Saturday, November 13, 2004


Digging for the Mahogany Ship


Reporter: Samantha Stayner
Presenter: Steve Martin
Friday, 5 November 2004

Is it out there? A plethora of scientists, divers, fortune
hunters and the just plan curious continue to search
Warrnambool's coastline for the fabled shipwreck.

There's been a flurry of interest in the Mahogany Ship this week, with reports a Melbourne-based syndicate has recovered fragments of wood from deep under the sand dunes near Warrnambool.

The wood has been sent for testing in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, stories about the ship have again got tongues wagging around the region.Neil Martin is one local with many Mahogany Ship stories to tell, and he's involved in the latest search.

Neil is the community development officer with Framlingham Aboriginal Trust, and he spoke with Steve Martin on South West Drive.

"We had one of our big machines there, a 20 tonne excavator, and they worked for seven hours digging the hole," he told Steve.

"It would have been about ten metres down through the dunes to the old riverbed level.

"This current site is in sand dunes just west of Warrnambool, near the old mouth of the Merri River. Digging and searching in the area requires permission from the Framlingham Aboriginal Trust, ensuring any sacred sites and middens remain undisturbed.

Supervised by Framlingham staff, the searchers found several small wooden fragments about 150 millimetres long."They were obviously in a pretty poor condition," Neil told Steve Martin. "They'd been buried in the old creek bed area in the water over many, many years so they were pretty well decayed.

"In his former position as a planner with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Neil was responsible for approving and coordinating searches for the ship. Since then he's been involved in more than 30 Mahogany Ship digs.

"There are lot of very interested amateur people out there that are continuously looking around in the dunes," he told Steve."I've been involved now since the mid-90s, and every one that's found some timber has found the real Mahogany Ship!" he quipped.

"We had one quite scientific group from Western Australia associated with the university over there, that came over with a ground penetrating radar device, which they towed around on a small sled through the dunes."

"They got something unusual, not quite sure what it was. After about two or three days of digging we got a Vauxhal motor car!"

"Another chap dug a very deep hole, but then he reckoned he couldn't dig any deeper because he struck a meteorite!

"It's easy to be cynical about the Mahogany Ship mystery. But despite years of coordinating unsuccessful digs, Neil Martin remains open-minded.

"Who am I to say it's all legend? I honestly don't know. Certainly you have to give a lot of respect to the people that are doing all that hard work and the digging and the searching," he said.

"While we may sit back and be a bit cynical about it all, they put their all into it."

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?