Culture and heritage

Maritime heritage

Shipwrecks

Map - NSW maritime heritage sites

The coast and rivers of NSW are littered with historic shipwreck sites. The rugged shore, coastal reefs, capes, islands and dangerous river mouths led to nearly 1,800 shipping losses.

The number of losses is also a reflection of the high volume of shipping traffic along our coastline, inland rivers, from interstate and overseas.

The types of ships include huge square rigged sailing ships, tiny open cutters, passenger steamers, coasting vessels, barges, harbour vessels and even submarines!

Their details are often found in official registers, logs and newspapers but these records are sometimes not complete or have been lost. Archaeological study of the wreck sites, the cargo and of other artefacts helps to complete these records.

Unlike many other archaeological sites, we often know the exact moment in time that a shipwreck becomes part of the seafloor or river bed. This provides special opportunities for study and scientific examination. They are like museums beneath the sea.

Page last updated: 22 November 2012