Tuesday, March 04, 2008

 

History lies in depths of the bay

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Bayside Leader
By Jon Andrews
March 04, 2008


SHARP objects lurk in the depths of Bayside waters.

But they are not shark's teeth or coral reefs.

They are the metal and wooden remains of some of Australia's wonders of the maritime world.

Shipwrecks and submarines that were either scuttled or sank in Port Phillip Bay near Bayside beaches include the famous HMVS Cerberus and the moored J7 submarine.

There are other, less well-known wrecks from a list of almost 200 sunken ships and submarines in the bay, compiled by Heritage Victoria.

Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria treasurer Peter Taylor has studied these treasures for three decades.

He said the J7 submarine, now residing as a hulk in the water near Sandringham Yacht Club was an important piece of maritime history.

"The J7 submarine was a high-tech gift from England at the time," Mr Taylor said.

"But because of financial cutbacks, it had to be laid up after World War I.

"It is important to know we have a virtually intact submarine right here, in full view; one that was the nucleus of our navy at that time.

"This whole area is rich in shipwreck and maritime history."

He said the Cerberus, which sits off Half Moon Bay, could be on its last sea legs without money for urgent preservation works.

It is an integral part of Australia's naval history, having been the first modern, armoured battleship built in pre-federation days, he said. It was scuttled in 1926 to form a breakwater.

Heritage Victoria maritime archaeologist Cassandra Phillipou said people did not focus enough on cultural history.

"It is true to say there is less attention paid to maritime history than perhaps there should be," Ms Phillipou said.

"People pay a lot of attention to their natural environment, but less to their cultural heritage."

Heritage Victoria runs maritime courses for divers and non-divers. Details: www.heritage.vic.gov.au

Sunken ships and submarines in Port Phillip Bay include:
Sandringham/Brighton: wooden schooner Water Witch
Sandringham: Francis Henty, a cable layer
Sandringham/Brighton: Margaret Russell, a wooden schooner
Sandringham (approximately): trading ship Phoenician
Elwood: unknown wreck
Port Melbourne: (thought to be) ferry Nairana
Frankston: yacht Isis
Patterson River: Uralba, a wooden steamer
Rye: trading ship Eivion
Queenscliff: J3 and J5 submarines
Sorrento: Wauchope, a passenger ship
Williamstown:J4 submarine
SOURCE: Heritage Victoria and Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria


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