"Earl of Charlemont" Wreck - Pioneers MemorialPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by John Cole

A monument commemorates the immigrant survivors from the "Earl of Charlemont" and those who saved them from the shipwreck.

The "Earl of Charlemont" sailed from Liverpool on 13th March, 1853 with 366 passengers plus crew. The Captain was William Gardner - his first port of call in Australia was to be Port Phillip Bay before taking the majority of his passengers to Sydney.

On Saturday 18th June, 1853, the ship was wrecked off Barwon Heads after striking a reef which now bears its name - Charlemont Reef. Not one life was lost. The Board of Inquiry investigating the wreck issued a report, a case was made out but charges were not laid, and severe public criticism followed at the uselessness of officialdom and the enquiry process. Much public sympathy was expressed for the immigrants who had apparently suffered extremely poor conditions during the voyage and had lost their possessions in the wreck.

Geelong people subscribed 1,000 pounds to a fund to assist the passengers. It is socially significant for the descendants of the many immigrants who made it ashore safely, and who have erected a memorial cairn to their forbears on Point Flinders.

A simple cairn, commemorating the pioneering spirit of survivors of the wreck of the Earl of Charlemont 100 years ago, has been unveiled at Barwon Heads (Vic.). Eighty descendants of Josiah Bean who,at the age of 23, survived the wreck, attended the unveiling and, later, a thanksgiving service and family reunion dinner. The unveiling was originally planned to coincide with the centenary of the wreck on June 18, 1953, but it was postponed owing to the death of Josiah Bean's son, Mr. H. J. Bean, who planned the commemoration. The plans were completed by another son, Mr. L. P. R. Bean, of Sydney.The cairn stands on the tall bluff at Barwon Heads, on the sands of which the Earl Charlemont finally went aground. The bronze tablet on the cairn was provided by the descendants of Josiah Bean. At the reunion dinner,a serviette ring made from the timbers of the Earl of Charlemont was presented by Mr. L. P. R. Bean. At the thanksgiving service, the family Bible of JosiahBean and his wife, Priscilla,was used. Essbee (Vic.).
World's News (Sydney), 6 February 1954.


Address:Bluff Road, The Bluff, Barwon Heads, 3227
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.289711
Long: 144.498008
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:18-June-1853
Actual Event End Date:18-June-1853


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 5th December, 1953
Front Inscription

On the 18th June 1853 from the wrecked ship Earl of Charlemont and the breakers below, about 450 persons landed destitute and toiled towards Geelong. One hundred years later these pioneers and those who greatly helped them were remembered here.

The descendants of Josiah Bean, a passenger, dedicated the tablet as a thank offering and the cairn was built by the Council of the Shire of South Barwon.
The memorial was unveiled by the President Cr G. A. Cameron J.P. Nov. 1953.

Plaque :

On Sunday 22 June 2003, several hundred descendants and others, came together in Barwon Heads to commemorate the 150 years since the sinking of the `Earl of Charlemont` and gave thanks to those pioneers who helped build our nation.

The enthusiastic response to the various activities on the special day will ensure that the `Earl of Charlemont` story never fades.

Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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