There are many shipwrecks scattered along the length of the Great Ocean Road where over 200 ships have met their fate along the rugged coastline. During the 19th century large numbers of ships were trading and bringing convicts and settlers to Victoria. The vessels were mostly wooden and fairly small and relied on the strong trade winds to catch their sails and the stars to guide them; charts and maps were often incomplete and inaccurate. The shipwrecks were mostly caused by a combination of strong winds blowing the ships off course and into uncharted or dangerous waters, some were human error. A lack of lighthouses meant there was little warning of reefs, rocky outcrops or small islands. A series of inquiries in the mid-1800s led to the construction of lighthouses. The stretch between Point Danger and Barwon Heads contains shallow reefs that extend about 2 km offshore and this expanse has had a number of shipwrecks. Four ships were wrecked in the vicinity of Point Impossible and Breamlea; Lucy Lee (1868), Victoria Tower (1869), Foam (1880)and Bancoora (1891). Two wrecks the Inverlochy (1902) and the Naiad (1881) are within the Point Addis Marine National Park. The most well-known wreck is the SS Joseph H Scammell that came aground on dusk off Point Danger in 1891. The passengers and crew spent a terrifying night before all were recused the following morning. The wreck created a wave of unprecedented smuggling and pilfering; the entire cargo was valued at over £67,000. When the ship broke up the deck house was washed ashore at Torquay and was purchased by William Pride for a holiday house that still stands at 24 Pride St Torquay.

SS Joseph J Scammell aground at Point Danger 1891
Courtesy Museums Victoria
Scammell House
By John T Collins 1907-2001, photographer. State Library of Victoria
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