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Wreck Bay Convict shipwreck heritage listed

Minister for Planning, Tony KellyThe historic shipwreck Hive in Wreck Bay is to be protected for future generations, after being listed on the State Heritage Register.

Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, made the announcement during a visit to Wreck Bay in late March 2010, which gained its name following the loss of the Hive and another 10 subsequent shipwrecks.

“The remains of the Hive were located by the Heritage Branch in 1994 and is the only example of an early 1800’s convict prison ship wrecked in NSW and must therefore be protected,” the Minister said.

“It has considerable heritage significance as it meets all seven Heritage Council criteria for listing on the State Heritage Register.”

Hive Camp Wreck Bay NSWThe Hive was on its second voyage to Australia in 1835 when it ran aground with 250 Irish male prisoners, military guards of the 28th Regiment, ship’s crew, women, children and a cargo of coinage for the Government worth £10,000.

A crew member, the Boatswain, drowned while convicts and passengers were being transported from the foundering ship to shore.

The Hive site is unique in NSW as the only convict ship wrecked whilst transporting convicts to Sydney. The only two other convict transport shipwrecks in Australia are located in Tasmanian waters.

Wreck Bay NSWThe crew established a bush camp in the adjacent sand hills of Bherwerre Beach, in Wreck Bay, to await rescue while they stripped the vessel of anything they could salvage.

Mr Kelly said the events surrounding the loss of the Hive demonstrate early contact with local Aboriginal communities.

“The co-operation and support of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community members and other Aboriginal peoples in assisting the survivors and in passing word to distant Sydney is a key element of the site’s significance,” the Minister said.

“I am advised Federal Heritage Minister, Peter Garrett, has asked the Australian Heritage Council to add the Survivors’ Camp to its list of places to assess for possible inclusion on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

“The camp, which is on Commonwealth land, is a very important part of the Hive’s story and history, including the role the Aboriginal community played in helping to rescue the survivors of the wreck.”

Because the Hive is buried under sand, an important sonar survey of the shipwreck will be undertaken by maritime archaeologists from the Heritage Branch and the Commonwealth’s GeoScience Australia, to determine the amount of buried hull timbers remaining.

The archaeological remains are protected by the NSW Heritage Act and the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976, and there are severe penalties for disturbing the remains.

The wreck survey will be conducted as part of the State Maritime Archaeology Program and the NSW component of the National Historic Shipwreck Program. 

The Hive wreck site is representative of the period of convict transportation to Australia, and the interaction between survivors of shipwrecks and Aborigines.

The ship, its cargo, crew, military personnel and convicts were part of the later period of highly organised convict transportation. It survives as a rare example of a vessel engaged in this trade. The hull is the main surviving artefact and has the potential to provide information about the construction and fitting of one of His Majesty’s prison ships during this period.

Images Courtesy of Heritage Branch, Planning NSW

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Warrnambool

Flagstaff Hill overlooks Lady Bay at Warrnambool Victoria. The grounds has two small lighthouses which still guide ships into the bay. The upper lighthouse is open for inspection and contains a small but beautiful Chance Bros. lens.

Flagstaff Hill is an interactive Maritime Village and Museum that takes visitors on a rich journey of discovery through an early Australian coastal fishing port.

Built around the State Heritage listed Lady Bay Lighthouse precinct, overlooking Lady Bay Warrnambool, Flagstaff Hill holds the richest collection of Shipwreck artefacts in Australia.

Scattered throughout the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village are a range of trades that supported the rich maritime heritage of the late 1800’s.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village provides visitors and researchers with a variety of different ways to source information relating to the history of Warrnambool, the Great Ocean Road, and of course relating to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Villlage and the maritime history of the rugged Shipwreck Coast.

Comfort Inn Central Court Warrnambool offers a variety of accommodation options whether for a single individual or a large family. In the heart of the city, only 50 metres from the main cafe and shopping strip. Licensed restaurant onsite with quality service in a friendly country atmosphere. Heated swimming pool and garden area on first floor. The property is only a short drive to the historic Shipwreck Coast.

Diving attraction – the HMAS Canberra

The ex-HMAS Canberra dive site has proved extremely popular proved very popular with divers, all keen to investigate the first artificial reef created specifically for diving in Victoria.

Lying in 28 metres of water, the wreck allows divers to explore many sections of the ship, including flight decks, the bridge, engine rooms, galley and accommodation quarters. Many of the vessel’s original fixtures and fittings have been preserved.

The second of four FFG-7 Class Guided Missile Frigates built for the Royal Australian Navy by Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation Seattle, Washington, USA, the HMAS Canberra is 138.1 metres long and, when in service, was 39 metres high from the top of the mast to the tip of the keel.

The vessel hull is constructed of steel and the superstructure is aluminium alloy. Parts of the ship, including the gas-turbine engines, rudder, missile launcher, a section of the mast and propeller were removed by the Navy, in preparation for its use as a dive site.

HMAS Canberra was commissioned on 21 March 1981 and de-commissioned on 12 November 2005. She was scuttled on 4 October 2009 and over time will become a haven for marine life, transforming it into a spectacular reef.

The ex-HMAS Canberra dive site is located 3.7km offshore from Ocean Grove, 20 to 25 minutes by boat from Portsea or Queenscliff.

The site has been established specifically for diving and snorkelling and access is restricted to visitors participating in these activities only. Divers wishing to access the site must hold a current and industry recognised entry level qualification (equivalent to Australian Standard AS4005.1) with appropriate experience for the dive being undertaken.

There are four moorings and the site can accommodate approximately 60 divers at any one time. To gain access to the site, divers must either book a dive tour with a licensed tour operator or book a two hour timeslot on the public mooring through Parks Victoria. Bookings for the public mooring can be made at http://www.parkstay.vic.gov.au.