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Culture and heritage


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In 1891 the reef was struck by the Canadian 3 - masted sailing ship the Joseph H. Scammell. The ship, which had travelled from New York via Cape of Good Hope, struck the reef at night and ran broadside onto the reef after mistakenly thinking that they were approaching Port Phillip Heads. The ship became wedged on the reef and eventually broke up in the heavy seas. Cargo form the ship was scattered extensively along the coast and was soon the target of looters in large numbers.

Just after the lifeboat left the ship with all safely aboard the masts came down. The hull completely broke up during the rest of the day, and as the high seas and tides receded the beach in Zeally Bay and the next four miles east was strewn with parts of the ship, crates and casks of goods, including thousands of cases of kerosene, hardware, rolls of tobacco and pianos. It would have been the modern day equivalent of a major hardware chain store or shopping centre washing up onto the beach.

The valuable wreckage sparked off the largest wave of illegal looting, pilfering and smuggling in the Geelong area's history as up to 2000 people would visit the wreck site in one day.

Some concentrated remnants of the hull fittings and cargo can still be located among the reef gullies and crevices of Point Danger, indicating the original wreck site on the reef. Anchors from the Scammell are displayed on Torquay front beach.

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