Hidden shipwrecks around Australia
According to Australian Georgraphic, there are approximately 8,000 registered shipwrecks around the coast of Australia. Some of these wrecks date back as early as the 1600’s, and only a quarter have actually been found.
Any shipwreck in Australia that is 75 years or older is protected by the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. Australia was the first nation in the world to enact legislation that protects shipwrecks from commercial salvage, while also recognising their cultural significance.
Today we’re rediscovering some of the most famous shipwrecks in Australian history.
As the flagship of the First Fleet, HMS Sirius was vital to the first settlers in NSW, Australia. The ship was solely relied on to deliver communications between England and Australia, so when it sank in 1790, the impact on new settlers at Norfolk Island and Sydney Cove was significant.
HMS Sirius hit a coral reef off Slaughter Bay near Norfolk Island. The crew managed to make it to Norfolk Island, where they were stranded for over 12 months.
Perhaps one of the most infamous shipwrecks in Australia history, the demise of the Batavia includes tales of mutiny and murder. The Dutch ship hit the Morning Reef in the Abrolhos Islands off WA. 40 of the 322 people on board drowned, but the tragedy did not stop there.
Once ashore, some crew left in search for water. Jeronimus Cornelisz was charged with taking care of the remaining survivors, but instead, he manipulated other crewman to systematically murder any individual he believed was a threat to his reign.
Initially, the men killed under the guise of theft or some other infraction, then the killing simply became a means to satisfy the boredom of Cornelisz and his crew.
The M24 was a Japanese midget submarine, which sank after leaving Sydney 65 years ago. Mystery surrounds the wreck, as it was discovered North of Sydney when it should have been in waters South of Port Hacking.
Nobody has worked out what happened to the crew onboard, or why 2 scuttling charges remained unexploded onboard. The wreck itself was discovered by amateur divers, and is protected under the NSW Heritage Act 1977 and the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.
The M24 is currently monitored by surveillance systems in the water and onshore.
The 1878 Loch Ard shipwreck is considered one of the most famous wrecks in Victorian and Australian history. The ship itself was hauling household and luxury commercial goods from the UK, as well as 54 crew and passengers, when it sank.
Severe mist blocked visibility for the crew, who could not alter course in time to avoid the cliffs of Mutton Bird Island. Loch Ard sank and only 2 people survived – 18 year old Eva Carmichael and crew member Tom Pearce.
The Loch Ard shipwreck is difficult to explore due to treacherous coastline. However, it can be accessed when the weather is good.
The Hive was a convict transport ship, which wrecked off mainland Australia in 1835. It was the only ship to actually wreck while carrying convicts to Australia. Only 1 individual died in the wreck, a boatswain who drowned attempting to save the life of a young crewman, who eventually made it to shore safely.
The location of the shipwreck is now known as ‘Wreck Bay’, as it is home to another 14 wrecked ships.
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