Shipwrecks remembered

MEMORIAL WALK WELCOME: Port MacDonnell Maritime Museum committee chairperson Trevor Sheard is looking forward to the memoria walk moving forward. Picture: CHARLOTTE VARCOE.

Charlotte Varcoe

THE final concept designs for a Port MacDonnell Memorial Wall and Shipwreck Walk have been released.

Elected members discussed the plans at Tuesday’s night District Council of Grant meeting following years of consultation and delays.

The designs include a shipwreck memorial walk with freestone curved memorial wall with stainless steel plaques detailing those lost at sea.

It will also include a ship’s wheel on wharf posts as a focal feature to be viewed from the road as well as a masonry wall raised native garden.

There will be seating for the public as well as a timber sleeper retained garden with further shipwreck features placed on raised concrete pads.

According to a council report council officers received further amended concept designs for the precinct and the walk following a meeting with the Port MacDonnell Maritime Museum Committee in February last year.

The committee – which has helped fund the project – assisted in altering the concept designs with its final feedback received by council in October.

Committee chairperson Trevor Sheard said members were happy with the final concept plans after years of consultation and planning.

“The original planning started alongside the Allendale East Area School students and it has just enhanced from there as a feature,” Mr Sheard said.

“We talked to council about it and we have also offered some money to go towards it from our funds which was not a large amount of money but a reasonable contribution to help build it.”

He said the two projects had been ongoing for quite some time with delays from events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and dredging.

“The plans look like it is going to come and get done, which is great and it will be great for those people who have lost family and friends,” Mr Sheard said.

“This recognition is important because if someone drowns or is lost at sea they often do not have a grave.

“The memorial will be for all those who have been lost in fishing exercises, diving and swimming or just accidents in the water and there are quite a few.”

He said there were about 30 plaques to be installed in the memorial wall alongside a bollard for all the recorded shipwrecks along the District Council of Grant coastline.

“A lot of the incidents with ships here were broken moorings because we had no breakwater and it was a protected harbour so the government put in a mooring for that purpose,” Mr Sheard said.

“This was the second biggest freight port in South Australia for many years and the government did a pretty poor job of putting a mooring there, so much so they even lost one of their own ships which was tied to it.”

He said the government soon got the idea the mooring was not satisfactory with many ships breaking their moorings in storms.

“As a kid down here at the sea when it is rough it was terrifying to even think a ship could be tied up out there and hanging onto a mooring and they used to load the ships in those conditions,” Mr Sheard said.

“Sometimes all the loading was done by smaller rowing boats and they would roll out with the freight and then hand load it back onto the ship and come back, get another load and take that out in the appalling weather.”

He said he was hoping the broader community would accept the concept designs should it go to community consultation, stating it would be a good tourist attraction and allow people to sit and eat by the water.

Elected members decided to put the plans out to community consultation.