Celebrating South Australia


15 May 1877 Wreck of the Emily Smith

 15 May 1877   Wreck of the Emily Smith

One of the worst of Kangaroo Island's many shipwrecks occurred in the early hours of 15 May 1877 when the brig Emily Smith crashed on to rocks near Cape du Couedic. The ship, believed to be carrying 25 passengers and 14 crew, was on a voyage from Albany, Western Australia to Port Adelaide.

The weather was bad for the twelve days the ship took to cross the Bight with visibility very poor. In a south-westerly gale the ship was blown on to submerged rocks, lifted clear and flung down again, where it capsized and sank. Most of her complement were trapped below decks, but miraculously five men and a woman, clinging to wreckage, managed to get ashore. From there they began a nightmare journey along the coast seeking help.

After six hours the woman and a youth fell exhausted. Four days later three wan, bedraggled Asiatic sailors reached Cape Borda Lighthouse. The search party observed bodies in the sea from the cliffs, but the three who expired on the walk were not found until many years later when a skeleton was discovered near an abandoned homestead.

The Adelaide Chronicle , 2 October 1947, Newspaper Cuttings Book, Volume 3, p. 8.