Although other wrecks lead to greater loss of life, the wreck of the Admella is known as the most famous of the wrecks that occurred along the south east coast of South Australia (now known as the Limestone Coast) and the west coast of Victoria (Shipwreck Coast). There are many reasons for this. Most of the 24 survivors hung onto the wreck for seven nights and eight days while being constantly battered by raging surf and bitter cold ˜ it was August and the depths of winter.
This was the first wreck after the capital cities of Australia were linked by the telegraph. Messages were sent from Mount Gambier to Adelaide and from there to the rest of the country. There were daily updates in most colony (state) newspapers on the plight of those still hanging onto the wreck and papers such as the Adelaide Register brought out special editions to keep the populace informed.
The South Australian Parliament adjourned during the crisis.
Despite the incredible risks, there were numerous rescue attempts mounted both from the shore opposite where the wreck lay and from the sea. Most of these failed, adding to the despair of those trapped on the wreck.
The Victorian Government (remembering the wreck occurred before Federation) had a warship, H.M.S. Niger that could have been sent to assist those on the wreck. The Victorian Premier, John O'Shanassy, refused to help with the excuse that as the Admella was in South Australian waters, it was the problem of the South Australian Government. When the Premier went to the polls not long after the Admella disaster, he lost and his response to the plight of those trapped on the Admella is argued by some, as being a contributory factor to his defeat.
Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote a poem "From the Wreck" based on the 26 kilometre ride by Peter Black to Mount Gambier to raise the alarm. Click here for the Story of the Admella. Many generations of school children studied this poem at school and this helped keep the story of the Admella alive.