As an island state, Tasmania has always been dependent on shipping services, however, the waters around the State have proved treacherous to mariners. Since the wreck of the ship Sydney Cove in 1797, around 1,000 vessels of all sizes are known to have been lost in Tasmanian waters.
Although the locations of less than 10 per cent of these shipwrecks are presently known, these sites are an important part of Australia’s maritime heritage.
Shipwrecks in Tasmania
The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is the government authority responsible for the management of Tasmania’s historic shipwrecks. State and national legislation protects the remains of shipwrecks in Tasmanian waters including our marine reserves.
The new Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 protects historic wrecks and associated relics that are more than 75 years old and in Commonwealth waters, extending from below the low water mark to the edge of the continental shelf. Each of the states and the Northern Territory has complementary legislation, which protects historic shipwrecks in state waters, such as bays, harbours and rivers.
In Tasmania, the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995 applies to shipwrecks that lie within the State waters of Tasmania (harbours, enclosed bays, estuaries, rivers and lakes).
Members of the public are welcome to visit shipwrecks provided they do not collect artefacts or otherwise disturb or damage the sites.
For the reporting of sites, permits, advice or information concerning Tasmania's shipwrecks and other maritime heritage places, please contact PWS.
You can find information on all known shipwrecks in Australian waters at The Australian National Shipwreck Database (ANSDB).
The Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of underwater cultural heritage, and promotion of maritime archaeology conducted in accordance with internationally accepted ethical standards. More information is available at the AIMA website.