There are 2 stories I’d like to share with you, both true, one current (our meeting with Margaret) and the other historic, the wreck of the Loch Ard.
THE WRECK OF THE LOCH ARD
The other story, The Wreck of the Loch Ard, took place on a wild and wonderful part of The Great Ocean Road. We followed the story unfold on a gray, windy and overcast day. The crashing surf and spray made a most realistic backdrop to events that happened on that terrible night in 1878. After three months at sea the 54 people aboard the boat had just celebrated the successful voyage, anticipating their imminent arrival at Apollo Bay. Because of heavy fog and unreliable instruments when the haze lifted on the morning of June 1 the watchman cried, ”Breakers ahead.” Desperate measures to anchor and turn course were unsuccessful and the iron-hulled three-masted ship crashed onto the rocks just offshore. People and goods were swept into the icy sea as the ship broke up against the rocks. We looked down into the blowhole, fed by a 100 meter tunnel, to where 11 bodies were swept but couldn’t be recovered because of the crashing surf.
Tom Pearce, a crewmember, clinging to an upturned lifeboat, was washed the following morning into what is now called Loch Ard Gorge. Although totally exhausted, when he heard the cries of someone in the water he went back into the cold and stormy sea and battled for over an hour to bring Eva Carmichael, who couldn’t swim, safely to the shore. He gave her some brandy that had been washed ashore and then had to climb out of the gorge and went to seek help. When Eitan and I walked down the steep wooden steps to the beach we couldn’t imagine how anybody, even in a fit state could have found a way up those sheer cliffs. Tom did bring help and Eva was saved. They were the only two to survive the wreck.
Tom was honored for his act of bravery and eventually became a ship’s captain. When Eva recovered she returned to Ireland and married. They never saw each other again. No Hollywood movie would be made from this sad story.
Click here to return to Australia (South Australia and Victoria)
Click here to read about our meeting with Margaret