Inverlochy figure head, Torquay History

Inverlochy shipwreck, Torquay history
c State Library Victoria

Built in Glasgow, Scotland 1895, the barque ‘Inverlochy’ met the fate of hundreds of ships along this coast. Shipwrecked at Anglesea on 18th December 1902, the figurehead was saved. It appears to have been mounted overlooking the beach before it was mounted on a flagpole on the Torquay front beach foreshore, remaining there until its disappearance in the 1950’s.

Inverlochy shipwreck, Torquay history, figureheadLocal artist/sculptor Mark Trinham carved a dead Cypress tree in 2001/02 to resemble the figurehead in its abstract underwater surrounds. Check it out to find the six fish.

The tree was approximately 80 years old and could possibly be the young tree in the photo behind the flagpole.

The barque “Inverlochy”, was wrecked on Thursday night, 18th December, 1902, on Butler’s Reef, two miles from the beach at Anglesea and midway between Point Roadknight and Point Addis. The 1471 ton steel barque belonging to G. Milne and Co. of Aberdeen, was bound from Liverpool to Port Phillip, Launceston and Hobart with a general cargo.[1] The wind kept up during the early part of the night, then the wind fell away all of a sudden, leaving the vessel to drift finding itself near breakers ahead later that night. The Captain tried to tack, but missed stays. Then he tried to ‘wear’ the ship, but could not do so. In the meantime the Inverlochy was drifting closer to the breakers, and just as they dropped anchors she bumped. At that time the water was comparatively smooth, but a big swell rose, sufficient to cause some trouble in getting out the boats. The vessel was rocking from side to side, and the poop fittings were cast about on deck like corks. The masts swayed and shook, straining the stays to the utmost, and expecting that they would come down on us every minute, they hurried to lower the life boats.[2]

After leaving the ship at about 11.30pm, the two ship’s lifeboats with all aboard headed towards Port Phillip Heads where they burned blue lights in the hope of attracting a pilot boat to rescue them. When this failed, after a wet and uncomfortable night of strong westerly winds, heavy seas, and deluges of torrential rain, they eventually made it ashore near Thompsons Creek (Breamlea) at 7.00am, and walked along the sandy beach to Barwon Heads.

The stricken barque was boarded by a fisherman employee of Felix Rosser and James Letallac. When revisited by the Captain and crew, the vessel was still intact. Later, successful salvage operations were conducted but not all the cargo was retrieved.[3]

In early June 1903 a series of severe gales shook the wreck with the result that three tons of timber spars and the figurehead were washed ashore. In July 1903 “at least half the cargo” was still on board being “firmly lodged” in the hull, a request was made that the wreck be blown up, to destroy the remaining cargo, thereby discouraging wreckers and saving the expense of employing a guard.[4]

The bell of the ‘Inverlochy’ was kept at the hotel Anglesea[5], for all interested to inspect, but the figurehead had been for many years an interesting curiosity on the foreshore at Torquay.

[1] Age, 20 December 1902
[2] Ibid
[3] Baies, James (1937) The History of Torquay
[4] Heritage Victoria database
[5] Baines Ibid