Wild weather exposes Ethel wreck at Innes

News article |

High tides and huge swells off the south-west coast of Yorke Peninsula have exposed the 111-year-old Ethel shipwreck on the beach, exciting sightseers and park rangers alike.

The Ethel, originally named Carmelo, was built in England in 1876 and became shipwrecked after being caught in a violent storm off the coast of Yorke Peninsula in 1904.

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Parkbusiness support officer Cath Cameron says high winds, massive tides and big swells have exposed the shipwreck and it is a sight to behold.

"I went down for a look last week and there was a massive tide and absolutely huge swell with some of the wave faces well over five metres, and as they broke, water was exploding out through the back of the wave," Ms Cameron said.

"It was Mother Nature at her most powerful and it has left a pretty spectacular sight with almost all of the sand siphoned out to sea and the bedrock of the reef exposed."

While it is extremely rare for the shipwreck to be so exposed and visible to visitors, it is in fact the fourth time in as many years that the ship has been exposed in this way.

The Ethel wreck is an icon of Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Parkand the story of its fate an interesting part of the state’s history.

The Ethel met its end as it sailed past Althorpe Island in 1904 en-route to Port Adelaide from South Africa, drifting onto the beach – now bearing its name - under strong winds.

"It struck reef as it rounded the Yorke Peninsula, damaging its rudder and leaving it unsteerable,’" Ms Cameron said.

"The crew became stranded and one crew member drowned trying to swim ashore.

"The S.S. Ferret notified a nearby lighthouse keeper of the stranding, and while they attempted to salvage the ship, the location of the beach and its steep cliffs made it impossible.

"The iron frame of the ship collapsed in 1985 and much of the remains are now normally covered by sand, so this exposure gives us a rare opportunity to view the wreck."

For more information about the Ethel wreck, as well as camping and heritage accommodation bookings at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, visit www.parks.sa.gov.au

Visitors to the region should be aware that shipwrecks in South Australia are protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976) and people are prohibited from interfering with the wreck.

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