Queensland shipwrecks expose their secrets

Grace Darling ballast mound with hull planking

By Tony Moore - Brisbane Times

Shipwreck experts have pinpointed the exact locations of 26 of Moreton Bay's 102 shipwrecks.

Until now, aside from visible wrecks, the location of many shipwrecks have been word of mouth among divers and boating families.

And those locations have shifted with the shifting sands and currents of Moreton Bay.

Queensland's Historic Shipwreck Survey is the first stage in a five-year study with the Queensland Museum trying to check locations of 1291 shipwrecks along the state's coast.

That number is likely to get to 1400 as the wreck locations are slowly confirmed.

However, throughout Queensland only 85 of the 1291 wrecks have been physically confirmed.

After 12 months of research and first-hand location spotting by divers from the Department of Environment and Resource Management and the Queensland Museum, the locations of just 26 wrecks around Moreton Bay have been tied to exact positions.

"I suspect by the end of the year that number will be up to around 30," said Paddy Waterson, the archaeologist leading the survey.

At the start of Queensland's Historic Shipwreck Survey, the locations of just six shipwrecks could be accurately shown on charts.

"We had six on Moreton Bay, and as it turned out some of those positions were not as exact as we'd hoped," Mr Waterson said.

"So we've gone from having six exact and seven "sharp" positions to now having 26 that we have exact positions for."

Mr Waterson said it has been harder work that he imagined.

"These wrecks come and go - in terms of visibility - because sand largely covers them up and then re-exposes them," he said.

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Moreton Bay Queensland Museum Mr Waterson Queensland's Historic Shipwreck