"Shipwreck Coast" should be more aptly named the "Miracle Coast"
May 19, 2009Subject: The Miracle Coast
I read with interest a letter from my Colleague Richard Townsend and your subsequent reply. I would like to mention at this point, since becoming acquainted with Mr Townsend I have developed something just short of an obsession with the tragic Loch Ard. Consequently I have read many books by the late Jack Loney and Melbourne author Don Charlwood. (see "Starting a Loch Ard Historical Society")
One fact which I find glaringly obvious in the face of reference to the "Shipwreck Coast" is that it should be more aptly named the " Miracle Coast ". Consider for a moment the thousands of ships which passed safely through the western entrance to Bass Strait during decades of the Gold Rush.
The stretch of coast in question was regarded as the most hostile in the world. Navigational aides were useful while good conditions prevailed. It was the failure of such equipment in a fog which condemned the Loch Ard to her watery grave.
Captain George Gibb was commended for his bravery and selfless demeanor to the very end. While his ship was doomed and his very life at risk, precious last moments were spent ensuring that every passenger was equipped with a life preserver. Ironically, he chose to entrust Eva with the task of telling his wife "I died like a British sailor!"
Let me conclude with a sad foreboding. Had Eva and Tom not survived, we would know nothing of the details of the wreck. It is highly likely that they both would have perished if not for the close proximity of Glenample Homestead and the benevolence of Hugh Gibson and his wife. In fact Glenample was the centre of activity in the aftermath. Today it stands unnoticed in the shadow of the Great Ocean Road, not even signposted. If the legacy of shipping history in this region is to endure, this place needs to be re-opened to visitors. It should be a drop in centre to generate interest in nearby Loch Ard Gorge and the spectacular Flagstaff Hill Museum in Warrnambool.
The crumbling apostles are still worthy of a photo, but the history of this coast is a human story.
Thank you for your mail. I agree with you that recognition needs to be given to Glenample Homestead, as you suggest, without it and the Gibsons, the Lock Ard story might not have ever been told.
Do you start by asking the Flagstaff Museum to take some action by at least signposting the Homestead?
Or perhaps the Local Shire authority?