Peter Christopher

Crusade to solve maritime mystery

By Miles Kemp - Adelaïde Now

Tall-ship enthusiast Peter Christopher wants to adapt the technology that found the wreck of the HMAS Sydney to solve the nation's greatest maritime mystery and at the same time rewrite Australian history.

In releasing new book Australian Shipwrecks, he has advocated a publicly funded search for the wreck of the famed Mahogany ship, which was discovered near Warrnambool in 1836 but by the end of that century had disappeared under sand dunes before its true significance could be studied.

Mr Christopher, whose day job is chief industrial officer of the Public Service Association, moonlights as a tall-ship and shipwreck expert and is the driving force behind a bid to rescue the City of Adelaide clipper ship which is facing destruction in Scotland.

Scientists believe the Mahogany ship was a Portuguese vessel reported lost in 1522, and if so would prove that the European nation first charted the southern coast of Australia.

Mr Christopher said charts purporting to be of the southern Australian coastline were published in 1536 in the Rotz Atlas, but their authenticity has long been questioned.