Part Two: Wrecked on a Reef
Out Beyond the Leaves of Grass (Christobel Kelly)
Shortly after the Star of Greece departed Port Adelaide, squally weather set in, causing the ship to drift off course and veer too close to shore. A massive wave lifted the vessel and hammered it against the reef 200 metres off Port Willunga, breaking it in two.
It wasn’t until 7.55am the next morning that the alarm was raised at Aldinga Beach when residents glimpsed men clinging to the rigging at the top of the mast. There was no rescue equipment available on the shore and by the time Port Adelaide received a message for help, the captain and many of the crew clinging to the mizzen rigging had drowned.
GF Gregory, The Star of Greece, 1888. Watercolour. Reproduced in monochrome, courtesy State Library of South Australia
The disaster took place so close to shore that many locals stood helpless on the beach, unable to reach the men as the tragedy unfolded. Of the 28 men on the crew, 17 lost their lives.
The wreck of the Star of Greece is widely regarded as one of South Australia’s worst maritime disasters.