Saturday, November 13, 2004


Mahogany Ship team hits snag


By Matt Neal, The Standard
November 12, 2004

A lack of funds may sink a Melbourne syndicate's efforts to find the legendary Mahogany Ship.

Despite receiving good news that the wood sample it found near Levy's Point did not originate from an Australian native, the project could hit a snag if further testing suggests an archaeological dig of the area is warranted.

Lawyer Mark Rawson, who is leading the team of amateur treasure hunters, said he had already spent $3500 on searching Warrnambool's dunes for the fabled vessel.

Mr Rawson said Heritage Victoria would want him to resume his excavations if an analysis of the red wood sample's age suggested an ancient object lay beneath the sands of Levy's Point.

"But I am required to have a qualified archaeologist at the site and that costs big money - about $1000 a day," he said.

"The site would become an official one and the work would have to be carried out as thoroughly as if it was an archaeological dig in Egypt or some other ancient place.

"That would cost me big money and I have already spent $3500 in the last few months.

"There's no financial benefit in it for me, no matter what I find."

He said most of the 20-metre dune beneath which the wood was unearthed on October 21 would have to be levelled under government supervision and the sand placed where it would not be blown back over the dig.

Mahogany Ship Committee chairman Pat Connelly said if a foreign vessel was found at Levy's Point, international shipwreck laws ruled the wreck would belong to its country of origin.

Should tests indicate an official dig was warranted, Mr Connelly said money should be put up to fund it.

"If we find it's some exotic timber, will Warrnambool (City Council) finance it?" he asked, adding maybe the Government would need to re-examine its $250,000 Mahogany Ship bounty from the '90s.

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