Ardtornish Estate, the Hidden Gem of the Florey Electorate

Like many other students on this blog, this semester I am undertaking a directed study. The idea of undertaking a project with minimal supervision was daunting! Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I headed to meet Lea Crosby, a prominent member of the Florey district chambers, and a well-known person in the district.

Upon meeting Lea, my fears towards the project subsided, and reality kicked in. I was soon in  research mode, and handed six different historical sites with folders full of information. However, one stood out more than the rest, Ardtornish Estate. To Lea and her colleagues, this place is a mystery. Found through a colleague attending an open house inspection at 9 Quintal Avenue, Modbury (it could be yours for $690,000 – $720,000!), it is only by chance that the Ardtornish Estate is known to them.

The front facing of Ardtornish Estate, Modbury. South Australia (2013). Photo courtesy of Century 21, Modbury.

Upon initial investigation, this grand house is a prominent feature in the Modbury district. In fact, this particular house is one of the first, and largest, estates to be established in the area. Built in 1843, the homestead was built on approximately 80 acres by Angus MacLaine and used as a cattle farm.

You may at this point be thinking, Ardtornish estate? Isn’t that in Scotland? How did it get that name? The answers to these questions, and the people involved will all be revealed in blog #2. Stay tuned!

Tristan Grainger

What’s really wrong with the National History Curriculum?

Is anybody happy?

Prime minister Tony Abbott drew attention to his concerns about our national history curriculum in the last week of his election campaign, stating that it focused too much on trade unionism, neglected to reference the work of great coalition leaders and, perhaps most tellingly, didn’t place enough emphasis on the heritage of western civilization.  Commentators have been quick to interpret this last point as criticism for the level of Indigenous history content within the curriculum, and while it is true that this type of sentiment is not an unusual angle for conservative politicians to take (John Howard banged the same drum last year in his lecture to the Sir Paul Hasluck Foundation), you could be forgiven for thinking that the Right are the only ones with an axe to grind about how young Australians are taught to understand their history and heritage.

On the other hand, you might not be surprised to learn that criticism for the curriculum has been fielded from other quarters.

In 2011, Helen Moran, Indigenous Co-chair of the National Sorry Day Committee labelled the draft curriculum as “clumsy” and “insensitive and insulting”.  She claimed that it didn’t “have enough content regarding Aboriginal history” and more specifically explained that there was inadequate discussion surrounding the Stolen Generations and removal policies (Moran 2011).  These sentiments were supported by the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEU 2011), and some academics concluded that challenges to Eurocentric perspectives within the curriculum were at best ‘rhetorical’ (see Salter 2010).
But is content the real problem with our national history curriculum?

How did we get a national history curriculum, and what is it supposed to do?

To better understand what all the fuss is about, it is worth taking the time to look at the political context in which the curriculum was developed.

In 2006 the Australian History Summit was convened in order to draft a national curriculum for the teaching of history in response to the perception that Australian school students lacked a basic knowledge of critical historic events.  Instigated by the Howard Liberal government which was subsequently defeated in the 2007 election, the outcome of this process, namely the Guide to the Teaching of Australian History in Years 9 and 10 (Australian Government 2007) was discarded by the Labor government in 2008, and Stuart Macintyre was appointed to the newly established National Curriculum Board, the remit of which was to produce framing documents for the development of a new national history curriculum.  In December of that year the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians was approved by all states and territories, and in 2009 the Board released the Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History.  It is these two documents that ultimately guided the content of the existing version of the National History Curriculum.

What is significant is that the change in government is believed to be clearly reflected in the socio-political perspective of these documents.  Whilst conservative governments have sought to enforce the teaching of a version of Australian history centred around Western civilisation, Christianity and Australia’s Anglo-Celtic heritage, Labor’s curriculum is seen to have a distinctly ‘multicultural’ flavour.

The prevailing rationale behind the existing curriculum is that students will be better equipped to live in today’s globalised world if they can understand the history of their country within an international context (ACARA 2013).  In keeping with the principles outlined within the Melbourne Declaration, it has three main foci: understanding the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, appreciating Australia’s position in the Asia-Pacific region and developing awareness of global interrelationships. 

