Shipwrecks are a major part of our maritime heritage and have been described as time-capsules, reflecting particular moments of our past. Sometimes a shipwreck is significant for the story of the disaster, and the people lost or who survived the event. Other times a shipwreck is important for the material goods on board or the technology behind the vessel's construction and fit out. In many cases, more than one of these elements, and others not described here, are present to make a site significant.
Shipwreck trails exist in most States. The trails were established so that you can discover the stories about the local underwater maritime heritage and be informed about conditions, visibility, biology and your responsibility as a diver if diving on shipwreck sites. In some cases, shipwreck trails include instructions on appropriate ways to moor up near a site and on other restrictions if they exist, such as fishing near a site.
Interpretation material about near shore sites is often placed close to the wreck site on the shore or underwater near to the site. Information is also generally available in the forms of brochures or on websites. Enjoy exploring the trails in your area and discover Australia's rich shipwreck heritage.
New South Wales
The Heritage Office of the NSW Government has developed a number of trails, both underwater and shore based. The Department of Planning has a range of trails, including:
- Newcastle Breakwater Trail
- Pirate Point Trail
- Hastings River Wreck Trail (Port Macquarie)
- Terrigal (Central Coast)
- Gordan's and Long Bay Sydney
- Adelaide's Underwater Heritage Trail
- Wardang Island Maritime Heritage Trail
- Investigator Strait Shipwreck Trail
- Garden Island Ships' Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail
- Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Trail
- Port Elliot Maritime Heritage Trail
- Southern Ocean Shipwrecks Trail
- River Boat Trail
- Jervois Basin Ships' Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail
'Shipwrecks and Safe Havens ' is the name of the King Island Maritime Trail. King Island, lying on the western approaches to Bass Strait, has over 60 recorded shipwrecks as well as a rich maritime history. The trail consists of 12 signs, all accessible by road, at sites on the western and southern coasts of the island. Eight of these signs are about some of the major shipwrecks around the island and the other four present associated maritime places such as lighthouses and harbours. There is a booklet about the trail available at King Island.
The Victorian Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail includes wrecks protected under both Commonwealth and State legislation. The trail is interpreted through brochure, the heritage website and in situ interpretation. The history of each shipwreck site, its GPS location and diver information is available.
The Western Australian Museum's Department of Maritime Archaeology is responsible for the management of Western Australia's historic shipwrecks and the dissemination of information to gain the support of an informed public for historic shipwrecks as a cultural resource. A number of publications, reports and shipwreck trails to achieve this outcome are available for download from the Western Australian Museum's Department of Maritime Archaeology publications page .