Supplying Lighthouses - A Dangerous Business

Date of Event: Saturday 21st March 1896

Vessel type: Supply boat- Oared

Location: Blanket Bay ( Cape Otway) South West Victoria

Suggested title: Supplying Lighthouses - A Dangerous Business

 

Isolated Cape Otway, South West Victoria, has seen a Landfall lighthouse there since 1848. For Keepers & their families, supplies arrived by sea, twice a year. Supplies were landed by the boat crew, then conveyed 6kms by bullock dray to the Lightstation.

For boat crews, the transfer of supplies from supply ship to smaller boat and their landing at Blanket Bay was dangerous, with several near disasters.

On Saturday 21st March 1896, their luck ran out. The boat; laden with supplies, with a crew of six and two passengers, twice capsized off Blanket Bay. The first time they managed to right the boat and get in, the second time, three men drowned. Alex Mathieson & Thomas Monk could not swim. Albert Griffiths was seen clinging to a rock for 20 minutes before being swept away. A memorial to them was erected at the small Station cemetery, Monk was buried there.

Interesting anecdote

One rescuer stood out, Joseph King; aka Joe the Hermit. A one handed elderly man from the Cape Verde Islands. He lived at Blanket Bay in a cave. They noted his; ‘excellent work in rescuing the party, providing them with a meal, clothing and rubbing their wounds with eucalyptus oil’.

URLS:

http://www.lightstation.com

Please briefly note any objects (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the story

The Lightstation does possess contemporary images from the 1890's - Available on request.

Name of person submitting the story

Alex Parry

 

AMMC Member Institution

Cape Otway Lightstation

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