

   

Lost at sea in an Esky
Prawn trawler the Nor 6 was on her maiden voyage to Carnarvon, skippered by Jack Drinan with three crew.

   

Lost in mysterious circumstances
The loss of the Loch Vennachar in September 1905 started a mystery that would remain unsolved for over seventy years.

   

Military exercise goes down
On 8th March, 1954, one of Australia’s worst peacetime disasters happened off Morna Point NSW.

   

Minesweeper cut in two
On the dark, windy night of November, 20, 1940, the 223-ton minesweeper HMAS Goorangai was sailing from her anchorage off Queenscliff to the more sheltered coast off Portsea, in Port Phillip, when she was sliced in two by the  much larger outward-bound  liner Duntroon.

   

Mistaken Identity or Calculated Cruelty?
On 3rd August 1942, Dureenbee’s eleven man crew were casting nets twenty miles off Moruya Heads, NSW.

   

Mother nature takes control again
A small steel-hulled coaster SS Pappinbarra ran aground on 11 September 1929, onto rocks off Port Stephens on the northern side of Fingal Island during a violent gale.

   

Mysterious end to the voyage of the James Service
On April 27 1878 the James Service began a return journey from India to Melbourne, carrying a crew of three European officers and eleven Malaysian crewmen.

   

Perth’s ghost ship - MV Alkimos
It is rumoured a welder died when accidentally sealed in the hull during the ship’s construction in 1942.

   

Pigeons save Nord
SS Nord, with a cargo of benzine, hit submerged rocks off the East Coast of the Tasman Peninsula

   

Pilot error kills four
A tragic misinterpretation of the tide by pilot Matthew Davidson led to the loss of four lives after the grounding of the two-masted, 180-ton Columbine off Ocean Grove on April 1, 1854.

   

Polmaise Reef Pinch Point
A spur of coral reefs running westward from the Capricorn Bunker Group intrudes about halfway into the width of the Curtis Channel passing Gladstone. Numerous ships foundered here (but not Captain Cook in the Endeavour) during the period 1866-1900.

   

PS ‘Wagga Wagga’: History Marooned
The abandonment of the PS Wagga Wagga on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River at Narrandera in 1918 marked the end of an era.

   

SS Otus
SS Otus was built at Coopernook by Denis Sullivan in 1914.

   

Strangers on the Shore - Stefano's survivors
Stefano struck Ningaloo Reef at night during a voyage from Cardiff, Wales to Hong Kong carrying a cargo of 1300 tons coal.

   

Sunken Treasure – 248,000 silver coins lost to the sea
With a hold full of treasure the Zuytdorp, a Dutch East India Company merchant ship smashed against Shark Bay’s coastal cliffs in June 1712.

   

Thar' She Blows
After 36 years as a whale chaser in Norway and Australia, SS Cheynes II left Hobart in 1983 with 25 adventurers on a research voyage to Heard Island, Antarctica.

   

The Britomart Mystery
Departing Melbourne for Hobart in 1839, the Britomart was carrying general cargo. When the ship failed to reach Hobart there was great concern.

   

The car park whaler - Samuel Wright
Captain Francis Coffin in his ship Samuel Wright pioneered North American whaling off Western Australia’s coast.

   

The Centaur: from imposing to wreckage
The Centaur is an imposing creature from Greek mythology.

   

The day the lifeboat didn’t come
A fierce gale was raging as the paddle steamer Yarra Yarra attempted to enter Newcastle harbour.

   

The Foam: One voyage too many
The labour trading vessel Foam was outward bound on a recruitment voyage to the South Sea Islands when it struck Myrmidon Reef.

   

The Last Great Sailing Ship
The wreck of the Loch Ard is famous for marking the end of the great age of sail symbolised by the magnificent 19th century clipper ships that travelled the world’s trade routes.

   

The last passage of the Royal Mail Steamship Quetta
An uncharted outcrop lay beneath the calm waters of Adolphus Channel.

