Australian Maritime Museum

Scientists to begin search for historic old shipwreck

By Darren Nelson

A scientific expedition from the Australian Maritime Museum (AMM) will leave Cairns tomorrow attempting to solve one of Queensland's greatest maritime mysteries. 

In 1829, a ship called 'The Mermaid' sank after striking an uncharted reef while carrying supplies from Sydney to the Northern Territory.

The wreck is historically significant as the ship was used by maritime explorer Phillip Parker King to map Australia's coast.

Project leader Kieran Hosty believes the treacherous reef that claimed the ship is located off the far north coast.

"We believe that reef lies off the Frankland Islands, south of Cairns," he said.

Over the next two weeks, 28 scientists will survey the area with underwater metal detectors.

"They're highly sensitive, they can find small amounts of iron," Mr Hosty said.

Mr Hosty believes the wreck will be found within two weeks.

"We'll pass that information on to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Museum of Tropical Queensland," he said.

"They're the two government agencies that look after historic shipwrecks on the Great Barrier Reef.

"They'll be developing management plans and so on to actually manage the wreck if there is significant material left behind."