Minister Vicky Darling
From Nine MSN
A shipwreck exposed when Cyclone Yasi hit north Queensland has been identified as the brigantine Belle, lost in 1880.
Months of detective work has confirmed the identify of the two-masted vessel, uncovered in Ramsay Bay, near Cardwell, after the monster cyclone hit in February.
The Belle was trying to recover cedar timber washed ashore from another wrecked vessel, the Merchant, when it sank.
"The identification is based on a match of records with the physical evidence - we are dealing with incomplete records and an incomplete wreck, so identification is based on probability," Environment Minister Vicky Darling said in a statement.
"But experts are satisfied that the Belle is the only likely contender out of the five vessels which are known to have been lost at Ramsay Bay."
Department of Environment Research Management's (DERM) principal heritage officer Paddy Waterson said historical records were obtained from England.
"The wreck was only partially exposed and the experts did not want to remove more sand unnecessarily in case it caused the remains to deteriorate more quickly," Mr Waterson said.
"Initial results were inconclusive so in June further investigations were conducted by archaeologists from DERM's Heritage Branch and the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
"The stern of the vessel had remained buried and it was important to examine that area to establish the length."
The Belle was built in 1865 in Canada and soon after made its way to Australia, where it operated out of Adelaide as a cargo ship.