Santiago large final
Santiago large final

Explore SA’s shipwreck trails

23 Feb. 2017 3 min read

Uncover SA’s rich but often tragic maritime history. And make sure you bring your camera – you could win a prize.

South Australia is home to more than 800 known shipwrecks, including 270 that have been entered on the SA Heritage Register.

Some are well known, like the Star of Greece off Port Willunga and the Zanoni off Ardrossan, but the less known are often no less interesting.

Nine maritime heritage trails have been established at wreck hotspots around the state, featuring signs that describe the ships and the circumstances under which they were lost.

The Southern Ocean Shipwreck Trail, which covers the stretch of coast between the Murray Mouth and the Victorian border, has 101 wrecks that claimed 218 lives, including the wreck of the Admella, which killed 89 people in 1859 and remains the state’s worst maritime disaster.

Other shipwreck trails have been established on Kangaroo Island, where more than 80 ships have been lost since 1836, and on the River Murray.

If you are fascinated by wrecks and diving isn’t your thing, don’t despair – not all the state’s wrecks are under water.

The wreck of the Ethel in Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is an excellent example, remaining on the beach where she was wrecked when the salvage bid failed. For part of the year, the wreck can be almost completely hidden by the surrounding sand, but winter storms periodically uncover it.

Ships’ graveyards are another great option for land-based wreck viewing. Over the years, 70 ships have been purposely abandoned in 19 graveyards around the state.

While some were scuttled and now lie on the seabed for divers to visit, more than half of the graveyard wrecks are uncovered by the tide for at least part of each day.

Port Adelaide has the largest concentration of abandoned ships with 40 wrecks in five sites including the Garden Island Ships’ Graveyard, which can be toured by kayak.

Two of the most intact wrecks in Port Adelaide are the Excelsior at Mutton Cove, which can be seen from land, and the Santiago at Garden Island, which is best viewed from the river.

In the South East, in the coastal town of Carpenter Rocks, the wreck of the 1875-built ketch the Hawthorn lies in the shallows just metres from the beach car park.

Snap a wreck, win a prize

Take the camera along when you’re exploring the shipwreck trails and you could go into the running for a $450 heritage accommodation voucher to use in SA’s national parks.

The Sea Pixels Photo Competition is open to photos and video footage of shipwrecks and other maritime heritage sites in SA.

There are seven categories to enter into, including shipwrecks under water, wrecks on land, video of a wreck, wildlife and maritime heritage, and people and maritime heritage.

Entries close at 5pm on 7 April 2017.

For more information on the competition, including how to enter, visit the Sea Pixels website.

Want to know more about shipwrecks? Check out this information onSA’s maritime heritage, which includes the location of ships’ graveyards.

This story was originally posted in June 2016.


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