   
The Legend of the Kameruka pigs
On 16th October 1897 nearing midnight, disaster struck the SS Kameruka as she steamed towards Moruya Heads.
   

The ship the sea swallowed
The violent storm in late November 1934 was the worst ever seen at the Rip.

   

The Sydney ferry that became a fishing reef in South Australia
The ship Estelle was built in 1927 at Woy Woy NSW for use as a passenger and cargo ferry in the Lavender Bay area of Sydney harbour.

   

The Unlucky Voyage: Mutiny in the Abrolhos
The loss of the Dutch Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) ship Batavia in 1629 on the West Australian coast and subsequent mutiny is one of the most dramatic events in Dutch and Australian history.

   

The Unsinkable Admella
Imagine the excitement, 19 women, 15 children, 47 men,and crew of 28 boarding on her maiden voyage.

   

The wreck of the Sydney Cove
In 1796, Calcutta-based firm Campbell and Clark re-fitted a ship for a speculative voyage to Australia, re-naming it Sydney Cove.

   

The Wreck that Shaped a City
By splitting Hobart in two the collision between the Lake Illawarra and the Tasman Bridge had a profound effect on the shape of the city’s development.

   

The wrecking of the Royal Mail Steamer Quetta: loss and aftermath
On a calm and moonlit night, RMS Quetta entered Adolphus Channel on its 12th voyage.

   

They swum us to land, took us up to their camp, tended our wounds, wrapped us in their blankets…
In March 1847, the paddle steamer Sovereign was on her way to Sydney. Whilst trying to cross the South Passage Bar she ran aground.

   

What might have been
During a survey of the coasts of Terra Australis in HMS Investigator in 1802 the ship was discovered to be unsound.

   

When World War 2 came to Port Macquarie
A hand-written, weighted note was dropped from a low flying Catalina flying-boat to the startled townspeople of Port Macquarie.

   

World War 2 Comes to Victorian Shores
In late October 1940 the German ship Passat laid 40 mines in the narrow, busy sea lane between Cape Otway and King Island.

   
 

Wreck of the Maitland – A scene to make the angels weep
The paddle steamer left Sydney at 11pm on May 5, 1898 bound for Newcastle. Soon after leaving, with 36 passengers and 32 crew, it was beset by the worst gale in 20 years.

   

Wreck of the SS Admella
The SS Admella was a passenger steamship named after her trading route - Adelaide, Melbourne and Launceston.

   

WWI in Australian Waters
While Australians were fighting far from home during the First World War, the German raider, Wolff, was laying sea mines closer to home.

 

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Blog Posts

Polmaise Reef Pinch Point

Posted by Submerged on September 1, 2017 at 16:00 0 Comments

Polmaise Reef wrecks



Nationality:
Various—mostly British, one German

Vessel type: Schooner, brigs, barques and a barquentine

Date lost: 1866-1900

Cause of loss: Foundering on coral reef

Number of Casualties:…

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Aboriginal people risk their lives to save the crew of the Rover

Posted by Submerged on August 21, 2017 at 15:30 0 Comments

The Rover wreck exposed 1901



Nationality:
Australian

Vessel type: Schooner

Date lost: 13 October 1841

Cause of loss: Anchored in wrong area

Number of Casualties: 11 buried

Discovery date…

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The Legend of the Kameruka pigs

Posted by Submerged on August 21, 2017 at 15:30 0 Comments



Shipwreck crew from SS Kameruka



Nationality:
Australian

Vessel type: Steamer

Date lost: 16th October 1897

Cause of loss: Ran aground on rocks

Number of Casualties: None

Discovery date…

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Loss without life

Posted by Submerged on August 21, 2017 at 15:30 0 Comments

Zanoni Ship’s Bell at the Ardrossan Museum



Nationality:
British

Vessel type: Composite barque

Date lost: 11 Feb 1867

Cause of loss: Sunk in a squall 

Number of Casualties: None

Discovery…

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