A massive salty relic of a bygone era a 1600kg anchor from a 19th century shipwreck will provide a poignant reminder of how times have changed when it is displayed in an upcoming National Museum exhibition.
The anchor, salvaged from the Nashwauk, which ran aground off South Australia on May 13, 1855, will be featured in the exhibition about the Irish in Australia, due to open on St Patrick's Day in March.
The ship had been carrying nearly 300 immigrants, 207 of whom were young Irish women who were travelling to Australia with government assistance to take up domestic work.
All survived the storm that forced them off the boat and on to shore, and many would go on to start new lives in South Australia.
Exhibition curator Richard Reid said yesterday the wrought-iron anchor, which will be displayed among hundreds of other items related to the long-term Irish presence in Australia, was a potent symbol of early assisted migration in Australia.
He said parts of the exhibition would serve to remind visitors that migration trends in Australia came about well before the post-war waves of Europeans which came to define multiculturalism in Australia.