Beauty and Memories of Nature's Mystery at Loch Ard Gorge

By Christina Kim - August 10, 2015

Raging waves pushing their way towards the sandy white beaches, with their obvious white frothy tips perched on top are one but many scenes making up the landscape of the famed Great Ocean Drive.
The ocean and the waves are the dominant features set in the backdrop of this well-traveled road reputed for its majestic views.


From the foaming whites curled against the toes of the beach to the aggressive washing against the sharp edges of the cliffs, it was all fascinating and picturesque yet terrifying at the same time.

The violent moves of the waves as they rolled cumulatively towards the edge of the each; grabbing part of the sandy floors with it each time can be engaging to watch, and the sounds of the waves are often thought to clear one’s minds of worries.



The more ambitious waves make their way up the sharp edges of the cliffs; slyly slithering in their wet form and then brushing against the tips within their reach can often appear to be more than just an entertaining watch, especially when the waves appear to elevate in its height in each attempt; as though trying to slap a high five against the top of the cliffs but in a rather deceptive manner to engulf these parts of the rocks, taking a bit of them with it every time.

It is an activity which we call the erosion and caused many of the rock to be slightly deformed in most of their manner; though some were also termed as rock formations as these waves continue to pile them with each of their strong embrace on the shores.
Some of these have become famous attractions, landing themselves on the coast’s top scenic attraction thus pushing this part of the coastal area to worldwide attention.

While the natural process of these have formed the wonders dotting the coastline, the aggressive nature has also make this area incredibly terrifying and is one of the most dangerous parts of the sea, especially to the seafarers; and many tragedies of shipwreck has occurred along the coast where it is today known as the Shipwreck Coast.

The atrocity of the coasts have claimed many lives; leading many ships away from their intended destinations in their deceptive outlook amidst the cutting rocks fuelled with the thick fog enveloping the air as they meet with their fates and were left sinking to their watery graves.

One such ship is the Loch Ard; which was set to sail from the England in March 1878 to Melbourne, carrying with it 17 crew members and 37 passengers; a total of 54 on board as they embark on a three month journey.
Towards the end of their journey, they had a small celebration on board to mark their upcoming arrival at Port Philips Heads the next day and hastily made their preparations for the disembarkation.
Sadly, they never made it to see the sight of Melbourne as the ship never arrived.

The night before its due arrival at the port, there was a thick fog in the air which clouded the ship captain’s estimation of the forthcoming dangers waiting ahead.
When the fog lifted in the early hours of the morning, the captain realized too late the cliffs in its path though he immediately hurled the team into action to land their anchors and lower the masts to pull the ship to halt. However that action further propelled the heavy body of the ship forward as it treads on the corals beneath and slides even faster on its slick and slippery grounds.
The captain’s attempts to undo the damage was left futile as they tried to retrieve the anchors but the ship was already headed to its fate and it was not long before it hit against the rocky coast, amidst the screams and cries of the passengers and crew members fighting for their lives while the masts fell on the deck and the water just gushed on board, dragging them to their ends.
It was a terrible tragedy which claimed almost everyone’s lives as the ship wrecked at the Muttonbird Island.

Almost every single one.

There were two survivors from this shipwreck tragedy; Tom Pearce, 17, who was an apprentice and Eva Carmichael, 18, who was one of the ship’s passengers.
(Eva was one of the family of eight Irish immigrants onboard the ship).


Tom was washed up on shore as he was covered underneath one of the planks and as he was regaining his composure, he heard Eva’s cries for help from the sea and rushed back to rescue her.
They sought shelter from the nearby village where they also started a search and rescue mission to salvage the rest of the ship passengers and members.
Unfortunately, no one else was found to survive the shipwreck.

The place where Tom and Eva were found was an enclosed gorge area which is now known as the Loch Ard Gorge; as a tribute to the tragic incident and named after the fateful ship.


In the recent years, there were two rock pillars; remnants from the collapse of the nearby Island Archway in 2009 were named Tom and Eva, in memory of their survival from this heart breaking tragedy more than a century ago.
The two rock pillars are not connected in any way and are stand alones. 

Bass Strait is the watery stretch of the coast between Cape Otway and King Island; and has been described by many as an extremely dangerous area, for those making sea voyages.
This is a stretch for those on the Great Circle Route hailing from Britain where Cape Otway is the first sight of land on the months of sea journey.
It was the Cape Otway lighthouse that the Captain of Loch Ard; Captain George Gibb, was looking for that night before the ship wrecked, and it was not to be seen with the thick cloud of the fog falling over the ship’s view.

Captain Gibb, being the responsible man as the captain of the ship, had reason to worry and the great man even stayed up all night to catch any sight of the lighthouse to ensure the ship’s safety to her destination but it was to no avail as it was a game of hide-and-seek with the fog.
The honorable man had done all he could to maintain the safety of all onboard, but sadly tragedy was determined to strike the Loch Ard.
He is truly one to respect for his dedication and efforts.

Loch Ard Gorge is one of the first point, a short drive from Port Campbell Town, and the howling sounds of the waves along with the wails of the wind are just too terrifying, as I remember it while standing on the grounds of the area.
The scene was a splendid and awe-inspiring one though; and the grand scale reminds one of the great works of nature; enough to bring one to their humble knees as one stands before the surroundings of the gorge, walled by the rocky cliffs and greeted by the rolling waves towards the sandy beach.

At one of the lookout points of Loch Ard Gorge

It sends a chill down the spine as one stands right before the fearsome yet majestic sight, and also the cold of the wind does makes one shudder even more.

I was in awe; while taking in the natural sounds and sights depicted in this natural scene and reliving some of the scenarios from the tragedy (and maintaining my balance against the strong gust of wind in that tug-of-war as it constantly tugs to whisk me away).

It was a surreal experience.

Access to the beach via the wooden staircase 







Awe, fear and sadness make up my experience at Loch Ard Gorge for as beautiful as the natural wonders are, I could not help but shake nervously at the thought of the many who had perished in the combination of the violent currents of the water and the deceiving embrace of the aggressive waves; along with the strong winds and thick cloudy fogs.




I believe most were not as fortunate as the two survivors of Loch Ard;  Tom and Eva.

There is always beauty and also the mystery in nature and that is just how nature works.

Loch Ard Gorge is just an example of the memories left behind by the intertwining works of the mysteries of nature, beneath that amazing facade of beauty.



Panoramic view of Loch Ard Gorge

More information on Loch Ard Gorge tragedy can be found at The Flagstaff Maritime Museum in Warnambool.

This is not a sponsored post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. Experiences vary from one individual to another.

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