On Friday the 13th of July 1888, clipper ship Star of Greece ran aground approximately 200 metres from Port Willunga's shores. The raging seas at that time made it very difficult for onlookers to help those stricken sailors and tragically eighteen men lost their lives. Today, you can learn more about this disastrous shipwreck at various locations both north and south of Adelaide.
The remains of the clipper ship lie in five metres of water off the popular soft sandy beach of Port Willunga on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Part of the structure is sometimes visible from shore at low tide, but you'll need to know what you're looking for though. It wasn't until my second time that I actually spotted the remains, and that was with some help as well. You are also welcome to dive on the wreck so long as nothing is taken or disturbed. An interpretive sign and two plaques commemorating the disaster are located within the vicinity of the car park.
Ruins of Harbour Master's Cottage and Martin Farm
Slightly further inland, you will find the ruins of Harbour Master's Cottage and Martin Farm. Although the wreck was sighted by daybreak, former harbour master Thomas Martin could not contact authorities in Adelaide until 9am when the Willunga telegraph station opened. Rescue equipment however only arrived later in the afternoon and by then it was too late.
Former Sea View Hotel
Home where bodies were placed
Those who managed to make it to shore were taken by local residents to the Sea View Hotel, among other places, to recuperate. The building, though no longer a hotel today, can still be seen along Port Road. Bodies of those who had died were placed in a home just up the road less than 100 metres from the hotel. This home is a private residence, but we were fortunate that the owner was able to show us around inside during our guided walk with the National Trust Willunga Branch.
Among the dead was Captain H R Harrower. At 29 years of age, this was his third year as captain of a vessel and his first visit to Adelaide. He and ten of his crew were buried at the Aldinga Uniting Cemetery on Old Coach Road.
Courthouse Museum with Star of Greece exhibition
A collection of artefacts from the clipper ship is housed in the Courthouse Museum at Willunga. These include a rare binnacle support, fire bucket, dingy bow-fender, decorative nut cover, ornamental trim and porthole cover. You can also find a spar at the Aldinga Library, an anchor at the Sea Captains' Memorial in Semaphore, and other stunning artefacts at the South Australian Maritime Museum in Port Adelaide.