Historical information

The photograph shows the three-masted iron and steel bark "Newfield" sailing in open seas. It event would have been between 1889-1892 during the ship's working life.


The Newfield was a three-masted iron and steel barque, built in Dundee, Scotland, in 1889 by Alexander Stephen and Sons. It was owned by the Newfield Ship Company in 1890 and later that year It was registered in Liverpool to owners Brownells and Co.

The Newfield left Sharpness, Scotland, on 28th May 1892 with a crew of 25 under the command of Captain George Scott and on 1st June left Liverpool. She was bound for Brisbane, Australia, with a cargo of 1850 tons of fine rock salt, the main export product of Sharpness.

At about 9pm on 28th August 1892, in heavy weather, Captain Scott sighted, between heavy squalls, the Cape Otway light on the mainland of Victoria but, due to a navigational error (the ship’s chronometers were wrong), he assumed it to be the Cape Wickham light on King Island, some 40 miles south. He altered his course to the north, expecting to enter Bass Strait. The ship was now heading straight for the south west Victorian coast and at about 1:30am ran aground on a reef about 100 yards from shore and one mile east of Curdie’s Inlet, Peterborough.

The ship struck heavily three times before grounding on an inner shoal with 6 feet of water in the holds. Rough sea made the job of launching lifeboats very difficult. The first two lifeboats launched by the crew were smashed against the side of the ship and some men were crushed or swept away. The third lifeboat brought eight men to shore. It capsized when the crew tried to return it to the ship for further rescue The Port Campbell rocket crew arrived and fired four rocket lines, none of which connected with the ship. A local man, Peter Carmody, volunteered to swim one mile to the ship with a line to guide the fourth and final lifeboat safely to shore. Seventeen men survived the shipwreck but the captain and eight of his crew perished. One of the men, apprentice William McLeod, was rescued by local woman Margaret E. MacKenzie.

The Newfield remained upright on the reef with sails set for a considerable time as the wind slowly ripped the canvas to shreds and the sea battered the hull to pieces.

The Marine Board inquiry found the wreck was caused by a "one man style of navigation" and that the Captain had not heeded the advice of his crew.

According to Jack Loney ‘… when the drama was over . . the Newfield was deserted except for the Captain’s dog and two pigs.’

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum has several artefacts that have been salvaged from the wreck.


The report from SHP documented the following in regards to the Newfield collection:

Flagstaff Hill’s collection of artefacts from the Newfield is of historical and archaeological significance at a State level, because of its association with the shipwreck, which is on the Victorian Heritage Register. The collection is significant because of its relationship between the objects.

The Newfield collection is archaeologically significant as it is the remains of an international cargo ship.

The Newfield collection is historically significant for representing aspects of Victoria’s shipping history and its potential to interpret sub-theme 1.5 (Living with natural processes). The collection is also historically significant for its association with the shipwreck.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of the three-masted sailing ship “Newfield” in the open sea, sails unfurled. The ship was built in 1859 by Alexander Stephen and Sons Limited of Dundee, Scotland.