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Admella 150 Festival - 6-16 August 2009

Commemorating a Tragedy; Celebrating Volunteerism.


The S.S. Admella was a new, luxurious and allegedly unsinkable, iron steam ship. She left Port Adelaide on route to Melbourne with 113 people, 6 horses and a cargo of copper on 5 August 1859. In the early hours of the next day she hit Carpenter Rocks and within 15minutes, had broken into 3 sections.

For 8 days passengers and crew clung helplessly to the broken ship with very little food and no fresh water or shelter. The shore was in view, but the vast seas made it inaccessible; survivors had to watch in horror as day after day people died around them; from dehydration, starvation, exposure and sheer despair.

The ship’s lifeboats were wrecked or washed away, the signal cannon had sunk, and a number of failed attempts to reach the shore had been made before two sailors succeeded; almost 3 days after the wreck.

Boats and Ships arrived to help from Robe, Adelaide and Portland but were unable to get close to the wreck without putting themselves in immense danger.

Finally the Portland lifeboat, and one of the Admella’s lifeboats, which was found washed ashore, and patched with soap and canvas, were used to heroically save the lives of 24 passengers and crew; 89 people had lost their lives. Of the 19 woman and 15 children on board, only one woman, Bridget Ledwith, had survived.

The Admella 150 Festival is being planned in consultation with many local government associations, businesses, schools and community groups to provide a variety of events suitable for people of different ages & interests.

Hundreds of descendants are expected to attend the Admella 150 Festival; with events planned in various townships in the Limestone Coast of South Australia and Western Districts of Victoria:

For further information or to register your interest:

Visit www.admella.org.au or phone District Council of Grant 08 8721 0444

Medals above Awarded to William McDonell, a crew member of the Lady Bird (and the greatgrandfather of Maritime World's editor) by the Victorian Colonists and the Board of Trade for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea. Below The Admella by James Shaw (1815 - 1881), 1858 - oil on canvas; Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia.



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