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.

Carved Relief from wreck of the Admella

Colourful carved wooden relief from the vessel Admella. It most likely decorated a first class passenger cabin aboard the vessel.

Passenger steamship SS Admella was wrecked on a submerged reef off the coast of Carpenter Rocks, south west of Mount Gambier, South Australia, in the early hours of Saturday 6 August 1859. Survivors clung to the wreck for over a week and many people took days to die as they glimpsed the land from the sea and watched as one rescue attempt after another failed.

Admella was carrying 82 passengers and 31 crew from Adelaide to Melbourne when it was wrecked. With the loss of 89 lives, mostly due to cold and exposure, it is one of the worst maritime disasters in Australian history. Of the 113 on board, there were only 24 survivors. Of the 89 dead, 14 were children.

Maker: Lawrence Hill & Co

Associated locations: Mount Gambier, Adelaide, Melbourne. Portland