Victorian Lighthouses and Shipwrecks – Kitty Miller Bay

I started writing about Victorian Shipwrecks and Lighthouses the other week (read here), it proved quite popular, so I thought I would continue on with it. This week I am going across the bay from Cape Schanck to Phillip Island.


SS Speke – Kitty Miller Bay, Phillip Island

About 1 1/2 hours from Melbourne is the fantastic little Phillip Island, great place to spend a few days, which we did over Easter. Read my other posts here. On one of our day trips we went out to see the SS Speke at Kitty Miller Bay I remember reading a few posts and seeing some photos awhile back [apologies, I cannot remember who did the post!], I see things and write down places I wish to visit, this has been on that list for awhile.


The SS Speke was a three masted steel ship of 2,876 tons and 93 metres, having been built in Wales, 1891, the Speke drifted broadside on to a reef to the east of Kitty Miller Bay on 22 February 1906 while en route from Peru via Sydney to Geelong in ballast to pick up wheat.

Speke on rock

The accident was attributed to faulty navigation by the captain who had confused Cape Schanck Lighthouse for the Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet. A lifeboat was quickly launched after striking the reef, but it capsized and one of the four occupants drowned. Those remaining finally reached the beach exhausted.

Little of the Speke was salvaged and heavy seas battered the wreck for several days until it broke in two and rapidly disintegrated. Wreckage from the Speke, including part of the bow, still lies high on the rocks, and more debris lies scattered along the edge of the reef in shallow water. The compass box, part of the figurehead and other items from the ship are now in the Cowes Historical Museum (Thompson Ave, Cowes) while the ship’s bell is at the Uniting Church (Chapel St, Cowes). Read more here

Phillip-Island-Tourist-MapThe SS Speke is a hidden gem and I would never have found it if not for some fellow photographers, it is not well marked at all and quite difficult to get to. Once parked at Kitty Miller Bay (end of Kitty Miller Road) head down the stairs to the beach. Walk along the left hand side of the Bay towards rocks. About half way along the bay (before the area where the rocks stick out) take the path up the slope track to the top. Be careful it is steep, sometimes slippery and resembles more of an animal track than anything. Once you get to the top, there is a good look out point over the bay before continuing along the cliff top to the wreck itself. The descent to the wreck is slippery and extremely dangerous, so be careful – I myself stayed at a distance and took photos from up top.

There really isn’t all that much left of SS Speke, but it is fascinating to see, I also dragged along the tripod and took some long exposures shots. We then wandered around the rock pools and Moth fund several crabs; too small to eat, but great for photos. [Maps care of Google Images].

If you would like to read previous post on the Lighthouse at Cape Schanck, read here. Until next time, happy snapping

– Julz