The Clonmel shipwreck was instrumental in the settlement of Gippsland and the establishment of the towns of Port Albert, Tarraville and Alberton.
The History of the Clonmel
The paddle steamer Clonmel was one of the first steam-powered vessels on the Australian coast.
The Clonmel was used to establish traffic by sea between Sydney, Melbourne, and Launceston, beginning on the 1st of December 1840.
The Clonmel was a luxury English ship, 12 meters wide and 45 meters long, powered by two 110-horsepower engines.
On the 2nd of January 1841, Captain Tollervey, new to Australian waters, ran the ship aground at the Port Albert Bar (Corner Inlet), one of Australia's most treacherous stretches of water and responsible for approximately 20 shipwrecks.
This, its third trip, carried cargo plus 75 passengers and crew, all of which survived and made it to shore.
The wreck of the Clonmel was instrumental in the settlement of Gippsland and the establishment of the towns of Port Albert, Tarraville and Alberton.
The Gippsland Company set out to find a suitable port to support their cattle export. They named the Tarra and Albert Rivers and established the location where they could load and unload boats – this area is today called Seabank or the Old Port.
Seabank was later abandoned for Port Albert, which had better access to Gippsland and a more favourable seaport. This area became the main thoroughfare for traffic into Gippsland until the creation of the roads and railways from Melbourne to the Port of Sale.
Although the wreck of the Clonmel was a disaster at the time, it is now one of the most significant archaeological sites in Victoria.
The remains of the Clonmel wreck and its boiler are such a significant piece of history that Heritage Victoria has declared it has a protected zone.
Visit the Port Albert Maritime Museum to learn more about our rich maritime history.