Goulburn Shipwreck


On Wednesday last week, at Port Elliot, Mr. MacDermott, J.P., took the depositions of the captain, mate, and engineer of the steamer Melbourne, relative to the loss of the barge Goulburn and the unfortunate men composing her crew. From the statements made by the Melbourne's officers it would appear that every possible exertion was vainly used for the preservation of life and property, and that the steamer did not resume her voyage till every chance of her rendering any service was at an end.

We subjoin the depositions, as also the Harbour-Master's official report to the Governor-in-Chief, which has been obligingly forwarded to us. Captain Douglas simply repeats what has been reported to him by the master of the Breeze, upon the information of two persons who witnessed the accident from Hog Bay, at a distance, as they suppose, of three miles:—

"Examination of Captain Robert Ross, of the steamer Melbourne, relative to the loss of the barge Goulburn, before M. MacDermott, Esq., J.P.

" Left Port Adelaide about 2 p.m. on Saturday, the 28th June, having the barge Goulburn in tow; the crew of the barge consisting of the master, two men, and a boy. The barge at this time was attached to the steamer, with a five-inch tow rope nearly new, and about 50 fathoms long. About 4 p.m. reached the Lightship. Light air of wind from the northward, and smooth water. Made fast the barge with two additional new tow-ropes of four inches each. Landed Captain Wellsman and Mr. Allsop at the Semaphore, and proceeded on the voyage to Port Elliot. Whilst going down the harbour the barge's crew were employed cleaning up the decks, lashing the boat and furniture belonging to her. The cargo of the barge consisted of from eight to ten tons weight altogether, principally plank and timber. The hatches were put on, and the tarpaulins over them before dark, which was seen from the steamer. Was on deck of the steamer himself all the voyage from leaving Port Adelaide until arrival at Port Elliot. The weather continued fine and moderate until 1 a.m. of the 29th. Until that time steered S.S.W., then steered south, supposing myself off the N.W. Bluff. Continued this course until 2 a.m., and not seeing Cape Jervis as expected, went on the same course for another hour, having at that time, say 3 p.m, a strong breeze from the south. Had hailed the barge frequently during the night, requesting them to attend to their steering. At this time saw the land on the starboard bow; concluded it was Kangaroo Island, and hauled up to a N.E. course. After towing in this direction for half an hour, the bargeman called out the barge was making water. There did not appear to be any water gone over her to hurt her. The steamer was shipping a little water forward, but not of much consequence. Asked the bargeman to tell me where the barge was making water, but could not hear his reply. Hauled the steamer head to wind and slowed the engines, and went so until about 5 or half past 5 a.m. When daylight began to break I saw that the barge was down in the water forward a good deal. Put on full steam to try to get her under the land about Cape Jervis, distant about 8 or 10 miles. The breeze had now increased a good deal from the northward, with a heavy sea. The barge took a sheer across the stern and parted the two four-inch tow-ropes. A good many seas went over her this time. The bargemen were pumping the second compartment. The remaining tow-rope then parted. The sea then made a clean breach right over her, and she seemed to be about two feet above water forward, with her stern cocked up as though there was no water in her abaft. After the sea struck her she seemed to settle in the water more. Then tried to get near her with the steamer, but could not manage it, the sea was so heavy. This was about 7 a.m. She continued to settle forward, and the fore part of the deck for fifteen or twenty feet was under water, with the after end still cocked up as if there was no water in it. Then thought there was no possibility of saving the barge. Took the steamer as close as possible to her and called out to the crew to launch the boat and save themselves, which they would not do. Seeing they were not launching their own boat, steamed to windward with the intention of dropping the steamer's boat down on her, but could not get the steamer in a position to do so. The sea was then running very heavy, and the steamer falling into the trough started the coarsing-board on the port side. This was about 8 a.m. The barge kept drifting down on Kangaroo Island to the eastward of Kangaroo Head, distant about four miles from the land, and the wind still about north. The steamer was at this time shipping a great deal of water; despaired of saving the men's lives; kept the steamer head to wind; the barge still drifting in. Then consulted with the mate, engineer, and most experienced man before the mast, as to whether anything else could be done to save the lives on board the barge. More than half the barge was now under water (about half-past 8 a.m.). Waited about with the steamer for some time longer. The barge then sunk altogether, distant from the steamer about half a mile, and nothing could be seen floating about. This was about three miles from the land. About half-past 9 o'clock steamed away for Port Elliot, and arrived there at 5 p.m. "ROBERT ROSS "Declared before me, at Goolwa, this 2nd day of July, 1856.

LOSS OF THE BARGE GOULBURN. (1856, July 12). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 5. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161259955

See also

DOMESTIC NEWS. (1856, July 8). Adelaide Times (SA : 1848 - 1858), p. 2. Retrieved October 31, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article207093606

On the 29th June, drowned off Kangaroo Island, by the sinking of the Goulburn, William, eldest son of the late Captain Stone, of Port Adelaide, and grandson of the late Lieutenant Stone, R.N.. aged 16 years.

Family Notices (1856, July 10). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49756889