01 September 2018

Port Fairy Shipwrecks


A total of 30 vessels were wrecked in and around the waters of Port Fairy between 1836 until 1876. Port Fairy bay being notorious for vessels dragging and parting with their anchors when south/south easterly gales prevailed.

Although the port and river entrance was considered amongst the safest in Victoria, many vessels met their end in Port Fairy.

Barque SOCTRATES 152 Tons.

Built in England in 1821. Arrived in POrt Fairy 28th August 1843 with a full cargo from Portland. For two days she was battered by heavy squalls and huge seas until both her anchors parted on August 30 and she drifted ashore to lie on her beams end. Her master, captain Grant had hoped to re-float her however a board of Masters declared her a total wreck.

Barque LYDIA 277 Tons.

Built in England in 1825. Her master, Caqptain Petrie on the advice from crewman anchored i only 3 fathoms although only drawing 13 feet herself. She was wrecked on the night of february 2, 1847 when the sea rose suddenly. In the swell the Lydia struck several times, driving her stern post up and seriously damaging her keel. She was run ashore and abandoned, although most her cargo was recovered.

Schooner THISTLE 64 Tons.

Built in Calcutta, India 1750. Bought by the Henty brothers in 1832, she made several visits to Portland and took Edward Henty there in 1834. At the time of her wreck on December 25 1837, she was employed to carry wattle bark between Port Fairy and Launceston. She was caught an anchor by a strong south easterly gale and after both anchors parted drove ashore and became a total wreck.

Brig. Essington 123 Tons.

Anchored at Port Fairy and commenced to unload cargo. A south easterly gale sprang up, which gradually increased in strength, bringing a heavy swell into the bay. The Essington parted from its best bower anchor but was brought up on its small bower anchor. However, the vessel struck the bottom in the trough of one wave. As the Essington rode at anchor, it continued to strike the bottom, but it was not making any water. One heavy sea caused the vessel to strike and break the rudder. The anchor began to drag causing the Essington to strike the bottom further as it moved towards the beach. By this time the hull was making water faster than the pumps could cope. When the gale and the sea moderated, attempts were made to unload the cargo, but the water continued to gain on the pumps. A kedge anchor was run ashore and the vessel hauled up on it. All fittings and cargo were then removed and the Essington was abandoned. The wreck of the brig Essington is archaeologically significant for its remains of an early Australian built vessel. It is historically significant for its role in the whaling industry and in the early development of Victoria, and for its association with the pioneers Captain Mills and John Griffiths.

Schooner ELIZA 94 Tons

Built in Port Aurthur Tasmania in 1834 and was blown ashore (slightly north of the present surf life saving club) in December 1866 while in trade carrying potatoes. The hull was sold to a local lighterman.

Brig. Sarah Louisa 

Lost on 6th July 1849. The full force of a July storm caught the Sarah Louisa as she was about to sail for London fully laden with wheat and tallow. She was driven across the bay, the lifeboat crew were summoned to assist and saved all but two of the crew, the steward and the cook. (Off Connolly Street)


Other wrecks in the bay include Diana (1844), Lady Mary Pelham (1849), Sir John Byng (1852), Inellan (1854), Dundee (1854), and Balmoral (1868). Off Griffiths Island and the south coast lie Dusty Miller (1842), Squatter (1846), Swift (1855) and Waterlily (1870).


Brig & Brigantines Brigs 

Are two-masted sailing vessels with square sails on each mast, also fore and aft sails. Brigantines also have two masts, the foremast being square rigged and the main mast fore and aft rigged.


The topsail schooner with two or more masts fore and aft rigged also carried square sails on the fore topmast. Fore and aft schooners had two or more masts all fore and aft rigged.

Barques & Barquentines

Vessels having three or more masts, square rigged on all but the aftermast, which is fore and aft rigged. Barquentines had three masts but carried square rigging on the foremast only, with staysails between the fore and main masts.



About the Blogger



Follow the yellow and blue 'i' signs to the Visitor Information Centre in Port Fairy for tips, maps, brochures and advice on how to make the most of your stay. The Centre contains a comprehensive display of local attractions, wildlife and accommodation options that will help bring to life your Great Ocean Road experience.


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