Although ACARA’s ‘trinity’ of socially and politically expedient themes seems somewhat incongruous, the objectives of the curriculum are at least admirable.  It aims to ensure that students develop not only an interest in ‘historical study’, but also an appreciation of the ‘forces that shape societies’, an understanding of the ‘use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability’ and, finally, the ‘capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication’ (ACARA 2013).  If these aims are achieved, students should, at the very least, emerge from school with the ability to question the historical narratives they are presented with, and appreciate that our understanding of history and heritage is value-based, never truly objective, often contentious, and always open to interpretation.  If this is the case, the actual content of the curriculum becomes less problematic.

So what is the real problem?

Are the concerns about how the curriculum has been politicised really valid?  Perhaps not.   The reality is that within the 222 page curriculum document there is scope for teaching just about anything you want.  The curriculum is structured in such a way that only minimal time is intended to be devoted to teaching an historical overview and the remainder is comprised of elective studies of particular societies, events, movements or developments.  Teachers must select their own historical examples to demonstrate the themes they are trying to teach.

Therefore, with the left wing/right wing debate aside, the real problem with the teaching of history in Australian schools today comes down to the question of resourcing.

One of the major concerns levelled at the curriculum with respect to Indigenous history, questions how teachers will be equipped to implement it (for example, see Harris-Hart 2009, Henderson 2008, Salter 2010).  As Anna Clark explained in History’s Children: History Wars in the Classroom (Clark 2008), ‘some teachers feel reluctant to touch on aspects of Indigenous history because they’re not comfortable speaking about someone else’s experience’.  Similarly, as educator Chris Sarra points out, the real problem is how teachers deliver what is in the curriculum (Sarra 2010).  Sarra also concludes, however, that the new curriculum provides the scope and mechanism for the involvement of local Indigenous communities in the teaching of history.

The teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is undeniably a critical part of our curriculum. Neglecting to address these topics within primary and secondary schools potentially leads to indifference, and this might just be one of the greatest threats that faces Indigenous history and heritage today.  The real challenge then is to find ways to firstly support teaching staff in the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, and secondly develop opportunities for the involvement and participation of Indigenous communities in the teaching of their own history.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority  (ACARA)  2013   The Australian Curriculum: History.  Version 5.1 dated Monday, 5 August 2013.  Retrieved 1/9/2013 from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Download/.

Australian Government  2007  Guide to the Teaching of Australian History in Years 9 and 10.  Canberra: Australian Government.

Clark, A.  2008   History’s Children: History Wars in the Classroom.  Sydney: University of New South Wales.

Harris-Hart, C.  2009  The national history curriculum: tragedy or triumph?  Draft paper presented at the Biennial Australian Curriculum Studies Conference Hotel Realm, Canberra, October 2-4, 2009.  Retrieved 4/9/2013 from http://www.historyteacher.org.au/htdocs/national_curriculum/ACSA%202009%20Paper%20Catherine%20Harris%20Hart.pdf.

Henderson, D.  2008  The apology, the Aboriginal dimension of Australian history and a national history curriculum: beginning a new chapter?  QHistory, December. pp. 8-22. Retrieved 1/9/2013 from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/17843/1/17843.pdf.

Howard, J.  2012  Sir Paul Hasluck Foundation Inaugural Lecture,  Winthrop Hall, The University of Western Australia, 27 September 2012.  Retrieved 11/9/2013 from http://resources.news.com.au/files/2012/09/27/1226482/801957-sir-paul-hasluck-foundation-inaugural-lecture.pdf.

Independent Education Union  2011  National Curriculum Needs to Tell the Real Story of Australia’s Indigenous History.  Media Release – Monday 26 September 2011.  Retrieved 1/9/2013 from http://www.ieu.org.au/index.php/tista-branch/item/273-national-curriculum-needs-to-tell-the-real-story-of-australia-s-indigenous-history.

Moran, H.  2011  Aboriginal History Lost in New School Curriculum – Interview with Simon Santow, ABC.  Retrieved 10/9/2013 from http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3324015.htm.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs  2008  Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.  Retrieved 10/9/2013 from http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf.

National Curriculum Board  2009  Shape of the Australian Curriculum.  Retrieved 4/9/2013 from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Australian_Curriculum_-_History.pdf.

Salter, P.  2010  The new national history curriculum: we can’t change history…can we?  Proceedings of the 2010 Australian Teacher Education Association Conference, 4-7 July 2010, pp.1-11.  Townsville, QLD: Australian Teacher Education Association.

Sarra, C.  2010  Response to Indigenous Perspectives in ACARA National Curriculum – Audio Interview.  Retrieved 10/9/2012 from http://www.mediafire.com/play/yeq53jzzm2z/CHRIS_SARRA_Curriculum_EDIT.mp3.

