The South Australian Maritime Museum preserves the oldest nautical collection in Australia. In 1872 the Port Adelaide Institute began a museum collection to complement its library and its educational and social programs. That collection grew over the following century reflecting the seafarers and the ships that visited Port Adelaide. It is now held in trust at the South Australian Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum’s collections ranges from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse that was first lit in 1869 to a plaque that explorer Matthew Flinders left at Memory Cove in 1802 to mark the loss of eight seafarers. It includes figureheads, nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artefacts, paintings, models and vessels.

Our scope is the maritime heritage of South Australia from the coast to inland waters. The collection of over almost 20,000 objects and over 20,000 images is at once a window to the heritage of the local community and to the ships of the world.

Moulded bricks from the Nashwauk

These three decorative bricks were recovered from the shipwreck Nashwauk in 1855. They were destined for a new Freemasons building at Tea Tree Gully.

The Nashwauk was wrecked off the coast near the mouth of the Onkaparinga River on 13 May 1855. The ship carried 300 Irish migrant girls, all of which survived. It is believed the vessel was lured to the shore by a light burning in the attic window of 'Dalkeith House' (now demolished). Those rescued from the stricken ship and were cared for by local people. The following morning the steamer Melbourne and Government schooner Yatala were dispatched from Port Adelaide to pick up the stranded passengers. A north-westerly gale finally broke up the remains of the Nashwauk on 26 May. Sometime after the accident a local man purchased the hull and cargo for �135, recovered fittings and cargo from the wreck and sold them for £600 at an auction on the beach on 31 May.


The stones measure:

  • H: 300, W 280, D 120 mm
  • H: 145, W: 145, D: 140 mm
  • H: 290, W: 220, D: 100 mm

Maker: unknown

Caption: Moulded brick - Nashwauk

AccessionNo: HT 1994.2299


Physical Description:
Moulded brick embossed with image of set square and dividers. The moulded brick was destined from the new Freemasons Hall in Tea Tree Gully when the ship Nashwauk was wrecked of the coast of Moana.

The moulded brick is connected with one of the most signifiicant shipwrecks in South Australia's history. In the 19th century colony was completely reliant sailing vessel to both export its produce to the Eruopean markets and bring vital supplies from Britain. Shipwreck, particularly in the first decades after colonisation, could have a devastating impact on the colony's coffers. The bricks moulded with symbols of Freemasonry, also suggest that while isolated, many of Britains organisations traditions and organisation had taken root.

NASHWAUK went aground south of the Onkaparinga River outlet on the Fleurieu Peninsula, South of Adelaide on 13 May 1855. About 300 Irish women were aboard destined to be wives and maidservants in the colony. They were rescued and taken by ship and bullock wagon to Adelaide. The ship and its contents were broken up by subsequent storms with some of the cargo sold at auction on the beach. The moulded bricks were carried as cargo and were destined for a Freemasons Hall at Tea Tree Gully.