Wreck of the Ethel

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2020 at 15:15

Stephen L (Clare) SA

In 1876 the 711 tonne, 3 masted Iron Barque was built by S.P.Austin & Hunter in Sutherland, England and was Christened the Carmelo. During its short sailing life, the ship had changed hands a few time and was later to be known as the Ethel.

The last registered owner was Acties Bark Ethel (S.A. Sande) of Norway and during its fateful voyage from South Africa on route to Port Adelaide in late 1903, it entered Investigator Straight during servere storms, which forced the Ethel off course and with poor visibility, passed too close to Cape Spencer and on the 2nd January 1904 and struck a reef and sustained serious damage to its rudder and was finally beached in what today is know as Ethel Beach.

In a bid to get help, one of the crew attempted to swim to shore with a rescue line and was drowned while doing so. Stranded on the beach, there was no way to refloat the vestle and in an attempt to try and cover money, the wreck was sold by auction to Mr A Hasell, manager of the Marion Bay Gypsum Co for 100 pounds.

Over time the forces of nuture have taken its toll and today all that remains are the rusted sections of the hull.

I was fortuate to see the Ethel hull nearly fully intact in the early 1970's when the only way to get down to the beach was very carefull footings and bum sliding. in the mid 1980's servere storms finally collaped the remaining hull structure, resulting in the bare skelleton that can be seen today.

Modern day visitors to the wreck site now have a step structure to safely get down top Ethel Beach. If you are ever down at the bottom of the Yorke Peninsula, a visit to the Ethel wreck is well worth a visit.

The images of the old Ethel are with permission from the South Australian Maritime Museum and the State Libray of South Australia.
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