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Protection given to three shipwrecks in New South Wales

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NEWS RELEASE The Hon Wendy Fatin MR Minister for the Arts and Territories


Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women

F e b r u a r y 6 , 1 9 9 2


The remains of three shipwrecks in New South Wales are to be protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 following an announcement today by the Federal Minister for the Arts and Territories, Wendy Fatin.

■ Protection of the Walter Hood, the Queen of Nations and the Yarra Yarra is necessary to ensure that the public and maritime archaeologists have the opportunity to enjoy and study the remains of these wrecks. The declaration ensures that the historic and cultural significance of these sites will not be

lost", Ms Fatin said.

The Walter Hood was a wooden clipper ship of 937 tons, built in Aberdeen in 1852 by Walter Hood, a noted ship builder. It was the largest and most advanced sailing vessel to have been built up to that time at Aberdeen and was used by the White Star Line

in trade between England, Australia and China. It was a well known and frequent visitor to Sydney for seventeen years before it was wrecked in 1870. It was driven onto a reef off Wreck Bay in a violent storm on 26 April 1870. It was broken up over a period of four days and twelve lives were lost.

The Queen of Nations was another wooden clipper ship, of 827 tons, built by Walter Hood at Aberdeen in 1861. It traded for the White Star Line between England, Australia and China for twenty years before being wrecked on a low reef north of Wollongong. The wrecking occurred during moderate weather and

is blamed on the drunken state of the Captain and Mate. It was the third vessel lost by the Line in thirty years of sailing. Many residents of Wollongong visited the wreck site and collected large quantities of flotsam, for which many were .

charged and fined.

The Yarra Yarra, an iron paddle steamer of 555 tons, entered the intercolonial passenger and cargo routes in 1852, providing services over the next twenty-two years between Launceston, Melbourne, Sydney, Grafton, Brisbane and Rockhampton. In 1874

it was converted to a collier, carrying coal from Newcastle to Sydney. On 14 July 1877 the Yarra Yarra left Newcastle with 50 0 tons of coal for Sydney. A gale blew up and as the ship tried

to return to the safety of Newcastle Harbour it sank, taking all eighteen on board to the bottom. Considerable criticism was levelled at the shore-based lifeboat committee for failing to assist during the disaster and as a result lifeboat procedures were reorganised. Another result of the tragedy was that the

■Royal Shipwreck Relief Society of New South Wales was established to assist the families of those drowned at sea and to relieve crews of vessels wrecked in New South Wales waters.

The wrecks will now be protected by the provisions of section 5 of the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.'

These measures do not prohibit diving on the wreck sites. However, under the terms of the declaration, interference with the wrecks or removal of any item from the sites can attract fines of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to five years, or


Anyone in possession of relics from the wrecks is required to advise the Conanonwea1th Minister within 30 days of details of any relics previously removed from either of the wreck sites.

Enquiries concerning the wrecks may be directed to:

The Director Department of Planning GPO Box 3927 Sydney NSW 2001

(telephone 02-3912000)

Contact: Wayne Cassidy DASET Ruth Dewsbury Minister's Office (06) 274 1315 (02) 277 7360