Maritime archaeologist, you say? You just strap on a tank and mask don’t you?

Introduction

When I asked my mum and dad to picture a maritime archaeologist, they immediately described a diver fluttering about underwater searching for lost relics on the seafloor (Figure 1). To those in the know, the archaeologist/diver would resemble something quite different; an individual meticulously excavating and recording a submerged archaeological site. But can the definition of a maritime archaeologist be as simple as a diver that straps a tank (or two) to their back?  Before any work underwater is carried out, the type of diving apparatus that will be used must be taken into consideration. Without the diving component archaeology cannot be conducted underwater. I will discuss the different types of diving equipment necessary to carry out a pre-disturbance survey and excavation in an occupational setting, but will limit the topic to standard compressed air diving. Other diving classifications such as NITROX and mixed-gas diving can be used, but are limited to trained professionals and the offshore oil and gas industry. The most common type of diving in maritime archaeology is compressed air diving.

Figure 1. A SCUBA diver fluttering about underwater (author)

Figure 1. A SCUBA diver fluttering about underwater (author)

Diving apparatus: SCUBA & SSBA

What is the difference between SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) and SSBA (Surface Supply Breathing Apparatus)? Apart from both acronyms containing the words ‘Breathing Apparatus’, the difference lies with the first two words, ‘Self Contained’ and ‘Surface Supply’. SCUBA is a self-contained unit in which the diver relies on a tank to deliver compressed air through a mouthpiece (Figure 2). Commercially developed in the 1950s by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan, SCUBA allowed people to explore the underwater world and by doing so, paved the way for maritime archaeology to develop into the discipline it is today (Green 1994: 2–4; Hosty and Stuart 2001: 5; Muckelroy 1978: 10–22).

Figure 2. Left, A maritime archaeologist using SCUBA; Right, SSBA diver entering the water. Notice attached air hose (Images courtesy of Donald A. Frey, Tufan Turanli, and Maddy Fowler)

Figure 2. Left, A maritime archaeologist using SCUBA; Right, SSBA diver entering the water. Notice attached air hose (Images courtesy of Donald A. Frey, Tufan Turanli, and Maddy Fowler)

SSBA is also a compressed air system, but exhibits slightly different features (Figure 2). The diver receives air from the surface from either a bank of compressed air tanks or an air compressor. The air is usually breathed through an AGA mask, band mask, or hard hat (Figure 3). A hard hat is a solid, one-piece helmet, usually associated with underwater construction. It provides head protection for the diver from falling debris. A band mask is made up of a solid face plate similar to the hard hat, but has a soft neoprene hood. An AGA mask is a full face mask secured to the diver’s head with a series of straps. SSBA can trace its origins back to early 19th century hard hat diving, and was an essential element of what is regarded as the first maritime archaeology survey—an investigation of crannogs in Loch Ness, Scotland in 1908 (Muckelroy 1978: 10, 12).

Different diving masks

Figure 3. Left Diver wearing a Gorski hard hat; Centre A band mask with soft neoprene hood; Right Diver wearing an Aga mask (Images courtesy of Rhiannon Phillips, Submarine Manufacturing and Products, and Maddy Fowler)

Which diving apparatus for what underwater method?

Different diving equipment will have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type and extent of tasks that need to be performed. From my experience, SCUBA provides the freedom to cover a large area, as would be needed to conduct a pre-disturbance survey. The objective of a pre-disturbance survey is to survey and record a site as it appears on the seabed (Green 2004: 88; Tripathi 2005: 6). For more information on pre-disturbance survey methods see Lauren Davison’s blog post.

A diver with a ‘Self Contained’ breathing unit is free to travel as far as they want, subject to certain physiological and environmental restrictions. These include the strength of currents and amount of compressed air available. SSBA, by contrast, is restricted by the length of the equipment’s umbilical (which contains the air hose, communications link, etc.). Planning helps, but it is difficult to know how much umbilical is needed when the extent of the site is unknown. Other considerations for occupational diving include:

  • Environmental conditions (visibility, entrapment, water temperature, underwater terrain)
  • Hyperbaric/physiological (depth, frequency, duration, prior fitness)
  • Associated activity (manual handling, boat handling, dive platforms)
  • Other (dangerous marine animals, shipping movements)

Unfortunately, not all forms of diving equipment are affordable and/or available. In instances where only SCUBA equipment is available, the archaeology fieldwork plan will need to be adjusted to correspond to SCUBA’s limitations. Some of these limitations include the number of divers needed to conduct fieldwork, dive duration, and surface intervals between dives.

