Loch Ard (ship)

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Loch Ard (ship, 1873) - SLV H91.108-1068.jpg
United Kingdom
Name: Loch Ard
Owner: Loch Line
Builder: Charles Connell & Company Scotstoun
Launched: 1873
Fate: Wrecked at Mutton Bird Island, 1878
General characteristics
Class and type: Three-masted ship
Tons burthen: 1693 tons
Length: 263 ft.

The Loch Ard was a sailing vessel which was wrecked at Mutton bird Island just off the Shipwreck Coast of Victoria, Australia in 1878. The name was drawn from Loch Ard, a lake which lies to the west of the village of Aberfoyle, and to the east of Loch Lomond. It means "high lake" in Scottish Gaelic.

The Loch Ard belonged to the Loch Line, a major shipping line operating between Great Britain and Australia. It was a three-masted ship, of 263' in length, with a tonnage of 1693 tonnes, and was constructed by Barclay, Curdle & Co. of Glasgow.

Final voyage and wreck[edit]

Loch Ard

The Loch Ard departed England on 1 March 1878, bound for Melbourne, commanded by Captain Gibb and with a crew of 17 men. It was carrying 37 passengers and assorted cargo. On 1 June, the ship was approaching Melbourne and expecting to sight land when it encountered heavy fog. Unable to see the Cape Otway lighthouse, the captain was unaware how close he was running to the coast. The fog lifted around 4am, revealing breakers and cliff faces. Captain Gibb quickly ordered sail to be set to come about and get clear of the coast, but they were unable to do so in time, and ran aground on a reef. The masts and rigging came crashing down, killing some people on deck and preventing the lifeboats from being launched effectively. The ship sank within 10 or 15 minutes of striking the reef.

The only two survivors of the wreck were Eva Carmichael, who survived by clinging to a spar for five hours, and Thomas (Tom) R. Pearce, an apprentice who clung to the overturned hull of a lifeboat. Tom Pearce came ashore first, then heard Eva's shouts and went back into the ocean to rescue her. They came ashore at what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge and sheltered there before seeking assistance. Coincidentally, Tom Pearce was the step son of James Pearce, captain of the ill-fated SS Gothenburg.[1]

The Loch Ard Peacock, from the Loch Ard disaster, now at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum

The Loch Ard's cargo included a range of luxury goods, including a large decorative porcelain peacock made by Minton in England, intended to be displayed in the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. Remarkably, the peacock was recovered completely intact and was eventually able to be displayed a century later for the Victoria Pavilion at the Brisbane 1988 World Exposition. It is now on display at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warrnambool, along with a number of other relics of the wreck.


Eva and the Cabin Boy by Sheila Dewey - produced at the Warehouse Theatre, Croydon in 1994 - concerned the Loch Ard shipwreck.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Picture Australia (2009). Captain James Pearce. Retrieved on 4 June 2009.


External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Lubbock, Basil (1921). The Colonial Clippers (2nd ed.). Glasgow: James Brown & Son. pp. 290, 247–250. OCLC 1750412. 
  • Christopher, Peter (2012). Australian Shipwrecks. A Pictorial History (2nd ed.). Stepney, South Australia: Axiom Publishing. pp. 39–45. ISBN 978 1 8647658 8 5. 

Coordinates: 38°38′55″S 143°04′19″E / 38.64861°S 143.07194°E / -38.64861; 143.07194