Shipwreck Coast – The Incredible Journey

This site is where one of the greatest tragedies of the Shipwreck Coast happened, it was here that the Loch Ard sank and only 2 of the 51 people onboard survived Here is where a young sea captain’s last words were a message to his wife, and where a young girl lost her parents, three sisters and two brothers. Today we remember their stories The drama, beauty and wilderness of this part of Victoria’s coastline is breathtaking, here the land doesn’t gently slope down to meet the sea, rather the sea repeatedly attacked the cliffs, carving chunks of rock away until the land is left a solitary pillar of rock, eventually the pillar gives in to the repeated pummelling of the waves and crumbles to join the reefs below, reefs that seethe with foam and salt spray in storms and give this area its other name ‘The Shipwreck Coast’ There are approximately six hundred and thirty eight known shipwrecks along Victoria’s coast and only around 240 of them have been discovered, the small coastal traders and large ships carrying vital cargo and immigrants between Europe, America and the new colonies of Australia often battled severe storms, not only in the treacherous waters of Bass Straight but also at anchor in the precarious safety of Portland Bay This anchor was retrieved by divers from the wreck of the Falls of Halladale. In 1908 she joined the many ships that have come to grief on the reefs of the Shipwreck Coast. On the night of the 14th of November 1908 a navigational error caused the Falls of Halladale to sail through dense fog directly onto the rocks. The crew of 29 safely abandoned ship and all made it safely ashore by boat, leaving the ship foundering with the sails unfurled. For weeks after the wreck large crowds gathered to view the ship as she gradually broke up and then sank in the shallow water, today the Falls of Halladale is a popular destination for recreational divers, some of the original cargo of 56,000 roof slates remained at the site of the wreck along with corroded masses of what used to be coils of barbed wire, 22,000 slates were salvaged in the 1980s and used to provide roofing here at the Fagstaff Hill Maritime Village Not far down the coast from where the Falls of Halladale sank is the site of one of the greatest tragedies of the Shipwreck Coast, it was here that the Loch Ard sank and only 2 of the 51 people on board survived The Loch Ard left England on March the 1st, 1878, the ship was under the command of 29 year old Captain Gibbs and was full to its capacity of 17 passengers, 37 crew and cargo. On the 1st of June there was much excitement aboard the Loch Ard as after months at sea the captain and passengers were expecting to see land, the coast of Victoria, but when the fog lifted at 4 a.m

Captain Gibbs discovered that the ship was much closer to the cliffs of Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast than anticipated, ordering as much sail to be set as possible he desperately tried to turn the ship out to sea, but the ship soon stopped, the anchors were dropped, but failed to hold and the Loch Ard was tossed and pulled by the waves. Despite the frantic efforts of the captain and the crew the Loch Ard struck a reef connected to Muttonbird Island, waves broke over the ship and the top deck was loosened from the hull, water flooded the cabins, the passengers screamed in terror as the ship began to disintegrate. The mast and rigging came crashing down knocking passengers and crew overboard, there was pandemonium as the crew struggled to launch the lifeboats, when one was finally launched it crashed into the side of the Loch Ard and capsized Tom Pierce, the young ship’s apprentice who launched the lifeboat managed to cling to its overturned hull and sheltered beneath it for hours, he drifted out to sea and then when the tide turned at dawn he was swept into what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge He left the boat and swam to shore, bruised and dazed he found a cave in which to shelter, he was all alone Eva Carmichael was immigrating to Australia with her mother, father, three sisters and two brothers, while waiting to board a lifeboat she spoke with Captain Gibbs he said “If you were saved Eva, let my dear wife know that I died like a sailor,” Eva was then washed off the ship and into the sea, floating in the waves, terrifyed, calling out for help. After five hours in the water Eva was near unconscious and was carried by the waves into the gorge Tom Pierce saw her and swam out to bring her in, there was a case of brandy washed onto the beach which Tom used to revive her. Tom then climbed out of the gorge and found help from nearby Glenample Station. There, with much care and attention, the two shipwreck survivors gradually recovered and were nursed back to health Tom and Eva were the only two survivors of the 54 people on board the Loch Ard, all the other passengers and crew perished. Eva lost her parents, three sisters and two brothers Despite heroic efforts, only five bodies were ever recovered from the wreck of the Loch Ard and four of them are buried here, in this cliff top cemetery above Loch Ard Gorge, the fifth was buried on the beach where it was discovered. Eva was devastated by the loss of her entire family on that fatal shore, she was now alone in a foreign land and longed for her extended family back in Ireland, however she was devoted to Tom and forever grateful to him for rescuing her, Tom Pierce became a national hero and was awarded the gold medal of the Humane Society in front of 5,000 people on June the 20th 1878 at the Melbourne town hall The romantic sentiment of the time was that Eva and Tom should marry, but this was not to be, within three months Eva had returned to Ireland and they never saw each other again Two days after the shipwreck a wooden packing crate washed onto the beach of the gorge, it contained a life-size sculpture of a peacock, here at the Flagstaff Hill Marine Village in Warrnambool we can see the magnificence of the Loch Ard peacock, it’s the centrepiece of the museum’s collection of cargo that was salvaged from the wreck of the Loch Ard. The Minton peacock was the largest and grandest of the items in the Loch Ard’s cargo, which was destined for display at the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880. The cargo carried by the Loch Ard revealed much about the affluence of Melbourne in

