Over 150 years ago, as gold fever swept Victoria, a wooden cargo ship called the Amazon left 1860s Melbourne to travel to Mauritius with a load of salted goods.
Two days later the Amazon hit a gale and was driven east through the Bass Strait for two days, the foresails splitting in the wind above the exhausted and terrified crew.
Finally at dawn on 16 December 1863, the storm-blown Amazon struck the shore at a deserted stretch of beach, falling apart with the force. Crew members were so exhausted it took them another half a day to leave the ship.
Minister of Planning Richard Wynne announced today that in late November 2018, archaeologists and students will undertake a major project to better understand the remains of the 154-year-old shipwreck, which can still be seen at low tide at Inverloch surf beach.
The joint archaeological project between Heritage Victoria and Flinders University will enlist the latest archaeological technologies to develop a comprehensive record of the Amazon.
The project will provide a unique opportunity to shed light about life on board the Amazon and understand the construction of vessels of this type from the mid-19th century, as well as plan for its future management.
Local community members are being urged not to disrupt the wreck before or during excavation. It is an offence under the Heritage Act to remove anything from a shipwreck site.
Opportunities for the community to be involved through public tours and specialist lectures will be announced closer to the project’s start.
As noted by Minister for Planning Richard Wynne
“This relic of Victorian history at one of the state’s popular holiday beaches offers archaeologists a chance to discover more about life for sailors and traders in Victoria’s 1860s.”
“As a rare wooden shipwreck, the Amazon presents a fascinating opportunity to learn about our past.”
As noted by Flinders University Associate Professor in Maritime Dr Archaeology Wendy Van Duivenvoorde
“Flinders University’s Maritime Archaeology Program is pleased to assist Heritage Victoria and the community in Inverloch with the research and management of such an important shipwreck.”
“This project gives our students the opportunity to work alongside heritage professionals, community members and history lovers.”