Loch Ard at anchor. Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village

Nationality: Glasgow Scotland

Vessel type: 3-masted Clipper

Date lost: Sat. 01 June 1878 about 4.15am (sunrise 6.55am)

Cause of loss: Ran into coastal cliffs after several days of fog prevented accurate navigational fixes being made

Number of Casualties: 51 (total passengers 17, crew 36) 1 passenger 1 crew survived

Discovery date: Rediscovered 1967

Location/water depth: Mutton Bird Island, 3 km east of Port Campbell Victoria. 18/24 metres

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, and for suffering the greatest loss of life (51 people died) of any shipwreck along the Shipwreck Coast of South West Victoria.

It is also famous for the tragic and yet romantic story of the two young people who survived (Tom Pearce apprentice sailor, and Eva Carmichael passenger, both 18) and for the almost miraculous recovery of the Minton Majolica Ware Peacock now known as ‘The Loch Ard Peacock’ and the third survivor.

After 90 days sailing from England on this day, the 1st June 1878, she would arrive in Melbourne; if she could find the elusive ‘Eye of the Needle’. Unfortunately, the ‘Shipwreck Coast’ waited in the predawn darkness to claim yet another unsuspecting victim.

Ghost Story

  • Some days after the wreck about 12 bodies were seen washed into a blowhole to the west of the Loch Ard wreck site. They were all covered in a ‘ghostly green glow’. (true story: the ship was carrying phosphorous matches)
  • After getting to shore, Tom and Eva spent most of June 1st sleeping in the same cave but Victorian sensibilities demanded that they could not spend this time together unsupervised. Thus that cave became Miss Carmichael’s cave, while the big cave to the east became Tom Pearce’s cave.

Miss Eva Carmichael, aged 18. 

Miss Eveline V. Carmichael 1884.

Tom Peace, 1884. 

Captain George Gibb, ca. 1878. 

Commemorative headstone. Image courtesy Ron Sproston (2011). 

Entrance to Loch Ard Gorge. Image courtesy Ron Sproston (2009). 


The Victorian Heritage Listed Loch Ard Peacock.  Image courtesy Ron Sproston



Objects of interest (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the shipwreck story.

  • Booklet: The Peacock That Became a Legend. Author Dr Ron Sproston. Available through Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. (Published 2010. Reprinted and updated 2015)
  • Book: The Lost of the Loch Ard: The Passengers and Crew and Those They Left Behind. Authors Drs Carlyn and Ron Sproston. Available through Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.(Published 2015)

AMMC Member Institution

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum

submitted by Dr Ron Sproston

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