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Published February 6th 2018
Tracing the relics of disaster
The Star of Greece shipwreck was one of South Australia's worst shipping disasters. This wreck and the events surrounding it still capture the imaginations of South Australians. The Star of Greece was an iron sailing vessel, a streamlined, elegant beauty richly ornamented with brass fittings that carried cargo from the United Kingdom to India, and finally to South Australia. After the wreck in 1888, many of the fittings and fixtures were sold. Later, more was recovered by divers. For the full story, click here. See different artefacts and information on the ship and the events that caused the wreck both south of Adelaide (Feurieu Peninsula) and north (Port Adelaide & Semaphore). Just follow this trail!
Going South: The Fleurieu Pensinula – Aldinga and Willunga
The Star of Greece ran aground at Port Willunga. It lies about 200 metres from the shore, about half a kilometre to the north of the car park. Divers and snorkellers are welcome to dive on the wreck but taking relics from the site or disturbing the physical fabric of the wreck is forbidden under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. What you will see on the wreck will depend on the conditions of the day. At very low tide, the bow is visible from shore. At the car park, there is an interpretative sign (facing the wrong direction) and a marble plaque.
Star of Greece wreck: State Library of South Australia - B12106 - Painter -- G.F. Gregory
2. Aldinga Library — A spar from the ship Located next to Aldinga Shopping Centre at 11 Central Way, Aldinga Beach. The Aldinga Library features a spar from the Star of Greece. Spars were horizontal poles used to carry the sails. This dominating piece of timber is often confused with the mast, the vertical pole that supported both sails and spars. Check opening hours here.
3. Aldinga Uniting Cemetery — Remembering the dead 2 Old Coach Road, Aldinga Take a moment to pause at the monument in this cemetery, commemorating the loss of lives on the wreck. The captain of the Star of Greece and ten of the crew are buried here. They lived the last hours of their lives in terror before drowning in the turbulent seas.
4. Willunga Courthouse and Slate Museums 61 High Street, Willunga
The Willunga Courthouse houses a collection of Star of Greece artefacts, including a rare brass compass binnacle in the shape of a seahorse. While you are there, you can also see how slate shaped the area, and other exhibitions on 19th century life. See opening hours here
Relics from Star of Greece at Willunga Courthouse Museum
The Willunga Courthouse is managed by the Willunga Branch of the National Trust, and Star of Greece walks are available for groups of 10 or more.
5. South Australian Maritime Museum 126 Lipson Street, Port Adelaide, 5015
The permanent Wrecked! Tragedy and the Southern Seas exhibition includes artefacts and information from the Star of Greece, including the stunning figurehead. Stay a while and experience an amazing museum.
6. Sea Captains' memorial at Semaphore
The Sea Captains' Memorial of Semaphore is dedicated to sea captains, officers and crew of sailing ships in the second half of the nineteenth century. The memorial consists of a plaque, and an anchor that came from the Star of Greece. Although there is no mention of the Star of Greece at the memorial, the provenance of the anchor can be traced back to William Russell, Port Adelaide ships' chandler, who bought the Star of Greece anchors after the wreck.
Star of Greece anchor: Image -- Geoff Wooldridge
2018 marks the 130th anniversary of the Star of Greece shipwreck. This is a great opportunity to find out more about this iconic ship and the tragedy that surrounds it.