Of all the famous and tragic shipwrecks in Australia and Victoria, the Lord Ard (1878) is the most significant. Transporting a number of household and luxury commercial goods from the UK and 54 passengers and crew members, the Lord Ard departed from Gravesend, London March 1 in 1878 headed to Melbourne. Just a few days away from reaching its destination, the Lord Ard moved into the Bass Strait and Captain Gibb was awaiting the Cape Otway light flash. With sea mist and fog clouding their view, the breakers and cliffs were sighted just ahead on June 1 of 1878. Efforts to change course were unsuccessful and despite an attempt to turn the bow back out to sea, the Lord Ard crashed into Mutton Bird Island and sank shortly thereafter, leaving only two survivors, both 18 years of age, crewman Tom Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael.
Local consortium from Geelong, Howarth, Miller and Matthews performed contemporary salvage on site after the wreck and a number of items drifted to shore, among some of the salvaged goods being the well-known Minton Potters’ Loch Ard Peacock (currently stored in Warrnambool in the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum).
The Lord Ard sits at the base of Mutton Island in nearly 30 m of water, near Port Campbell and in the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park. Artefacts are being displayed by the Glenample Homstead, the Flagstaff Maritime Museum and the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre. A number of items are also being held at Heritage Victoria’s Conservation Laboraory and others are being cared for by private custodians.
It is extraordinarily hard to dive this site due to the treacherous and dynamic conditions of the Shipwreck Coast. Divers who are patient will enjoy an incredible shipwreck experience should the weather prove favourable. Loch Ard Gorge is a must stop on your Great Ocean Road Holiday.