Emily Smith Shipwreck

Emily Smith; Brigantine; 136 tons; 27x5.9x3.7 m.; Owned by J. Hart & W. M. Hamilton; Built at J. O. Smith in 1849. Registered at Port Adelaide. On 15 May 1877, Emily Smith with 16 passengers and a crew of 10, was lost. 22 died. http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?52462

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), Saturday 3 June 1899, page 45



Mr. George Snelling, an old and respected resident of Brownlow, Kangaroo Island, recently gave a representative of "The Observer" an interesting account of experiences which he has undergone on Kangaroo Island. He said-:—"The accounts of the wreck of the Loch Sloy which have been published, have revived in my mind experiences which I had twenty-two years ago this month, when the Emily Smith went ashore on the south coast of Kangaroo Island, not far from the scene of the latest disaster. There is a striking similarity between the incidents of both catastrophes. News came through to Kingscote from Cape Borda that three Malays had arrived at the station with the information that the brig Emily Smith had been wrecked at the Brothers Islands, and that all hands had been lost with the exception of five, who had got ashore on a spar after a terrible struggle. They had left the stewardess and one of their mates in the bush between the wreck and Cape Borda, and themselves had wandered about the scrub for days without food. I received orders from the late Mr. Commissioner Peterwald to proceed to the scene of the wreck at once, and to search for the missing ones. I made all necessary arrangements, and started out with J. Dench, one of the smartest bushmen of the day. We picked up a lad at Hawke's Nest to take the horses back, and camped for the night at the Eleanor. Next day we parted with our horses at the South-West River, shouldered our heavy swags, and tramped the rest of the distance in heavy rain. We reached Remarkable Rock after dark, and rolled ourselves up in our wet blankets, and found it remarkably cold. However, the sun rose bright and clear next morning, which was a Thursday, and we made an early start, leaving the swags at Remarkable Rock. We expected to find the wreck within five miles of the Rock, and we intended to camp there again, as that was the only place within miles where fresh water could be obtained. We searched the coast, round to the Brothers, but found no sign of the wreck, and so we pushed on a few miles further without result. I then returned for our swags, and having refreshed ourselves we continued the search until dark. That night we camped on top of the cliffs, with not so much as a bush to shelter us. At about 2 o'clock in the morning rain set in, and a high wind blew from the north. There was no sleep for us. Everything was wet, we could get no fire, and things were just about as bad as they could be. At daylight we resumed the search without any breakfast. We walked along the top of the cliffs, and had not gone move than a mile when we came to the first sign of the wreck in the shape of part of a woman's dress. More wreckage was to be seen over the cliffs, but we could not get down, so went on a little further, and found the place where the survivors had landed. The cliffs presented a unique and striking appearance, being covered from top to bottom with wool, which had formed part of the vessel's cargo. We followed the tracks of five persons into the thick scrub, and lost them. Then we returned to the wreck, and were lucky enough to find a tin of meat, for we were just about out of food. A terrible storm was raging, and prevented us from getting to the bottom of the cliffs to look for bodies, so we made up our minds to make for the Borda. We started towards the Rocky in drenching rain, and searched through the sandhills at the back of the long beach without finding a trace of the lost ones. At last we came to the Rocky River, and took shelter from the rain in a cave. It contained some dry wood, and with the help of an old tinder-box we lit a fire, and tasted food for the first time since the previous day. The river was in flood and impassable, so we made further search until dark, and then returned to the cave to sleep in our wet clothes. Things began to look very bad for us. We were thirty miles from the nearest settler, and had only one day's food. Next day we found that the river had risen during the night, higher than ever, so we decided to make back to Remarkable Rock. The day was fine, but the tramp over those terrible sandhills and limestone was some thing out of the common. Through being wet so long our feet were sore, and we could scarcely walk. I can imagine the hardships which Mitchell, of the Loch Sloy, especially underwent. We reached Remarkable Rock at sundown, made a billy of tea, and had some damper. All that was left for the next day was a pint of flour and a pound of bacon. Half of that was consumed at breakfast. We set out early next morning, and it rained the whole day. We had twenty-seven miles to tramp, for dinner had raw bacon without tea, and got to Mr. R. Chapman's place that night. Next day we reached Kingscote. A few days later, I and Messrs. Dench, Chapman, and T. Northcote received orders to return to the wreck. We did so, and buried the bodies of two women which had come ashore near the scene of the wreck of the Lock Sloy. One of them we interred in a long cave, the month of which we blocked up, and I am not certain whether it is the same one where some of the late searchers made their camping place at night. The other body was so much battered that it could not be removed from where it came up from the sea. We returned without doing anything more. Six months later the dead body of the Malay who went into the bush was found up the creek at West Bay, a few miles from the wreck. Messrs. Chapman and W. Thompson and myself went down and buried the body where we found it against an old chimney. Like McMillan did at South-West River, the poor Malay reached an empty place. The remains of the stewardess have never been found to this day. The Emily Smith overran her distance, and twenty-seven lives were lost. The survivors did not reach the Borda until eight or ten days after the wreck occurred. The weather was heavy at the time, and the masts were carried away, one passenger being killed on the spot.

"When the You Yangs was wrecked in 1889 I belonged to the Queenscliffe lifesaving crew, and went out to Cape Gantheaume with Trooper F. Withall and Mr. J. Melville. The last-named was in advance, and he met seven of the boat's crew coming through the bush to Queenscliffe. I took part in the subsequent operations on the beach. Previous to the wreck of the Emily Smith I had an experience at Snelling's Beach, named after my father, on the north coast of Kangaroo Island. Some men belonging to the cutter Secret were coming ashore in rough weather when their boat upended in the surf. Two of the men came to land safely, but as the boat turned over I saw that the skipper, Mr. A. Monro, was jammed under the thwart ill the bows. I swam out to him and rescued him from his unenviable position in the nick of time. He died a few years ago at Yankalilla."

KANGAROO ISLAND WRECKS. (1899, June 3). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 45. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162339080

See also

WRECK OF THE BRIG EMILY SMITH (1877, June 22). The Western Australian Times (Perth, WA : 1874 - 1879), p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2977727