SSBA is used if the equipment is available and/or required under Australia’s Occupational Diving Standard (AS/NZS2299.1). This standard requires the use of SSBA when a dive project includes the use of surface machinery that is not under direct control of one or more divers, such as the water dredge or airlift. Both the water dredge and airlift are designed to remove spoil from the area of excavation and deposit it away from the site. Both have their advantages and disadvantages; for a discussion of this topic see Green (2004), and for more details about underwater excavation methods see Marc Brown’s blog post.

Maritime archaeology projects within Australia that involve commercial interests and the use of equipment such as dredges must utilise SSBA (Figure 4). Maritime archaeologists must hold an accreditation with the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) to dive using SSBA. SSBA must also be used where participating divers undergo physical exertion. Projects reliant on SSBA must consider such factors as the use of a compressor, length of SSBA umbilicals, available bottom time, and the need for fuel and qualified personnel (a team of five is required for a two person SSBA dive team).

During each diving day both SSBA and SCUBA equipment must be set up, broken down, and tested on a daily basis. The equipment must also be maintained, usually on an annual basis. This is costly in terms of time and money, particularly for projects that are operating on a tight schedule and budget. Ultimately, both SCUBA and SSBA enable maritime archaeologists to undertake any underwater task, provided it meets occupational standards.

Figure 4. ADAS Part 2 divers excavating with a dredge (Image courtesy of Andy Viduka).

Figure 4. ADAS Part 2 divers excavating with a dredge (Image courtesy of Andy Viduka)

Conclusion

Before commencing archaeological investigations underwater, it is important to consider the apparatus best suited for the job and whether it complies with occupational standards. Because every site is different, dive equipment and planning will undoubtedly vary. Limited access to diving equipment may force a project to work with what is available and plan diving operations accordingly. With these factors in mind, the question remains: is a maritime archaeologist simply a mask and a tank? The answer is no, as there is a lot more to conducting maritime archaeology than just fluttering about underwater.

References

Akal, Tuncay

2008      Surveillance and Protection of Underwater Archaeological Sites: Sea Guard. Protecting Underwater Archaeology, Press Room. Electronic document, http://www.acoustics.org/press/155th/akal.htm, accessed 15 October 2013.

Green, Jeremy

2004      Maritime Archaeology: A Technical Handbook, Second Edition. Elsevier Academic Press, USA.

Hosty, Kieran and Iain Stuart

1994      Maritime Archaeology over the last twenty years. In Maritime Archaeology in Australia: A Reader, edited by Mark Staniforth and Michael Hyde, pp.5-12. Southern Archaeology, South Australia.

Muckelroy, Keith

1978      Maritime Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Submarine Manufacturing and Products

Kirby Morgan 18B Band Mask. Electronic document, http://www.smp-ltd.co.uk/product/productid/193/productname/Kirby-Morgan-18B-Band-Masks/, accessed 3 October 2013.

Tripathi, Alok

2005      Marine Archaeology (Recent Advances). Agam Kala Prakashan, India.

A First at the Freemasons Hall

By Sarah-Anne Martin

This semester I have had the privilege of working on a Directed Study project with Curator Murray Olsson and the volunteers at the Adelaide Masonic Centre Museum, which can be found within the Freemasons Hall, 254 North Terrace, Adelaide. I have been volunteering on and off at the museum for well over a year now and have had some fantastic opportunities presented to me as a result. From the outset one might be forgiven for feeling somewhat intimidated by the Freemasons Hall, after all it is a very large building which belongs to what is considered to be a very exclusive and secretive group: The Freemasons. However, if you ever get the chance to take a tour of the Freemasons Hall you will see that this feeling is misplaced, as the building alone is incredible but the people are also friendly and happy to answer any questions you have about their organization.

grand lodge

Figure 1. Adelaide Freemasons Hall (Source: Freemasons South Australia and Northern Territory)

The museum, found on the ground floor of Freemasons Hall, is packed to the brim with memorabilia and artefacts from the practice of Freemasonry in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Up until recently the museum did not have an official program for cataloguing its collections, apart from excel spreadsheets, but after receiving a grant from History SA the museum has begun to embark on the colossal task of setting up its catalogue. This is where I come in. Having been the person to submit the grant and begin the process I have been set the task of cataloguing a collection under the direction of the curator Murray Olsson, and using the things I learn as a basis for future cataloging projects. This is no small feat and is a task that has been a tremendous learning opportunity for me.

