There are about 324 shipwrecks which have been found in Victoria with many threatened by environmental and human interference. Heritage Victoria’s Maritime Heritage at Risk Program aims to identify and protect the most important 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.

The 2019/20 Annual Report includes two new wrecks on the Register (bringing the total to 25), details of a major maritime archaeology project and the extension of monitoring activities to deep-water wreck sites.

Photo: Amazon wreck; Warren Cook, Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club.

Key Activities: 2019/20

The key activities conducted in 2019/20 were:

Activity Site

Fieldwork

Barbara

 

Conservation

Amazon

S.S City of Launceston

Wreck Monitoring

Clarence

William Salthouse

Alert

Joanna

Mountain Maid

S.S Conside

Coogee

S.S City of Launceston

P.S Thistle

S.S Glenelg

Cheviot

S.S Cambridge

S.S Queensland

Amazon

Port Monitoring

Port Albert

Port Welshpool

Inspections

Barbara

Cheviot

S.S Glenelg

P.S Thistle

Shipwreck Risk Register Changes 2019/20:

During the year an assessment was made of five wrecks for inclusion in the Shipwreck Risk Register. These were new or existing wrecks where significant new information became available. Consequently, two additional wrecks, the Barbara and Lady Mary Pelham were included in the 2019/20 Register.

Fieldwork: Barbara Wreck Site

In February 2020 Heritage Victoria in partnership with Flinders University’s Maritime Archaeology Department and the Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria conducted a field school at the Barbara wreck site. The Barbara was built in Tasmania in 1841, used as a lime trader in Port Phillip Bay and sank in 1852 at Rye, Victoria. The wreck is a rare example of early Australian shipbuilding.

The fieldwork included wreck identification, surveys, excavation and underwater photogrammetry. Three small sections of the wreck were excavated, providing information on the vessel’s construction. Wood samples showed that the vessel was very well constructed using a variety of timbers sourced from different Australian states.

The field school provided detailed information on an early Victoria shipwreck as well as introducing students to the techniques of underwater archaeological survey and excavation.

Photo: Barbara Wreck; Flinders University.

Amazon wreck; Heritage Victoria

Photo: Amazon wreck; Heritage Victoria.

Conservation

Amazon

During the year, the Amazon shipwreck continued to undergo significant sand erosion with additional parts becoming exposed and subject to human interference. Conservation activities included collaboration with Parks Victoria to remove large sections of the wreck washed up on shore.

Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club continues to provide regular reports on the condition of the wreck. In addition, a local volunteer group (Amazon 1863 Project) has also monitored and increased public awareness of the site.

S.S City of Launceston

Ongoing Heritage Victoria site maintenance activities (provided by Professional Diving Services) include the installation of zinc anodes to stabilise the condition of the wreck.

Wreck Monitoring

The number of participants in the Community Shipwreck Monitoring Program increased from three to five in 2019/20. The number of wrecks monitored increased from five to 14.

The program is a partnership between Heritage Victoria and the community to monitor shipwrecks at risk of human Interference.  Any damaging activities including anchoring, fishing and diving are reported by participants and investigated by Heritage Victoria.

From January to July 2020 Queenscliff, Werribee, Port Albert and Port Welshpool Volunteer Coast Guards and Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club conducted 32 site visits. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, visits were severely limited after March 2020.

The program is provided with funding from the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Photo: Werribee Volunteer Coast Guard vessel

Photo: Werribee Volunteer Coast Guard Vessel.

Port Monitoring

The increase in recreational deep diving has led to more recent reports of looting of previously undisturbed deep-water shipwrecks in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia.

To address this issue, the Community Shipwreck Monitoring Program was expanded in 2019/20 to include Port Albert and Port Welshpool Volunteer Coast Guards. As well as visiting deep-water wreck sites, participants also monitor diving vessels operating from their port facilities.

Port monitoring commenced in July 2020.

Photo: S.S Glenelg; Unknown.

Photo: S.S Glenelg; Unknown.

Inspections

Four inspections and risk assessments were conducted during the year.

S.S Glenelg which has suffered from significant human interference was visited in July 2019. The condition of the wreck appears to be stable.

The Barbara was visited in conjunction with the Rye field school in February 2020. The wreck condition was relatively stable with signs of gradual deterioration.

Cheviot was visited in March 2020 with the wreck appearing to be in a stable condition with very little site disturbance. Some marine growth has changed since the previous inspection however, this is likely due to seasonal variations.

The visible remains of P.S Thistle consist of the paddle wheels, engine and large boiler tank. The wreck was visited in March 2020 when some erosion was detected exposing more components of the engine.

Shipwreck Risk Register

The following were identified to be the most significant Victorian shipwrecks at the highest risk in 2019/20.

Priority

Shipwreck

1

Amazon

2

P.S Clonmel*

3

S.S Conside

4

Loch Ard

5

Monumental City

6

Thistle

7

Barbara

8

Cerberus (H.M.V.S)*

9

Cheviot

10

S.S City of Launceston*

11

Clarence*

12

Nautilus

13

Countess of Hopetoun (H.M.V.S)

14

P.S Thistle

15

William Salthouse*

16

Alert*

17

S.S Cambridge

18

Carlisle

19

Lady Mary Pelham

20

M.V City of Rayville

21

T.S.S Coramba

22

S.S Glenelg*

23

S.S Gulf of Carpentaria

24

S.S Kanowna

25

S.S Queensland

Note: * indicates Protected Zone wrecks

Our Partners

Heritage Victoria would like to thank its partners for their contribution to the program in 2019/20.

ActivityPartner
Fieldwork Flinders University.
Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria.
Conservation Parks Victoria.
Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club.
Amazon 1863 Project.
Professional Diving Services.
Wreck MonitoringQueenscliff Volunteer Coast Guard (VF 9).
Werribee Volunteer Coast Guard (VF 10).
Port Albert Volunteer Coast Guard (VF 19).
Port Welshpool Volunteer Coast Guard (VF 20).
Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club.
Port MonitoringPort Albert Volunteer Coast Guard (VF 19).
Port Welshpool Volunteer Coast Guard (VF 20).
InspectionsFlinders University: Barbara wreck site.
FundingCommonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Maritime Heritage At Risk Program Annual Reports

Previous editions of the Annual Report are shown below.

Maritime Heritage at Risk Program Annual Report: 2018/19 (PDF, 508.2 KB)

The Amazon (1863)

Page last updated: 28/10/20