The Ethel Shipwreck of South Australia

The Ethel Shipwreck of South Australia

The Ethel Shipwreck

One of South Australia’s most stunning beaches is lined by a rugged coastline and conceals a dark secret on its shores. The shipwreck of the Ethel gives Ethel Beach its name and makes the location one of the most interesting within the Innes National Park.

Ethel Shipwreck on beach in Inneston.
Looking down at the Ethel Shipwreck strewn across the beach.

Though rarely uncovered, recent swells and storms had revealed the rotting hull of a once-formidable iron ship. The jagged metal skeleton pierced through the soft sand of the beach to reveal the shape of what once made up the hull of the Ethel. The exposed shipwreck is fully visible from the top of the steep cliffs that overlook the beach, though descending the dangerously steep staircase to the beach below allows one to walk amongst the gnarled remains of this ship and experience the wreck in a thrilling way.

Shipwreck on coast of South Australia.
The Ethel’s former hull now shredded into skeletal debris.

Today the Ethel wreck is a protected historic site and a unique tourist attraction for those passing through the Innes National Park. The story of the Ethel’s demise, however, is a sad one laced with death.

South Australian coast line and shipwreck of the Ethel.
The rugged South Australian coastline with the Ethel Shipwreck just in view.

Death Along the South Australian Coast

On the evening of January 2, 1904, the Ethel was making her way to Australia from South Africa. The ship ran into trouble along the South Australian coast after hitting a reef. In a panic, 19-year-old Leonard Sterneson bravely jumped from the ship to swim a safety line ashore. Sadly, Leonard was swept out to sea by the rough waters where he perished. His death would prove unnecessary as, by the next morning, the Ethel had been swept ashore where all others on board could depart to safety.

Shipwreck near the ocean.
Rusted iron and rotting pieces of the ship.

Ironically the first ship to pass by and report the Ethel’s accident, the SS Ferret, crashed in the same area just 16 years later. This just goes to show how treacherous this stretch of the coast can be. Though there were no deaths on board the Ferret, there have been 26 other ships wrecked in the area with as many as 70 reported deaths in the water as a result.

the SS Ferret shipwreck South Australia.
Waves crash against the only visible debris left of the SS Ferret.

Though there aren’t any hauntings that have been reported in the area, the dark history of the York Penisula and the theory that water is a conductor for paranormal activity, make this location a prime candidate for a ghost or two.

Shipwreck at nighttime.
The spooky shipwreck by night.

Visiting the Ethel Wreck

The Ethel Wreck can be visited by entering the Innes National Park. Tickets to the park can be purchased online or at the visitor’s center at the park’s entrance. A road and parking access near the cliffs of Ethel Beach are available and a steep staircase allows access to the beach. Be warned there are many stairs to scale to reach the shipwreck. Fortunately for me, the wreck was completely visible, which is a rare occurrence. Usually, the wreck is submerged under far more sand.

Walking through a real shipwreck in South Australia.
Wandering through all that is left of a once glorious ship.

If you enjoyed this article you might like to learn about other haunted places in South Australia such as the Old Adelaide Gaol.

Thanks for reading!


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One comment

  • Donald Thurston

    Posted by Donald Thurston on October 20, 2019

    I really enjoyed this episode,you guys looked like you were having a great time! Of course I enjoy all your episodes. Having your friends join you on one of your travels was really cool. Also wanted to thank you for responding to my email !
    Just wanted to let you know I have a medical condition and don’t go anywhere. YouTubers like yourselves allow me to do things and see things that I can’t. I really appreciate all the hard work and travel that you have done and sacrifices that you have made for us the viewer! Love you guys,take care . Fan for life, Donald

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