Culture and heritage

Maritime heritage

Analyse cargo carried by coastal shipping

Shipping transport has been of immense importance to Australia

Ships carried materials, produce and people:

  • to Australia from overseas ports
  • to towns along the coast
  • to towns along coastal rivers
  • to towns along inland rivers.

Similarly they carried materials, produce and people:

  • from towns along inland rivers
  • from towns along coastal rivers
  • from towns along the coast
  • from Australia to overseas ports.

Almost any commodity required in a small regional town or any produce from the land required the city or overseas buyers, was carried at some stage on a ship. Until the development of good roads and an extensive railway network, sea transport was the key to growth and prosperity.

Coastal traders often carried general cargo but some specialised in particular products. The biggest single commodities that became the cargo of specialised ships were timber and coal. Of course fishing vessels were also a big part of the coastal scene.

Use the shipwreck database to analyse the range and volume of particular cargoes

Find out how shipwrecks help represent the numbers of ships in particular trades:

  • search the shipwreck database on this web site for cargoes such as timber
  • then search for coal, fish or other commodities.

You can also search on ‘Industry’ to find out how many were involved in the coastal trade.

Consider whether a large number of shipwrecks in a particular trade be more likely to

  • reflect the total number of ships in that trade, or
  • reflect the risks in carrying a particular type of cargo
Page last updated: 31 August 2012