Historic Shipwrecks Program

The Australian Government, through the Historic Shipwrecks Program administers the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

The Department provides funding to state and territory agencies through a service level agreement to help protect shipwrecks and their relics and to promote better understanding of their stories.

The aims of the program are to:

  • conserve and protect historic shipwreck sites and associated material as a cultural resource of the nation
  • develop a comprehensive register of historic shipwrecks and associated material
  • obtain the support of an informed public for historic shipwrecks as a cultural resource
  • promote the commitment by government authorities to the protection and preservation of historic shipwrecks and associated material.

Activities undertaken within the Historic Shipwrecks Program include:

  • Researching and conserving shipwrecks and their artefacts. For example, preparing management plans for particular wreck sites, surveying and mapping areas known to have historic shipwrecks, studying the effects of tropical waters on wrecks and studying bottles collected from selected wrecks to determine their contents and historical significance.
  • Making shipwrecks information more accessible. For example developing a national database of known shipwreck sites, producing publications, presenting lectures, and creating physical and virtual reality shipwreck trails.
  • Training professional shipwreck inspectors.

Project summaries

Summaries are available for: