Australian National Maritime Museum archaeologists have almost certainly found the site of an intriguing 1829 shipwreck on the Great Barrier Reef some 20 km off the coast of North Queensland.
Scanning Flora Reef, 13 km east of the Frankland Islands off Cairns, they have found an anchor and other metal fittings which they consider probably mark the final resting place of HM Schooner Mermaid, a government vessel that ran aground and broke up on a voyage from Sydney to Port Raffles (in what is now the Northern Territory).
They hope to find further evidence in the next few days to confirm the vessel’s identity. 'This is an historically significant shipwreck, and there have been several attempts to locate where it happened – all of them unsuccessful so far,' the leader of the museum team, maritime archaeologist and curator Kieran Hosty, said today.
'There’s great excitement among the team at the strong prospect we’ve found it.'
The search team, which includes National Maritime Museum archaeologists and divers as well as scientists from James Cook University and the Museum of Tropical Queensland, set out from Cairns on New Year’s Day specifically to search for the Mermaid wreck site.
They targeted Flora Reef as earlier searches had discounted several other possible sites.