Victorian Shipwrecks – Portland to Nelson

I thought I might split this last spot into two post; one for the Lighthouse and one for the Shipwrecks – there are a lot.

Nelson (SA Border)

I freely admit we did not go looking for these three, they are listed as not found and we had already visited so many spots, where nothing was found and there is nothing to see, but it would be remiss of me to not mention them, as they are the final three along this bit of the coast. The fact is that there is not alot of ANYTHING at Nelson, but the Cafe did make good coffee.

S.S. Perseverance 1890 – 1898 (not found) The S.S. Perseverance was wrecked on the sandbar at the mouth of the Glenelg River whilst attempting a voyage from Nelson to the river Murray in South Australia.

The Triumph 1840 – 1863 (not found) The Western Australian-built schooner The Triumph disappeared whilst on a voyage from Port MacDonnell to Port Adelaide. The remains of the vessel were later found cast ashore at Discovery Bay. There were no survivors.

John Ormerod 1826 – 1861 (not found) The English-built schooner John Ormerod came ashore east of the Glenelg River mouth, after having been blown over on to its side whilst off Cape Bridgewater. Only three of the crew survived.


Portland is one of the few natural deep water ports in Australia. Bass Strait sealers are thought to have used it as a base well before the 1820s when it became an established whaling station. Since then, with the growth of a prosperous hinterland and fishing industries, the arrival of goldseekers, immigration and, more recently, manufacturing developments, Portland has become a thriving city. Before the construction of the breakwaters and deepwater moorings, Portland Bay was a trap for vessels at anchor. Strong south-easterly gales often caught them unprepared and drove them ashore. There are 17 shipwrecks in Portland Bay. These vessels carried immigrants and all manner of cargoes, including timber, whaling products, potatoes, clothing, alcohol and pianos. Most have never been located.

Henry 1827 – 1834 (not found) The small schooner Henry became the first recorded shipwreck in Portland Bay when it was forced ashore while loading whale oil in August 1834.

New Zealander 1852 – 1853 The immigrant ship New Zealander had discharged its 465 passengers and was undergoing repairs when it caught fire. The remains of the wreck can still be seen in the water below the Lighthouse Reserve.

Lady Robilliard 1845 – 1867 (not found) The Lady Robilliard was on a voyage from Port Adelaide to Portland when a south-easterly gale drove it ashore near Whalers Bluff.

Argo 1867 – 1883 (not found) The 17-ton wooden cutter Argo, built in Port Fairy, was wrecked on Portland beach during a south-easterly gale on 31 December 1883.

Margaret and Agnes 1850 – 1852 (not found) The Victorian-built schooner Margaret and Agnes had just arrived at Portland Bay from Port Fairy with a cargo of potatoes, flour and bran, when it was blown ashore.

Mary Jane 1846 – 1852 (not found) Following the wreck of the Canadian-built brigantine, Mary Jane and the stranding of the schooner Brothers in May 1852, the Portland Guardian criticized the vessels’ captains for anchoring too close to shore, and called on the Colonial Government to appoint a harbour master at Portland.

Tui 1868 – 1883 (not found) The 18-ton cutter Tui, built at Port Fairy in 1868, was reported wrecked at Portland following a south-easterly gale in 1883.

Nestor 1840-1854 (not found) The immigrant ship Nestor was lost due to foul play. After the wreck, divers discovered three holes bored in the hull. The master was later arrested and charged with scuttling his ship, but charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Australasia 1847 – 1855 (not found) Australasia and Constant were both driven ashore during a severe gale in March 1855. The Australasia was sold to the Henty brothers, who made a small fortune by salvaging the cargo of wool.

Constant 1843 – 1855 (not found) The Constant had just discharged its 229 immigrants before being blown ashore during a storm, possibly because of poor anchors.

Regia 1835 – 1860 The remains of the Indian-built barque Regia, grounded during a severe gale, can still be seen lying in two metres of water next to the reclaimed land on the Portland foreshore.

Tamora 1853-1860 (not found) The wooden barque Temora blew ashore in a gale while unloading cargo. Portland police charged some people with theft from the vessel, including the master of the schooner Eva, which was wrecked in the same gale.

Elizabeth 1837 – 1844 (not found) The Tasmanian-built schooner Elizabeth and another schooner, Sally Ann, were driven ashore during a south-easterly gale in Portland Bay in mid-November 1844.

Elizabeth 1838 – 1846 (not found) The Canadian-built brig Elizabeth was totally wrecked on the beach directly below the Portland town site during a south-easterly gale in November 1846.

Henry 1853 (not found) According to some sources, the two-masted schooner Henry, built specifically to trade between Melbourne and Portland, went ashore during a gale at Portland in September 1853 and became a total wreck.

Sally Ann 1826 – 1844 (not found) The Bermudan-built schooner Sally Ann, owned by Stephen Henty, was a regular visitor to Portland. She was driven ashore in a south-easterly gale in mid November 1844, along with the schooner Elizabeth.

Merope’s boat 1839 (not found) One of the earliest recorded wrecks in Portland Bay was that of a small boat from the barque Merope. It struck a reef while the crew was hunting whales off Lawrence Rocks in May 1839. Furthermore the actual vessel Merope came to grief not far away in 1853, after striking a reef east of the Fitzroy River mouth. The Indian-built sailing ship Merope had also survived a stranding in Western Australia. Oops not a good safety record on this one.


This last image was taken late evening on the edge of Whaler’s Bluff overlooking the Port of Portland. Which is where I will finish off my Posts of Lighthouses along the Victorian coast.