Australia's export of minerals by large steam vessels to interstate and overseas ports remained profitable until the introduction of the motor vehicle after World War I, whose affect had an eventual impact on the diminishing interstate coastal trade.
The 650 tonne cargo vessel, the SS Pareora, was an example of the steam driven era and when underway from the industrial 'golden triangle' (Port Pirie), Spencer Gulf, the vessel was on its 9th return journey to Tasmania. Rather steering a wide berth south of Althorpe Island, the vessel attempted a direct course between the mainland and the island, with fatal consequences.
Out of the seven shipwrecks around Althorpe Island, only one sank prior to the onset of lighthouse operations in 1879 and when the 55 metre SS Pareora ran into island's northern rocky shore in 1919, eleven men perished, seven survived and three bodies recovered. Within twenty four hours, three victims (JF Booth, JC Branthwaite, R. Deebly) were buried along the island's shoreline overlooking their fate.
Considered to be one of the worst maritime disasters of Investigator Strait, the reverberations of the tragedy carried well beyond south western Yorke Peninsula communities and remains significant enough with overseas and interstate relatives, joining South Australian family members paying their homage or tribute. (1997, 2006, 2009). The son of a surviving crew member released a song on its 90th anniversary (Four Letters of Luck, Phil Clay) of the sinking of the SS Pareora, on September 18th, 1919.
The prominent SS Pareora grave site along the coast in Althorpe Island's largest bay, has been maintained by Keepers since 1919, caretakers in 1991 and then the Friends of Althorpe Islands Conservation Park since 1996.