Historic shipwrecks

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Historic Shipwreck SS Alert
Wreckage from the schooner Alert washed up at Arthur Beach, Tasmania
Diver inspects one of the anchors at the Sirius site. Photo: Western Australian Museum
Diver inspects one of the anchors at the HMS Sirius site
Fraser Island. Photo: Paul Candlin.
Maheno shipwreck, Fraser Island
Historic Shipwreck SS Tasman
A diver swims over the shattered stern section of the SS Tasman
Diver with a commemorative marker on the Sirius site. Photo: Western Australian Museum.
Diver with a commemorative marker on the Sirius site
Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay. Photo: John Baker.
Anchor from the Marie Gabrielle (1869) on Wreck Beach, Victoria

Australia protects its shipwrecks and their associated relics that are older than 75 years through the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. The Historic Shipwrecks Act applies to Australian waters that extend from the low tide mark to the end of the continental shelf and is administered in collaboration between the Commonwealth and the States, Northern Territory and Norfolk Island. Some Australian shipwreck sites lie within protected or no-entry zones.

The Historic Shipwrecks Act is delivered through the Historic Shipwrecks Program. Its objectives are to research, explore, document and protect Australia's historic shipwreck heritage. Each State or Territory program offers different opportunities for public participation as do maritime archaeological volunteer associations that exist in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.


On the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Darwin, the Government has declared the World War Two United States Army Transport (USAT) vessel Don Isidro, as a protected historic shipwreck.
The only known wreck of a Japanese pearling mother-ship in Australian waters will be protected by a 200 hectare Protected Zone.
The shipwreck site of the 'lost' MV Limerick has been declared as a protected historic shipwreck under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

The Cleaner Environment Plan

The Australian Government's Plan for a Cleaner Environment - Clean Air, Clean Land, Clean Water and National Heritage​ - will help realise the vision of a great society by protecting and improving our environment for future generations.​