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The Margaret Brock

1848 - 1852

The Margaret Brock was a three-masted wooden barque built at Hobart Town in 1848. The vessel measured 91.5 feet (27.9 metres) in length, 23.7 feet (8.3 metres) in breadth, 13.6 feet (4.1 metres) in depth and was of 245 tonnes.

On 20th November 1852 the vessel sailed for Melbourne from Port Adelaide with a general cargo and 27 passengers.

At 2am on 23rd November, whilst travelling at a rate of 6 knots, the vessel struck an uncharted reef near Cape Jaffa.

The crew tried to back the ship off but to no avail, and then all hands, including passengers, were employed to lighten the ship by throwing cargo overboard.

By daylight they found their efforts were useless as the vessel was filling rapidly.


A full load of 37 people then went ashore in the long boat, while four of the crew and three passengers volunteered to remain until the boat could return for them.

Captain McMeckan later described his admiration for the passengers but found his crew to be surly and uncooperative. Eventually, he and a boat’s crew made the perilous rescue of those left on board.

The remains of the Margaret Brock are located in 2-10 metres of water on the Margaret Brock Reef, which is about 5 kms west of Cape Jaffa. None of the vessel’s hull structure can be seen.

Fittings recovered include anchors and chains, a capstan, deck skylights and the barque’s bell, which are now on display in the Kingston Museum and also in the Margaret Brock Room in the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Museum.

Cargo remains recovered are also on display, and include bricks, bottles, ceramic ware, and a pestle.

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