There are about 324 shipwrecks which have been found in Victoria with many threatened by environmental and human interference. The Maritime Heritage at Risk Program aims to identify and protect the most important Victorian shipwrecks at the highest risk.
In November 2016 Heritage Victoria commenced a program designed to identify and prioritise the State’s most significant shipwrecks; provide an assessment of their current and future risk and implement a site management program to better safeguard them.
The Maritime Heritage at Risk Program also includes a Shipwreck Risk Register, through which site management activities for protecting those wrecks is initiated. The wrecks in the Register are pro-actively managed with the aim of minimising further deterioration to the site, this includes regular monitoring and the capture of on-site data on the condition of the wreck to facilitate the development of risk management programs.
In 2018/19 there were 23 shipwrecks in the Register (see below Shipwreck Risk Register).
Key Activities: 2018/19
The key activities conducted in 2018/19 were:
Site Conservation (anodes)
Fieldwork: Amazon Wreck Site
In July 2018, Heritage Victoria was alerted of significant beach erosion at Inveloch and the uncovering of the Amazon shipwreck. The wreck was uncovered and there was evidence of both environmental and human interference with the vessel and its artefacts.
Site management activities commenced in November 2018 through a joint archaeological project between Heritage Victoria and Flinders University (S.A).
The fieldwork comprised the limited excavation and recording of the site including a visual and metal detecting survey. A drone was also used to take aerial imagery.
Photo: The Amazon (1863) Shipwreck Project Report: M. McAllister, et al.
H.M.V.S. Cerberus, Image credit: State Library of Victoria
Site Conservation: HMVS Cerberus
Ongoing Heritage Victoria site conservation activities at HMVS Cerberus include the maintenance of anodes previously installed at the wreck site.
In July 2018 Heritage Victoria issued a heritage permit to the City of Bayside to conduct public safety works by allowing the infilling of the hull of HMVS Cerberus with a marine concrete core to support the armoured breastwork and turrets of the shipwreck.
The infill option is favoured because it mitigates the public safety risk presented by the wreck while at the same time stabilising the wreck and preventing further collapse.
Monitoring of Risk Register wreck sites was conducted has part of Heritage Victoria’s Community Shipwreck Monitoring Trial.
The trial commenced in November 2018 with Queenscliff and Werribee Volunteer Coastguard Flotillas and Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club.
The trial participants conduct regular patrols of the five designated wrecks from Queenscliff, Werribee and Inverloch. Patrols are on the look-out for any damaging activities including anchoring, fishing and diving.
In 2018/19, the participants conducted 55 visits to the wreck sites.
Photo: Queenscliff Volunteer Coastguard Vessel
Image: Extract of Wreck Condition Report
Two new reports were introduced to capture information to facilitate risk management activities.
The Wreck Condition Report includes details such as site environment, how vulnerable the wreck is to fishing, natural processes and socio-economic activity. An assessment is also made of the current condition and condition trend of the wreck.
The Site Visit Report describes the purpose of the visit and the activities to be undertaken.
The reports were first used to collect data at the Amazon wreck site.
Shipwreck Risk Register
The following were identified to be the most significant shipwrecks at the highest risk in 2018/19.
City of Launceston*
City of Rayville
Countess of Hopetoun
Gulf of Carpentaria
Note: * indicates Protected Zone wrecks
Page last updated: 01/11/19