“Star of Greece” shipwreck in 1888

Event Dates:

13 July 1888

On 13 July 13 1888, in the early hours of the morning, Star of Greece was wrecked just off the beach at Port Willunga.  Star Of Greece was part of the Calcutta jute trade for most of its time, and established a sailing speed record that was never broken. The ship was remarkable for the amount of brass on deck, and was thought to be the handsomest ship to ever enter Port Adelaide.

After leaving Semaphore with a cargo of wheat, Star of Greece was caught in a storm, and wrecked off the beach at Port Willunga at 3.00am. When the wreck is discovered, the beach at Port Willunga is crowded with people trying to save the crew. There is no rocket, no life saving equipment, and the telegraph is not open, but still the people try. Some of the local heroes’ names are from Port Willunga:  Thomas Martin, James Nelson, Maria Bowering, William Bowering, Charles Addison, Thomas Lovelock, Noah Crisp, Ben Sparrow and Elizabeth Russell. Also Mounted Constable Thomas Stephen Tuohy who comes from Willunga.

Despite the best efforts of the people of Port Willunga, 18 men died, including the captain, Henry Harrower. Many of the relics from Star of Greece can be seen today. Some are in private hands, some are at the South Australian Maritime Museum, such as the Star of Greece figurehead, and some at the Willunga Courthouse in A Tragic Shore exhibition. One of the Star of Greece anchors is now a memorial for sailing sea captains and crews at Semaphore.  Star of Greece shipwreck is a story of tragedy, heroism and government bungling, and it has become one of South Australia’s iconic shipwrecks.




Sexton, Rae. 1982. Before the Wind: The Saga of the Star of Greece. Magill, SA: Australasian Maritime Historical Society.
Manning, Geoffrey. H. 1988 The Tragic Shore. Willunga: National Trust of Australia (Willunga Branch).
Simpson, Paul. 2017. Star of Greece: For Profit and Glory. Adelaide. Clippership Press.

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