the era of the gold rush; items such as perfumes, pianos, clocks, linen, candles, confectionery, umbrellas and straw hats were on board together with heavier more industrial items such as railway irons, lead, cement and copper. At 144 centimeters tall the peacock is quite big and very fragile, that something so fragile could have survived the violence of a shipwreck is quite remarkable, I like to think it represents the hopes and aspirations of so many of those migrants who came out in similar circumstances aboard a ship and those of course who didn’t make it About 15 metres off Warrnambool breakwater there is the La Bella reef the reef got its name when the La Bella sank here on November 10th 1905, the La Bella approached Warrnambool at the end of a 37 day voyage, she was carrying a cargo of timber from New Zealand, the seas were heavy and mist hung low over the bay as the captain steered La Bella into the channel, here the ship was tossed onto its side by heavy breakers and ran aground on the reef, the sea was so rough that it wrenched a 1.5 ton anchor from the vessel. Several attempts were made by volunteers in lifeboats to rescue the stricken sailors but the rough conditions were too difficult and the boats returned to shore. The La Bella’s crew became exhausted and sailors were being washed overboard, one by one, by sunrise only 5 of the 12 crew still clung to the wreck 25 year old William Farrier was a local fisherman who wanted to help. In the morning he rode his small dinghy through the heavy seas and managed to rescue the captain, a volunteer lifeboat rescued a further three sailors, there was one terrified sailor left on the wreck, William made a final attempt and was able to reach the sailor just before the ship broke up and sank. [AVIS]The weather was stormy, no moon, all they knew that the waves were very high breaking over the reef, no lights of course there wasn’t electricity to have search lights out playing on the water or anything, so at 3 o’clock in the morning it was very dark. I think William Farrier was the one who had the least nerves, never took orders from anybody, did his own thing completely and he just left the lifeboat when the first two attempts turned them back and that’s when he got his own little skiff, he went out to the wreck twice after he’d got the first fellow off he brought him back around the breakwater into Lady Bay and handed him over and just promptly turned around the road back again and he knew he was capable of doing that, he didn’t want interference he was his own man, he could do it so he just went and did it [GARY] William Farrier became a national hero he was awarded the silver medal for bravery by the Royal Humane Society and was honored by the Prime Minister and the governor. Farrier’s rescue efforts are one of the most heroic in Victoria shipwreck history, the wreck now lies in 13 metres of water and is home to an abundance of marine life, William Farrier eventually left Warrnambool and became a lighthouse keeper. Light houses were the saviour for thousands who journeyed along the shipwreck coast Cape Otway light station is the oldest lighthouse on the Australian mainland, it’s operated continuously since 1848 Before Bass Straight was discovered by Matthew Finders around 1799, ships had to sail around Tasmania, Van Diemen’s land back then, taking an extra week to ten days, but the path between King and Flinders Islands in the mainland is still treacherous, crew on sailing ships call it ‘threading the needle’

