Photographs supplied by Alan L McLean

A headstone, erected at the site of the graves on the cliff at Moonlight Head, commemorates the victims of the "Fiji" shipwreck of 1891.  It also commemorates local resident Arthur Wilkinson who drowned whilst trying to save victims struggling ashore from the wreck.

Note : Monument Australia does not know the exact location of this headstone, but it is our understanding that it is approximately 200 metres east of the campground in dense shrub.  Monument Australia does not recommend people attempt to find this headstone as there is a distinct possiblity of becoming lost.

The anchor of the "Fiji" was cemented to the reef near the wreck site in the 1960s and is visible in low tide. 

The wreck of the barque Fiji was caused by poor weather and a navigational error. The ship was wrecked at Wreck Beach near Moonlight Head during a voyage from Hamburg to Melbourne.

The latest news from the wreck of the unfortunate vessel Fiji shows that she has completely broken up on the rocks. Yesterday morning the life-saving apparatus reached the wreck, and after some trouble communication was established between the shore and the ill-fated barque. Fifteen of the crew succeeded in getting safely ashore by means of the life line, but the others were lost. An heroic attempt by a selector named Williamson (sic) to save one of the drowning men resulted in the loss of his own life. He was standing on the shore and seeing one of the crew battling for dear life in the water plunged in. After a strong, fearful struggle, he reached the drowning man and assisted him back to the ship. Both got safely aboard, but the struggle had been too great for the brave rescuer, and he sank on the deck in a swoon from which he did not recover, and died in a few minutes.

The saved men are : — Captain Vickers, Isley, Campbell (second officer), Leckey, Humphrey, Lovejoy and Evans (apprentices), Julius Gebhaur, (A.B.), Lyons, a sailmaker, and six German sailors whose names have not yet come to hand. The Lady Loch reached the scene of the wreck early yesterday afternoon, but finding that nothing could be done, and that there would be danger in trying to take the people aboard, returned to Apollo Bay.
Australian Star (Sydney), 8 September 1891.

The Wreck Of The Fiji. The bodies that have been recovered were raised on Thursday from the beach to the top of the cliff. The work was one of great difficulty. A rope was attached to a spar on the beach and affixed to a post on the top of the cliff, and by means of a block and tackle the bodies were raised one by one from the beach to the top of the cliffs -  a height of some 400ft. It was a long and painful process and it was not until long after dark that the last body — that of John Landman, the third mate was raised. The ill-fated sailors were interred in their last resting place, on the cliff at Moonlight Head. Mr Jenningsen a Wesleyan missionary, officiated at the graves. 

The last honours to the memory of Arthur Wilkinson, the hero settler of Port Campbell, were paid at Geelong on Thursday afternoon, amid wild and tempestuous surroundings.  The remains of the deceased, which arrived from Camperdown by the midday train, being interred in the new General Cemetery, at Herne Hill. Although the funeral was intended to be simply a private one, a large number of the leading residents of Geelong braved the bitterly inclement weather, and took part in the mournful ceremony, among those in attendance being the councillors of the borough of Newtown and Chilwell. The deceased's remains were interred beside those of his father and an elder brother, who, by a strange coincidence, met his death by drowning. The Rev W. H. Kelly incumbent of All Saints, read the burial service of the Church of England, and afterwards took advantage of the exceptional circumstances to make a short address. He referred to the noble heroism of the deceased in his efforts to save the lives of his fellow beings, helpless to aid themselves.
Mount Alexander Mail (Vic.), 12 September 1891.

Sir - At a well attended meeting of residents of Princetown and district, which was held at Mr Evans's Rivernook on Saturday evening last it was unanimously agreed that something should be done to perpetuate the memory of the brave, the heroic, and the unfortunate actors at the wreck of the Fiji.  Julius Gebhaur represents the first, Arthur Wilkinson the second and the poor fellows whose remains lie buried on the cliff over looking the scene of the mishap, the third. The form the "something" should take was discussed, and it was finally decided (l) that a monument be erected at the grave (2) that a medal, suitably inscribed be presented to the family of the late Arthur Wilkinson enabling his invalid mother and sisters to know the high esteem in which the deceased was held by his last neighbours and acquaintances, (3) that a medal be presented to Julius Gebhaur to tell of how his bravery was admired. A subscription list was opened in the room and a fair beginning was made towards the desired end. Officers were appointed, viz -Mr John Evans Hon secretary and Mr A N Tulloh,hon treasurer. It was decided that I should write, requesting you to kindly receive subscriptions to the above fund. Yours & etc. A. N. Tulloch, Manager National Bank Australasia, Cobden.   Sept. 17. [Subscriptions may be sent to us.-Ed. A.]
Argus (Melbourne), 19 September 1891.


Address:Old Coach Road, Great Otway National Park, Devils Kitchen Great Ocean Walk Campground, Gellibrand Lower, 3237
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.744081
Long: 143.204471
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:06-September-1891
Actual Event End Date:06-September-1891
Monument Manufacturer:Wooles & Carpenter (Warrnambool, VIC)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 27th March, 1892
Front Inscription

Erected by the residents of Warrnambool and District,

In memory of the following who were drowned at the wreck of the ship "Fiji" on 6th September 1891

Erected also to the memory of the brave young colonist, Arthur Wilkinson.

John Bridgeman Chief Officer
Louis Porset A. B.
Daniel Carkland A. B.
Hans Solteu A. B.
Albert Sondenberg A. B.
James Petersen A. B.
Edwin Fredricksen A. B.
Arthur Porter Apprentice.
Joseph Laidman Apprentice.
Joseph Seidel Steward.
(Name unknown) Cook.


Source: MA,VMR, RHSV
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au