Stun Sail Boom River

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Coordinates: 35°59′21″S 137°00′37″E / 35.9891°S 137.0103°E / -35.9891; 137.0103 (Stun Sail Boom River) The Stun Sail Boom River (or variants Stunsail Boom River and Stuns'l Boom River) is located on the rugged south coast of Kangaroo Island, a large island off the South Australian coast. The southern and western coast of this island is notorious for its shipwrecks as it lies directly on the path of ships that were bound for South Australia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The wreck of the Loch Vennachar, on 6 September 1905 with the loss of all hands, is an example.[1]


The river was named after the boom of the stuns'l, sailors slang for studding sail located on the outside of the square rigging of a sailing ship, after Robert Fisher and others found a stun'sail boom at its mouth on 7 November 1836.[2]

The river's name came to some prominence when the French merchant ship Montebello went aground near the Stunsailboom Station in the early hours of Sunday, 18 November 1906.[3] The ship collided with a reef not far from shore. One brave sailor, Louis Yrebot, swam at great peril with a small line to shore. Increasingly stronger lines followed and a flying fox was established between a large boulder on the shore and the mizzen mast of the stricken ship. All the remaining crew, including a badly injured sailor from an earlier accident, were transferred safely to shore via the flying fox.

Five of the French sailors then made their way through remote and wild countryside and stumbled upon Tilka Hut. Here they were almost immediately found by local lad Percy May, a wallaby trapper, who happened to be passing while delivering a letter to one of the two Tilka sisters, Carlina and Christina, on Stunsailboom Station. The Tilka Sisters looked after the sailors while Percy May made a dramatic 100 mile journey on horseback, that required swimming two rivers, to raise the alarm in the town of Kingscote.[3] Several landmarks remain today as evidence of the wreck. The Stunsail Boom River Station shearing shed is fabricated from original timbers which bear marks of marine origin, notably their rounded edges and bleached appearance. Also remains of the Montebello's steam boiler are wedged between granite rocks on the foreshore at Shelly Beach, the first of several small coves on the inhospitable southern coast to the west of the Stunsail Boom River mouth.


  1. ^ ABC - Shipwrecks - Loch Vennachar
  2. ^ State Library of South Australia - Place Names of South Australia, accessed 7-July-2010
  3. ^ a b The Advertiser, Friday 23 November 1906