Joseph H Scammell Shipwreck WebQuest


There is a large anchor on the Torquay Foreshore and a smaller anchor at Fisherman’s Beach. They both came from the shipwreck Joseph H Scammell. Did you know the anchor on the foreshore is pointing to the location of where the ship came to grief?

Since white settlers arrived in Melbourne and Geelong during the 1830s, many ships pass by Torquay to reach or leave that location. Along this southern coastline of Victoria, many ships got lost or sunk during their trip due to stormy weather or poor navigation. It is believed that there are around 50 shipwrecks along our local coast around Breamlea-Torquay-Point Addis.

When the Joseph H Scammell run aground on 7 May 1891 at Point Danger, thousands flocked to the town to see the stricken vessel. Many illegally took or hid items from the shipwreck.

You are going to learn about the ship, where it came from, what happened, and how this shipwreck became a home.

You are working for the police and customs department and need to find out about how the ship ran aground.

You will present your findings in a report format for the police and maritime board.Ther

Police on Beach

You will learn all you can about this shipwreck to produce a report which should include the following:

  • A picture of your ship (hand-drawn or printed)
  • A map showing the location of the Scammell shipwreck (this can be drawn by hand or printed and plotted).
  • A Journal entry from the Captain, member of the crew, or pilot boat captains on the night of the shipwreck describing the events that occurred.
  • A brief history of the Joseph H Scammell
  • Make a timeline of events that occurred between the time the Scammell left New York and the passengers and crew coming to town.
  • Fun facts you learned along the way
  • Print out the attached sheet of guided questions to develop your background information. Feel free to make up your own questions if you stumble across something interesting.
  • Print out the surf coast map or draw your own to make notes on.

Step #1: Visit the links provided under the RESOURCES section. Try to find several facts from each site you visit.

Step #2: Answer the guided questions in the background information sheet. These will be your notes for your investigation report. Make sure you include completing the ‘Compare & Contrast’ the points of view sheet.

Step #3: Collate all of the information, write a page long journal entry describing the night of the shipwreck. Be as creative as you can!

Step #4: Include a brief history of the ship, background information, and fun facts you discovered along the way.

Step #5: Include a timeline of events

Step #6: After your report is finished, with your parents’ permission, send it to us at [email protected], and we will share it on our website, to show everyone what fun information you have discovered.

Click on the links to learn more about the disaster, Captain, a timeline of events and even the passengers on board



You have developed a report that the police and marine board can use to ensure an accident like this doesn’t happen again and to impose consequences if carelessness was the cause.


Would this outcome surprise you??   [newsclip of court hearing]

Nautical Directional Terms

  • Port: term used to describe the left side of ship
  • Starboard: term used to describe the right side of ship
  • Bow: term used to describe the front of ship, sometimes called ‘forward’
  • Aft: term used to describe the back of ship
  • Stern: another name for the back of a ship
  • Midships: halfway between the bow and stern
  • Shoal:  a natural submerged ridge of rock or sand

  • Fathom: 1 fathom = 1.8288 metres
  • Knots: 1 knot – 1.852 km/hr
  • Yard: 1 yard = 0.9144 metres

Location Names

  • Bream Creek, now Thompson’s Creek, and the township is now Breamlea
  • Split Point, now Aireys Inlet
  • Angel Point, now Point Danger

Other terms

  • Compare means “find the similarities”
  • Contrast means “find the differences”