Wreck of the Admella, 14 August 1859  


Nationality: Built at the Port of Glasgow, 1857, in service March 1858, Australia

Vessel type: Iron screw steamer, twin 100HP engines and three sails

Date lost: Saturday 6 August 1859

Cause of loss: Wrecked on a submerged reef off the coast of Carpenter Rocks, S.A.

Number of Casualties: 89 casualties including 75 adults and 14 children. (24 survivors)

Discovery date (if applicable): N/A

Location/water depth: Off Cape Banks, near Carpenter Rocks, SA

The SS Admella was a passenger steamship named after her trading route - Adelaide, Melbourne and Launceston. In the early hours of August 6th 1859 she struck a submerged reef off Cape Banks near Carpenter Rocks, SA. In less than 15 minutes the Admella broke into three parts.


Survivors clung to the wreck for over a week. Two crew made it to shore on a raft and raised the alarm at Cape Northumberland lighthouse 13 nautical miles away. Many people took days to die as they glimpsed the land from the sea and watched as rescue attempts in the Corio (from Adelaide) and Ladybird (from Portland) failed.


A full week after the wreck the Portland lifeboat was towed to the scene and after several attempts rescued the remaining survivors who were then brought to Portland to recover. Of the 113 on board 89 perished including 14 children.

Benjamin Rochford's inscribed watch

Admella Relief Fund Certificate

Admella Plaque 

James Keen, Admella medal

Captain James Fawthrop

The Survivors and Rescuers

  • Bridget Ledwith was the only female survivor. Other survivors were taken to Mac’s Hotel, Portland. Bridget was taken to the Doctor’s home.
  • An Admella Relief and Reward fund was established and those involved in the rescue were presented with medals. A marble plaque naming the rescuers was created.






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


  • Portland Lifeboat Crew
  • Bridget Ledwith, only female survivor



  • Replica Admella Medal (c. 1990)
  • Souvenir mug (2009) showing the logo/crest from the Admella tableware


AMMC Member Institution

Glenelg Shire Council Cultural Collection

submitted by Trevor Smith

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