The Sydney Cove is the eighth oldest shipwreck located in Australian waters, having been lost at Preservation Island in the Furneaux Group on 9 February 1797 while en route from Calcutta to Port Jackson.
With the ship damaged in heavy weather, Captain Hamilton ran the Sydney Cove aground at a well-protected location, in relatively shallow water. This allowed a large proportion of the ship’s cargo to be salvaged by the crew in the weeks following the disaster.
The rescue of the many survivors of the shipwreck began with a longboat and its 17 crew heading to Port Jackson to seek help. The three survivors of that voyage and an arduous overland trek eventually reached Port Jackson and two ships were sent to Preservation Island to rescue the survivors and recover the salvaged cargo.
The vessel, after being heavily salvaged immediately following its wrecking, lay undisturbed for over 170 years prior to its rediscovery in 1977.
Between 1977 and 1980 a number of site surveys were carried out and a regular excavation program was begun in 1991 by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) in conjunction with the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery with funding from the State and Federal governments. This program led to the uncovering and recording of the remains of the Sydney Cove's lower hull timbers and associated ships fittings, as well as the recovery of a large quantity of artefact material.
A display featuring artefacts from the site may be seen at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston.