Shipwrecks of a Bygone Era

The stunning shoreline of the Ninety Mile Beach in Gippsland, Australia separates Bass Strait from the Gippsland Lakes, with the sandy beaches, edged by sand dunes, stretching for approximately 94 miles or 151 kilometers.  In years long past, this pristine stretch of  beach, uninterrupted by rocky headlands, provided no safe harbour for sail and steam vessels when storms and gale force winds hit, leaving the coastline scattered with many offshore wrecks and the occasional onshore wreck.

On a recent trip to the area we chose to head to one such onshore wreck, that of the barque ‘Trinculo’, where the skeleton of the wreck is still visible on the beach near the small coastal village of Golden Beach.

Heading south-west from Golden Beach, I knew that we needed to travel approximately 6.7 km to the signposted car park.  Fortunately I was on the look out, as we saw the small sign as we drove past!  So a quick ‘U’ turn, we parked the car, rugged up, and headed off along the sandy track that took us over the dunes, coming out immediately where the partial skeleton rose above the glorious cream-caramel coloured sand.

It was a cold, windy day, blue skies and clouds…  The beach, with waves crashing heavily, was isolated and just seemed to go on forever in both directions, inviting us to walk and enjoy the pristine isolation before us.

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Probably not what those onboard the Trinculo must have thought on the morning of 30 May  1879, as the fury of the elements forced the barque off course near Wilsons Promentary, eventually having her run aground just offshore near Golden Beach!

On board were the captain,  his wife and 16 month old infant, and the crew.    Taking the logline, Thomas Lefevre, one of the ships’ crew, took to the raging sea, and battling undertows and breakers, he eventually made it ashore, exhausted, but able to hold his own.  Initially working alone to get a stronger line set in place,  he was followed by two other seaman and the rescue began.

Eventually all those onboard were brought to shore, some of whom were made quite unwell by the ordeal, in particular one seaman, Mrs Williams, and the Williams’s 16 month old infant.  Having strapped the infant to his back, Captain Williams took his turn to make the journey ashore, unfortunately as he came through the breakers he was forced heavily on his back, and he believed that his son had died.  Up on the beach, the little child eventually recovered, as did Mrs Williams and the seaman.  It would be two days until help arrived.  Seaman Lefevre received a silver medal from the Humane Society for his actions and bravery.

Below are some newspaper articles of the time, they make for interesting reading.

It was also at this location on 22 March 1881, that the paddle steamer “Paynesville was run aground after taking on water.  This wreck is now buried deep beneath the sand and no longer visible.

PS Paynesville Wreck (The Argus, 22 March 1881)

Shells washed up on Ninety Mile Beach, Gippsland

Until next time…

Get out, enjoy nature and discover…

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