In 1878, as Captain Gibb navigated his ship between Cape Otway and King Island with mist obscuring the passage, the Loch Ard was shipwrecked. Of the fifty-four passengers and crew, only two survived.
As I stood over Loch Ard Gorge named in the ship’s honour, I read how Tom Pearce survived the night, swam to shore, then returned to sea when he heard Eva Carmichael’s cries. After he rescued her, they sheltered in a cave for the night. The next morning, Tom climbed out of the gorge to seek help.
Standing over the narrow opening, I couldn’t imagine anyone climbing up the steep cliff face. The only way I thought anyone could make their way out (before the steps were constructed) was to cling to the vegetation and pull themselves up. I can only guess that Tom Pearce did exactly that, to be rewarded in locating two stockmen who organized the rescue of Eva Carmicheal.
Did they see the beauty of the location where they’d been stranded or were they too distraught with the disaster they had managed to survive?