Historical information

These rectangular slates of 'beautiful, unusual, expensive, green' American roofing tiles were recovered from the wreck of the Falls of Halladale. Salvaging began in 1974 by volunteer divers, using local cray-fishing boats. An efficient system was devised to recover up to 4,000 of the still neatly packed slates a day. Many of the 22,000 salvaged slates can be seen on the roofs of eight Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village buildings.

The iron-hulled, four-masted barque, the Falls of Halladale (1886 - 1908), was a bulk carrier of general cargo. She left New York in August 1908 on her way to Melbourne and Sydney. In her hold, along with 56,763 tiles of unusual beautiful green American slates (roofing tiles), 5,673 coils of barbed wire, 600 stoves, 500 sewing machines, 6500 gallons of oil, 14400 gallons of benzene, and many other manufactured items, were 117 cases of crockery and glassware.

Three months later and close to her destination, a navigational error caused the Falls of Halladale to be wrecked, grounded on a reef at Wreck Point, midway between Peterborough and the Bay of Islands, during the night of 14th November 1908. The captain and 29 crew members all survived, but her valuable cargo was largely lost, despite two salvage attempts in 1908-09 and 1910.

The ship stayed in full sail on the rocky shelf for nearly two months, attracting hundreds of sightseers who watched her slowly disintegrate until the pounding seas and dynamiting by salvagers finally broke her back, and her remains disappeared back into deeper water.

The shipwreck is a popular site for divers, about 300m offshore and in 3 – 15m of water. Some of the original cargo can be seen at the site, including pieces of roof slate and coils of barbed wire.


The American slate tiles are significant as an example of cargo imported for use as building materials in Australia.
The Falls of Halladale shipwreck is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (No. S255).
She was one of the last ships to sail the Trade Routes.
She is one of the first vessels to have fore and aft lifting bridges.
She is an example of the remains of an International Cargo Ship and also represents aspects of Victoria’s shipping industry
The wreck is protected as a Historic Shipwreck under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976).

Physical description

Bundle of slate roofing tiles (18); rectangular, green American slate roofing tiles, some with red-brown stains. Two tiles both have two holes drilled through them. Two different tiles are thicker than the others. The tiles were salvaged from the wreck of Falls of Halladale.