Lizzie ? -1915

Text: Malcolm Venturoni

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While researching wrecks in the Venus Bay area, such as the Magnat, Amazon, Duke of Wellington and Helen, I contacted an elderly local resident of Inverloch and member of the local historical society. While talking with her about the above mentioned wrecks, she also mentioned a wreck previously unknown to me, called the Lizzie. Her knowledge of the vessel itself was rather limited although she does recall the wrecking of the Lizzie and indicated to me where I would find the remains in Screw Creek. This aroused my interest in the vessel, and I therefore began to do some research.
The Lizzie at Rhyll. Photo courtesy Arthur Woodley.
The Lizzie at Rhyll. Photo courtesy Arthur Woodley.

The Lizzie was purchased by the Woorayl Shire Council in 1910 for the sum of 106 pounds from San Remo. The Lizzie is mentioned as being a cutter and had a 5 pound deposit paid on her in January 1910. The reason for the purchase was that the Shire needed a vessel to carry bluestone from Cuttriss's quarry in Inverloch up the Tarwin River to Tarwin Lower where it would be crushed and used in the construction of roads. There is no mention of the vessel in the Shire Council minutes up until the time of sinking, when in September 1915 while at Screw Creek, the Lizzie was partially destroyed by an explosion. This was not thought to be accidental and Constable Hehir of Inverloch called in detectives from Melbourne to investigate.

Black trackers were also sent to the scene of the wreck hoping to flush out the culprits, but with no success. The Shire Engineer, Clifford Bate inspected the Lizzie and reported that the stem section had been badly damaged and most of the planking had been forced completely away from the stem post. A quote was made to repair the vessel and to refloat her, but due to the war effort, experienced personnel were not available for the repairs and therefore nothing was done. Due to the wrecking of the Lizzie, the Woorayl Shire Council was no longer able to cart its bluestone up the river and much more costly road transport had to be used. It was a feeling at the time that the local transport company may have been involved.

Over the next few years the Lizzie sank into the mud in Screw Creek and at the June 1918 Shire Council meeting, Crs Henderson and Donald motioned that the Engineer be instructed to collect at Pound Creek Jetty all items removable from the Lizzie and for them to be sold. There is no further mention in the minutes that this was done.

One of the things that remains a mystery to us at this date is all technical details of the vessel. Throughout the Shire Council Minutes they refer to the Lizzie as being a cutter or a barge, and due to the narrowness of the creek and its shallow entrance we would not be dealing with an extremely large vessel, although bearing in mind it needed to be substantial enough to carry the bluestone. I would expect the Lizzie to be a 40-50 foot vessel. The reason for not knowing any details of the vessel is that it doesn't appear in any Registers. Although for the years previous to 1915 there are several vessels named Lizzie appearing in the registers, but none with the owner as Woorayl Shire Council. Nor does the Shire Council give any indication of the size of the vessel we are dealing with. One thing that deserves mentioning is that an elderly local told me that the nick name for the vessel was Big Lizzie.

The MAAV has conducted several searches in Screw Creek for the remains of the Lizzie but we have yet to locate the wreck. Diving in the creek is only possible for a short period each year during periods of dry weather. Future searches in the creek will surely enable us to locate this site. Once the site is located and inspected all our questions about this vessel should be answered.

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Last modified: June, 2011