The Shipwrecked Coast

There’s a reason why they call it Great. The coastline of Victoria is stunning.

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It’s sandy and beautiful.

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There are dramatic cliffs.

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Fantastic rock formations.

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The further south you go it’s also dangerous. Submerged rocks and tricky currents earned this stretch of the coast the nickname of the Shipwrecked Coast. At least 638 shipwrecks have occurred along here, most of them in the 1800s and early 1900s.

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Flagstaff Hill Museum in Warnambool has details of the most dramatic shipwrecks, including the Minton Peacock and other artefacts rescued from the deep. The living museum was quiet on a week day in winter. We managed to visit during a sunny spell (honestly, these pictures don’t show the real story of our rainy trip). There wasn’t a lot of activity but there also weren’t many visitors. We wandered through the peaceful reconstructed small town, learnt a little about life in a port town in 1800s Victoria, what the flag signals to ships meant, such as a blue cross on a white background to signal ‘stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals’ (that’s maritime speak for ‘listen to me!’) and climbed the hill to barracks and lighthouses.

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At night, a lantern baring gentleman will lead you along the cobblestone streets to the lake where there’s a sound and laser show, simulating the wreck of the Loch Ard, one of the most famous ships wrecks of the area. It was a really interesting show, with water cascading down the outdoor theatre overhang and holograms appearing above the lake. Our bench seats shuddered as the holograms were pitched about on their ship, trying to navigate the stormy seas, valiantly trying to thread the needle and reach the safety of the harbour. They failed. Only two of the 37 passengers and 17 crew made it to shore. The survival of apprentice Tom Pearce and the rescue of passenger Eva Carmichael are some of the most dramatic and exciting parts of the story. Some parts of the rescue were glossed over in favour of honouring the Minton Peacock but it was still an enjoyable way to spend an evening.

Also, it didn’t rain.

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