Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wreck site of Irish convict ship heritage listed

A piece of Irish-Australian convict history will be preserved for future generations after being placed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

The NSW Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly has announced that the wreck of the convict prison ship Hive was officially on the register. The announcement was made when he visited Wreck Bay (pictured above) in Booderee National Park, near Jervis Bay, south of Sydney.

The Hive ran aground in Wreck Bay in 1835 with 250 Irish convicts, guards, the ship’s crew, women, children and a cargo of coin worth £10,000 on board. A crew member, the Boatswain, drowned while convicts and passengers were being transported from the foundering ship to shore. The crew established a bush camp in the adjacent sand hills of Bherwerre Beach, in Wreck Bay, to await rescue while they stripped the vessel of anything they could salvage.

Mr Kelly said the wreck of the Hive had to be protected because it was the only known ship wrecked on mainland Australia while carrying convicts. “It has considerable heritage significance as it meets all seven Heritage Council criteria for listing on the State Heritage Register,” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly said the events surrounding the loss of the Hive demonstrate early contact with local Aboriginal communities.

“The co-operation and support of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community members and other Aboriginal peoples in assisting the survivors and in passing word to distant Sydney is a key element of the site’s significance,” the Minister said.

Because the Hive is buried under sand, an important sonar survey of the shipwreck will be undertaken by maritime archaeologists from the Heritage Branch and the Commonwealth’s GeoScience Australia, to determine the amount of buried hull timbers remaining.

Wreck Bay gained its name following the loss of the Hive and another 10 subsequent shipwrecks.

What else is on the State Heritage Register?

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