Starting a Loch Ard Historical Society
April 20, 2009
My friend, Len Sherrott, who lives in Melbourne and I are contemplating starting a Loch Ard Historical Society, to gather all information surrounding the the 1878 shipwreck and stir national and international interest as it is starting to slip away from the consciousness of the present generation.
My personal interest is gained from the fact that I am a direct decendant of Eva Carmichael, the sole surviving passenger of the wreck. I am presently working on a screenplay for film or more likely television series of the wreck's story.
My purpose for writing is that I was wondering if you would be interested in giving us some assistance in developing the above Society, as it appears you must be rather interested in ships.
Thank you for you attention.
Sincerely, Richard Townshend
Thank you for your invitation, I do not know how I might be of assistance in getting a Lock Ard Historical Society up and running.
Loch Ard was a steel clipper ship built on the Clyde by Barclay, Curle and Company, and was launched on the 8th. of November 1873. She was 1,693 tons, with a length of 263 feet and 7 inches, a beam of 38 feet and 3 inches, drawing 22 feet, a handsome clipper as were most of her contemporaries, carrying three masts reaching upwards some 150 feet.
She sailed from Gravesend ( in hindsight not an auspiciously named port ) on the 2nd. of March in 1878 bound for Melbourne, with a crew of 36, and 18 passengers, 6 of whom all belonged to the Carmichael family who were migrating to the new Colony.
When she was almost three months out from England, only a few days from her destination, Loch Ard ran into bad weather with poor visibility. Captain George Gibb was way off course, when sheer cliffs almost at the waters edge were sighted, only some 2 kilometers away, he fought to gain more searoom for his ship, dropping anchors. All to no avail, his clipper struck Mutton Bird Island with an awful crash, to sink within 15 minutes.
Loch Ard had come to grief off the now named Loch Ard Gorge, situated in Port Campbell National Park, on the southern coast of Victoria, about 250 kilometers west of Melbourne.
The clipper Loch Ard wrecked off Victorian coast. 1878
Wonderful seascapes rush before your eyes as you negotiate each bend in the road, a sheer drop to the ocean below, on the left side of the road on the journey towards Port Campbell.
The ocean floor in this part of the Victorian coast is indeed littered with the bones of ships that have been wrecked over the years on what is now called The Shipwreck Coast, something like 700 vessels have finished up on the bottom here.
Seascape from Great Ocean Road
Back to the wreck of Loch Ard.
These two young people were in fact the only survivors, 53 crew and passengers including 5 members of Eva's family all perished when the ship foundered. Eva and Tom were taken to Glenample Homestead where they spent some time recovering from their ordeal.
Glenample Homestead where Eva and Tom were taken after their shipwreck ordeal
Clamour from the Media.
Only 4 bodies were recovered from the wreck and the sea, to be buried atop the cliffs looking down on the scene of the shipwreck, in what is now called the Loch Ard Cemetery.
Loch Ard another victim.