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Jervois Basin Ships' Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail

Between the early 1900s and the late 1960s the mudflats at Jervois Basin was Port Adelaide’s main ship-breaking area and witnessed the demise of countless vessels that were no longer useful.

Across the river was ‘Rotten Row,’ so-named because of the derelict craft that lined the wharves waiting their turn for salvage and a final trip across the river to this muddy shore.

Most vessels in the basin were completely dismantled, with agreements that the sites would be entirely cleared. Two notable vessels that ended up this way were the iron ship Loch Tay (1961) and the Gulf steamer Karatta (1962).

Today, high tides and flourishing mangroves hide the wooden planking and rusting remains of just a few of the barques and ketches, pontoons, tugs and steamers that were broken up on this mudflat.

The Jervois Basin Ships’ Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail was established to showcase some of the remnants of vessels that ended their days on these mudflats.

Alert (1872-1960)

Alert - Jervois Basin  

Location: -34.8499°S 138.4968°E

Vessel type: wooden ketch

Alert was built in Hobart in 1872. For nearly 90 years Alert worked the South Australian coastal trade under a succession of owners. In 1960 the ketch was moved from where it lay derelict near the Jervois Bridge to the Ethelton Log Pool at Jervois Basin. There it was gradually broken up and eventually burnt to the waterline.

Download the fact sheet for more information.

Trafalgar (1877-c1947)

Trafalgar - Jervois Basin  

Location: -34.8501°S 138.4972°E

Vessel type: dumb barge (formerly a composite paddle steamer)

Trafalgar was built in Echuca, Victoria, in 1877. It operated originally on the Wentworth trade but later operated as a passenger vessel between Echuca and Mildura. In 1933 it was converted to a dumb barge and, in 1947, an attempt was made to convert it to a ketch. It proved unsuitable for conversion so was abandoned at Ethelton Log Pool and partially broken up.

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Fides (1918-c1932)

Fides - Jervois Basin  

Location: -34. 8485°S 138.4966°E

Vessel type: 4-masted wooden schooner

Fides was built in Risor, Norway, in 1918. The vessel arrived in Port Adelaide in 1928 but lay idle for 4 years. After failed attempts to re-purpose the vessel, in 1932 it was seized for non-payment of harbour dues and partially broken up over some time first at Commercial Wharf and later at Portland Canal. It was then beached at Ethelton and scrapping continued. Today the remains are partially covered by reclaimed land.

Download the fact sheet for more information.

Fitzjames (1852-c1891)

Fitzjames - Jervois Basin  

Location: -34.848178°S 138.496643°E

Vessel type: timber hulk (formerly a 3-masted ship)

Fitzjames was built in Richibucto, Canada, in 1852 and became part of the White Star Line trading the Atlantic and transporting emigrants to Australia. After springing a leak and being towed to Australia it was condemned and hulked in Melbourne. It then became a floating boy’s reformatory and some time after 1891 it was beached at the end of the Cable Company Wharf in Jervois Basin. The remains are believed to be covered by land reclamation.

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Alba (1867-1957)

[No image available]

Location: unknown

Vessel type: iron hulk (formerly a 3-masted barque)

Alba was built at Dundee, Scotland, in 1867. In about 1900 it was sold to the Adelaide Steam Ship Company for use as a hulk. In 1956-57 the hulk was purchased by Hines Metal Co. for scrapping. Records regarding the location are not conclusive and some state that it was in the North Arm while others state the Ethelton Log Pool. The Hines Metal Co. was responsible for scrapping a number of vessels in the Jervois Basin so it is likely that the remains occur there.

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Fish Market Pontoon

Fish Market Pontoon - Jervois Basin

Location: -34. 850305°S 138.497049°E

Vessel type: wooden pontoon

This is the remains of a pontoon that once serviced the Port Adelaide Fishing Fleet on the northeast side of the Jervois Bridge prior to their move to the North Arm. This was the former site of the Port Adelaide Fish Market. In about 1960 the pontoon was removed and abandoned on the Ethelton mud flats.

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Unnamed Pontoon

Unidentified Wooden Pontoon - Jervois Basin

Location: -34.850411°S 138.497874°E

Vessel type: wooden pontoon

An unidentified wooden pontoon lies in the south-eastern section of the Log Pool. Although its origin is unknown, fittings and other structure suggest that the pontoon was possibly a platform for one of the floating cranes that moved about the Port.

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