In the Bass Straight the mighty Southern Ocean is forced through a passage merely 90 kilometres wide and up onto the continental shelf where the sea bottom becomes relatively shallow, in these parts the wind blows and swells of 10 to 20 meters aren’t rare. On a typical day the swell is about 6 meters During the 1840s increased immigration and direct mail services from England meant that shipping through Bass Strait was on the increase, the number of wrecks along the Bass Straight coast clearly indicated the urgent need for a lighthouse but action to build one wasn’t taken until after the 1845 Cataraqui wreck, this immigrant ship ran onto the west coast of King Island and all 399 passengers and crew died, it remains Australia’s worst marine disaster, and then the Cape Otway light station was built between 1846 and 1848 the lamp was finally lit on the 29th of August 1848, it was manufactured in London and was brought ashore at Cape Otway through crashing surf in small boats. The light mechanism consisted of 21 polished reflectors and lamps mounted on a frame, originally it was fuelled by whale oil, then kerosene and later electricity, the light shone nearly 50 kilometres out to sea and gave a really bright light its brightness is equivalent to 1 million candles. About 30 ships were wrecked off the coast just out from Cape Otway, from the lighthouse Two of the most significant of these ships were Jenny and Eric the Red Jenny was sunk in 1854, now just a few years after this lighthouse was completed in 1848 gold was discovered in Ballarat and workers throughout Australia went AWOL as they searched for their fortune at Ballarat, they left their jobs and even some of the assistant lighthouse keepers here at Cape Otway left their position, left their post, and made their way to Ballarat. Now it was during this time that the head lighthouse keeper had taken full responsibility for keeping the lamp burning and during this time, one morning while walking on the nearby beach, he found a large section of fresh mast and he knew that a ship had sunk, he then went searching and sure enough, at a beach not far from here, he discovered the survivors of the Jenny, he brought them back here to the lighthouse station at Cape Otway and cared for them using his own supplies until help was provided In 1851 Victoria had a population of 77,000 people, by 1861, just ten years later, the population of Victoria was 540,000 people, which was half the total population of Australia. People were rushing to Victoria in the hunt for gold, most of them arrived by sea with ships carrying people and ships carrying the supplies they ordered in from overseas and ships carrying the gold they dug up and sent back to England Each of these ships face the same treacherous conditions along the Shipwreck Coast, each of the passengers and crew knew all about the tragic shipwrecks but they had no other option for travel, so continued their journey, placing their faith in the captain and hoping that the weather would be mild and they would make it through the dangerous waters safely, when the weather was rough every person on board would strain their eyes to see the light shining from the Cape Otway lighthouse, the Lady Bay lighthouse in Warrnambool and the other lighthouses dotted along the shipwreck coast We’re all on a journey of some kind, hoping that we’ll have good conditions

as we make choices about work or study or family, as we travel through life Sometimes our journey is through thick fog, the waves are rough, there’s a storm, and you feel in your bones that danger must be close by, but you just can’t see it, then the bright beacon of a lighthouse cutting through the mist and showing the way is the saviour John chapter 8 and verse 12 says “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of Life.” Like the passengers and crew on the ships that sailed along the shipwreck coast, to thread the needle to reach Melbourne, you may feel you’re traveling in a dark storm or thick fog, whatever storm you may be facing right now remember that psalm 119 verse 105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Today Jesus is still seeking and rescuing the lost and calling men and women, boys and girls everywhere and offering to take them to a place of peace and safety. If you feel you are drowning under the burdens of life, if you are being tossed about in a stormy sea of despair and heartache, if you are being blown around by the winds of strife and pain, then remember Jesus offers security, happiness and fulfilment and what a great difference that makes to a person’s life. If you would like to experience that difference in your life, if you’d like to be part of the greatest rescue story and have Jesus rescue you, why not ask him right now as we pray? Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and goodness to us, the Bible is one big story of your rescue plan and it takes the whole Bible to tell this story, the story of our rescue and in this story Jesus is always at the centre because he is our rescuer. Father we’re often buffeted by the winds and storms of life, thank you for loving us so much and for sending Jesus to rescue us, we want to be part of your rescue plan and have you save us and take us to a place of safety and security in Jesus We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen We all love rescue stories and we all love heroes, they stir our emotions. Some of the most dramatic, amazing and exciting rescue stories ever are found in the Bible. The stories of Daniel, Noah, Jonah, Joseph, Rahab and others have been shared, told and loved for generations, they never lose their appeal and are as popular today as ever, but the most amazing and incredible story is when

Jesus Christ rescued you and me. We are part of the greatest rescue story and he is our rescuer, Jesus offers security, happiness and fulfilment and what a great difference that makes to our lives If you’d like to experience that difference in your life, I’d like to recommend the free gift we have for all our viewers today, it’s a booklet called: Finding Courage to Meet Life’s Challenges There’s no cost or obligation Finding Courage to Meet Life’s Challenges is absolutely free, there is no cost or obligation whatsoever, so please don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to receive the free gift we have for you today. Here’s the information you need: phone or text us at 0436 333 555 or visit our website to request today’s free offer and we’ll send it to you totally free of charge and with no obligation. So don’t delay, call or text 0436 333 555 in Australia or 020 422 2042 New Zealand or visit our website to request today’s offer Write to us at PO Box 5101 Dora Creek, New South Wales 2264 Australia or PO Box 76673 Manukau, Auckland 2241 New Zealand Don’t delay, phone or text 0436 333 555 in Australia or 020 422 2042 in New Zealand to request today’s free offer, call or text us now If you’ve enjoyed today’s journey be sure to join us again next week when we will share another of life’s journeys together and experience another new and thought-provoking perspective on the peace, insight, understanding and hope that only the Bible can give us. The Incredible Journey truly is television that changes lives Until next week remember the ultimate destination of life’s journey, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”