The Long Walk 1797Print Page Print this page

A plaque commemorates the walk taken by the survivors of the "Sydney Cove" which was wrecked in Bass Strait in 1797. 

In March 1797 at Ninety Mile Beach in Victoria, five British and 12 Bengali seamen swam ashore after their longboat was ripped apart in a storm. Sydney, a town of barely 1,500 people, was over 700 kilometres to the north. Meanwhile, their fellow-survivors from the wreck of the Sydney Cove were stranded further south, on a tiny island in the Bass Strait.

To get help and save their own lives, the 17 sailors had no alternative. They set out to walk to Sydney — but only three of the men arrived. Scottish merchant, 27-year-old William Clark, penned a daily account of their perilous journey.


Address:Esplanade, Lakes Entrance, 3909
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.879344
Long: 147.993698
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:27-February-1797
Actual Event End Date:15-May-1797


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 15th March, 1997
Front Inscription

THE LONG WALK 1797 - 1997

During February of 1797, the vessel ‘Sydney Cove’ was wrecked at the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait. On 27 February, seventeen of the survivors set off in the ship’s longboat towards Sydney for help. The longboat was washed ashore near here, and the group, headed by the supercargo William Clarke and the first mate Hugh Thompson was forced to walk north along the coast towards Sydney.

The party of 17 set out on March 15, and after a walk of almost two months during which period many died from exhaustion and starvation reached Wattamolla near Sydney on 15 May 1797. Of this group, only three survived the journey.

This remarkable walk was the first known European exploration of the south eastern coast of Australia and marked the first contact between Aboriginals and Europeans in this area. In 1997 this journey was re-enacted by the Scout Associations of Victoria and New South Wales, following the original diary and dates of the event. Artefacts from the wreck of the ‘Sydney Cove’ were carried on this journey and placed with the remains of the Captain, Guy Hamilton, in Sydney.

Unveiled by Mr. David Treasure M.l.A March 15th 1997
Plaque to commemorate the event. Lakes Entrance,Vic

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Proudly sponsored by UBC Web Design