"Wreck of Loch Ard" a poem by Graeme McIntosh

December 22, 2009

Wreck of Loch Ard

Hi Mac, thanks to Google I am able to contact you. I write contempory and Australian Bush Poetry. Several years ago I wrote a verse about the wreck of the Loch Ard which has always fascinated me whenever I have visited the site. I plan to publish my works one day and all are copyright. Please see attached perhaps you may know the email address of the American descendent of Eva Carmichael I will send him a copy as well. If you know of any other associations or organisations who may be interested in it I can give permission for it to be used.

Best regards.
Graeme McIntosh


By Graeme McIntosh

She was commissioned on the Clyde in 1873,
One of the finest iron clipper ships that ever put to sea.
The pride of the Scottish Highlands she carried in her name
But fate would plot a different course of tragedy not fame

She would sail the greatest distances the company ships then made
From Britain to Australia, she joined the great wool trade
“She was a fast and comfortable ship” said those who’d sailed aboard
Her maiden voyage took Ninety-three days, her future was assured.

She left the port of Gravesend in 1878
The name a sinister portent of events that would take place.
Bound for the city of Melbourne on the far side of the globe
With eighteen passengers and Thirty-six crew, general cargo was her load.

Among the passengers on the ship was a doctor and his wife
with their six excited children off to start a brand new life
Joining the crew was a lad named Pearce, apprenticed to the ship
To start a career upon the sea this was his maiden trip.

For many months they sailed serene on the highways of the sea
And in three days time they’d be ashore having reached their destiny
She was making steady progress around the Southern coast that night
Captain Gibb had sent a man aloft to catch the Otway light.

One of the wildest coastlines in the world with steep foreboding cliffs
And hidden reefs that held the bones of wayward passing ships
Their course was plotted well offshore and they considered she was safe
They thought the rocks were miles to port but they had made a big mistake.

As the morning haze cleared briefly tall cliffs loomed up ahead
Breakers dashed against the rocks a sound all sailors dread
The piercing shriek of the wheeling gulls cut through the oceans roar
Taunting those who knew the tales of sirens on the shore

More sail was set in a desperate bid to turn the ship away
Courage and luck were needed now if they were going to save the day
But before the ship could turn around she was caught upon a reef
A tack to port did not succeed the anchors dragged beneath.

She struck a ledge which pierced the stern and started taking water
Settling on the rugged reef the mighty seas then caught her
She went in to a sickening roll her masts then struck the cliffs
Great chunks of rock came crashing down scattering all beneath

The wind howled through the rigging like a banshee on the ride
The masts then snapped like matchsticks and were washed over the side
Women screamed in anguish as they clutched their loved ones near
While the men tried hard to gain control and overcome their fear.

Attempts were made to launch a boat, which immediately capsized
All hands were washed into the sea only one remained alive
He clung beneath the upturned boat, which drifted to the land
Then dived into the raging surf, which dumped him on the sand.

It was apprentice Pearce who had made it to the shore
His eyes then scanned the boiling surf to see if there were more
A plaintive cry came wafting in above the crashing waves
A figure clinging to a spar then caught his wishful gaze.

The doctor’s daughter Eva had been washed into the sea
She was battered by the oceans surge and flotsam breaking free
She struggled hard to stay afloat though the shore seemed far away
But a floating spar riding on the waves was there to save her day.

Pearce dived into the water and fought the raging sea
He steered them back towards the cliffs where they huddled in the lee
They were stranded in a gorge and found a cave in which to hide
Of all the passengers and the crew they were the only ones alive.

Pearce wrapped his coat around the girl then scaled the towering walls
He staggered through the stunted bush two stockmen heard his call
They were from Glenample homestead rounding up their sheep
And he told them how the ship Loch Ard was rent upon the reef.

The girl stayed at the homestead until the evidence was plain
Her missing family would not appear, she alone would bear the pain
Pearce was hailed a hero awarded a medal for bravery
And then returned to live a life once more upon the sea.

Five lonely graves are all that’s left upon that windswept shore
Glenample is a tourist stop a homestead there no more
They have named the site the “Loch Ard Gorge” in memory of the ship
And those who perished in the depths, and did not complete their trip.

© Graeme McIntosh



Thank you for that, it is amazing how the internet may link people round the world to share a common interest.

I do not have the E-Mail address of the US descendent of Eva.

Do I take it I have your permission to add your poem to my Lock Ard story on AHOY? Of course with suitable

I am grateful for your contact.

I have just sent a book I have done on WW2 to a small boutique printer here in Victoria at Kilmore, Caroline does all it herself and is able to offer a good price when compared to any other I looked at.

I am only doing 20 copies to start, and thereafter I may order one at a time for A$15, after paying legal, set up, and proof copy costs in the order of A$500. It has a host of black and white photos in it, and runs to 265 pages. Whenever you contemplate going to print give me a yell, as I would recommend National Biographic without any hesitation.

Have a safe and great Christmas and a good 2010.


Mac Please use the poem on your website I have tried to capture the horror that must have been present when a ship hits the rocks, the wind, waves and the sound of the ship breaking up must have been terrible. I would be interested in contacting your publisher I have about 30 different poems covering a wide variety of subjects. I am currently in Alice Springs but will return to my base in Bendigo sometime next year so Kilmore is on my doorstep.

Cheers Graeme


Thank you.

My book publisher is National Biographic at Suite 5, 11 Sydney Street Kilmore Vic 3764. Contact Caroline Lodwick.

Phone 57 822 992, E-Mail: caroline@lodwick.id.au 



Here is Richard Townhend's E mail address in the US, he is happy to hear from you.


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