The SS Speke ran aground in 1906 not far from Phillip Island’s Kitty Miller Bay; a rocky cove that has more recently become a hotspot for fishing, surfing and snorkelling. The Bow or “nose” of the Speke has come to rest on its side, concealed behind cliffs to the East of the Bay. At the time, the Speke Sailing Ship was one of the largest of its kind, yet the ship was still no match for the notoriously rough seas of the Bass Strait, colliding with the reef in 1906. The combination of Kitty Miller Bay’s unique seascape and the opportunity to experience this wreckage up close makes for an intriguing adventure.
- 1 hour and 45 minutes from Melbourne
- 900 metre walk from Kitty Miller Bay, Steep hills and unstable rocks. Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
- Best explored at a Medium – Low tide, However High tide may be preferred for photography
- Only the Bow or “nose” of the ship can be seen here. The rest of the wreck was scattered on impact with the reef
The Speke was originally a three-masted steel ship over 90 metres long, however, after the impact, majority of the ship was broken up into smaller debris that was scattered along the coast. The condition of the bow and dispersed ruins at this site, has deteriorated over time. The rusty steel and ongoing erosion most definitely adds to the experience, stamping itself as a maritime monument from last century. During high tide the water rushes around the relic covering the lower section, whereas when the tide subsides the Speke is left exposed in the middle of the beach. Low tide is perfect for exploring but high tide will be the best conditions for those seeking photography.
Once you emerge over the hill and enter the scene of the wreckage it may seem somewhat underwhelming. However, walking up to meet the Speke at ground level will soon ignite your excitement. The length of the bow gives great insight into the size of the full ship while the docking bollards and holes in the hull provide some clues for orientation. Each piece of debris scattered in the area, also just another piece of the puzzle.
Kitty Miller Bay itself is a new experience for most, as other Phillip Island hotspots such as the Phillip Island Caves and the Cape Woolamai Walk feature a very different coastline. Despite being just short of penguin territory, Kitty Miller presents a very harsh seascape with an abundance of jagged rocks. Pause for a moment on top of the hills to observe the crashing waves that once were the undoing of the SS Speke.
Directions to The SS Speke Shipwreck:
- Travel towards Kitty Miller Bay
- Park in the car parks, closest to the beach access.
- Walk down the stairs and begin walking left (East) along the beach.
- Continue for 50 metres hugging the outskirts of the beach, until you see a steep dirt track that leads up the hill.
- Take this track for another 800 metres or so around the cove until you see the wreck on the other side of the cliffs.
- Follow the steep dirt track down on to the beach towards the shipwreck.