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Foul weather, high waves and thick fog made it difficult for the captain to see major landmarks or the Cape Otway lighthouse.


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When the fog lifted the captain realised he was too close to shore, headed straight for Mutton Bird Island. He tried to take evasive action but ran the ship onto a reef hidden beneath the water around the island.

The crash brought down the masts, crushing passengers who had made their way on deck and making it difficult to launch lifeboats. The ship sank within about 15 minutes.

The Fascinating History of the Loch Ard Gorge

As the only survivors Eva Carmichael and Pearce became celebrities, their story recounted in newspapers around the world. The public in Australia took up collections for both and people inundated them with telegrams imploring the pair to marry. Carmichael would later reveal that Pearce had asked her, but she thought that since she was from a wealthy family and he was a maritime man they had little in common and politely turned him down. He was involved in another sinking aboard the Loch Sunart in He married, reached the rank of Captain before retiring from the sea and dying at home in Southhampton in The couple later returned to live in Ireland where she and her husband lived on another coastline prone to shipwrecks and were often called to tend the victims.

Loch Ard Gorge, a tragic story

According to one story Pearce and Carmichael then Mrs Townsend met again when his ship was wrecked near her home. The Loch Ard was rediscovered by divers in and the wreck plundered by treasure hunters until the government stepped in to protect the remains. Personalise your weather. Sorry we couldn't find a match for that, please try again.

The Fascinating History of the Loch Ard Gorge

Change my location. My Account Logout. Only two would survive — ship cadet Tom Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael. Today in History. X No thanks, continue reading article.


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  • The ship, which was bound for Melbourne via Liverpool, struck rocks near the opening of a gorge, and only two out of 52 people on board survived the wreck. The survivors, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael, were swept into the gorge where they took refuge in a cave. The incident was well publicised, and the site soon became a tourist attraction.

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    Steps for visitors were cut down to the gorge in Only four bodies were recovered - those of Mrs. These were placed in coffins made from timber washed up in Loch Ard Gorge and buried in this cemetery. A cross of spars from the wreckage was erected over the graves and this was later replaced with headstones.

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