Photo Peter Ristevski
By Danny Lannen - Geelong Advertiser
Maritime archaeologist Peter Veth smiled as he described the shipwreck of the Clarence in its silent 160-year repose beneath the waves off St Leonards.
"It's not covered in gold but it's funky," Professor Veth said with a measure of satisfaction.
From the fixed barge on which he stood, the outline of the vessel was discernable through 5m of water, 300m off shore.
As far as stricken ship stories read, that of the colonial Clarence seems among the less dramatic and engaging.
The trading vessel hit a sandbar while transporting sheep from Melbourne to Hobart. All souls aboard survived. Even the 132 sheep were rescued.
But today's intersection of technology and tenacity with the passing of time is making the Clarence funky far beyond Australia's treacherous shores.
Prof Veth is director of a far-reaching archaeological excavation of the heritage-listed vessel, which has brought together experts from six countries under the leadership of the University of Western Australia.
Partners include Australian National University, Australian Institute for Marine Archaeology, heritage organisations and Australian state and territory museums.