My Directed Study project focuses on cataloguing the Museum’s collection of Past Masters Jewels, which consists of over 300 individual objects. The Past Masters Jewels collection provides a record of the men who have served the organization as a Master in one of the many lodges in South Australia. Each Past Masters Jewel has a unique inscription stating the name of the recipient and the date of service, providing a very clear historical record of each jewel. In addition, the collection holds jewels from as early as the late 1800s, many of which are gold, making the collection highly significant and a priority for conservation, protection and maintenance. It is certainly a privilege to be working with such an amazing collection and to gain further insight into a very historically significant organization.

pm jewels

Figure 2. A small part of the Past Masters Jewel Collection at Adelaide Masonic Centre Museum.

The Bootu Creek Manganese Mine Decision.

In August of 2013 a Northern Territory court found OM Manganese guilty of the desecration of an Indigenous sacred site. OM Manganese runs the Bootu Creek mine, north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. This was the first time that the charge of desecration had been successfully prosecuted in an Australian court, and the decision will be the subject of debate for a long time to come.

One aspect that particularly struck me was that Magistrate Sue Oliver said in her decision that “In my view the offence created by section 35 of desecration of a sacred site was intended to go to the heart of what was recognised by the legislation, that is, the sacred or spiritual nature of a site. If that character should be insulted, diminished or removed, it may interfere with or cause to be lost, the belief systems associated with a site including damaging the sacredness of the site.” (Oliver 2013) This means that intent to desecrate a site is not necessary to be found guilty if, by their actions, the party had damaged the spiritual or sacred meaning of the site.

This has huge implications for the heritage industry. Usually criminal actions are at least partially defined by the intent to commit a criminal act. Magistrate Oliver found that in the case of desecration intent is not a factor, only results. Heritage professionals now have duty to protect not only the physical aspects of a site, but also the sacred/spiritual aspects of the landscape from detrimental activities.

During the course of the Practicum that I have been undertaking at Australian Cultural Heritage management Pty Ltd it has become apparent that changes in heritage legislation and case law has a profound impact on how archaeologists work. Currently most archaeological work in South Australia and Western Australia is limited to survey and assessment, as this is all that the law requires. This decision has the potential to cause both governments and mining companies to dramatically revise the role of archaeology in their decision making process, and the place of Traditional Owners in decisions about sacred sites.

Map showing the location of the Bootu Creek Mine http://www.resourcesroadhouse.com.au/_blog/Resources_Roadhouse/post/Bligh_Resources_to_acquire_more_NT_ground/

The Domestic life: The Lady Alice Mine

Image

It is nearing the end of the semester and the blog posts are drawing to an end, but luckily this is not the last. The Lady Alice Mine has opened up my eyes to the life of gold mining in South Australia. While you may not know much about this, or be aware that South Australia had an active gold mining culture (although it was certainly not as successful as that in neighbouring Victoria), South Australian mining was still a successful industry.  I have been extremely lucky to have been able to do some study on this site. The heritage of the area is vast in nature and it would be great if more could be done on this site in order to find out more about not only Hamlins Gully but also about the Barossa Goldfields in general. It would be great if the history of South Australia’s mining culture could be shared with more than just the locals of the area.

The second semester’s Directed Study has focused on the domestic life of the Lady Alice, which is still largely unknown. There are a few photographs and paintings that show the different aspects of the Lady Alice Mine. These show different angles of the mine and how it once operated. They also shed some light on how the miners lived and worked. Nevertheless they give us some insight into the conditions and, having visited the site, allow for the mine to be put into perspective. From these photographs and paintings we are able to see that they miners lived in canvas tents, some of which had brick chimneys at one end. However, as the tents are transportable and were most probably taken with the miners when they left, there is no evidence supporting the photographs and paintings. It would be great if there was more photographic and written evidence of this time, but unfortunately the mine was poorly recorded and only some records survive, which can be accessed at the State Library of South Australia. There is not much information about the domestic life of the mine in these records, as lives were not documented as we’re able to do today. It’s fun to imagine what, if people of the 1800s had all the equipment that we do today to document daily life, we could have learnt.

Image

(The Globe INN)

When walking through the Lady Alice Mine area it becomes evident how the miners once lived and worked. There are few ruins and even less surface evidence of what types of dwellings they lived in. There are ruins of chimney butts that stand by themselves with no other material. Standing at the edge of a site and imaging what once stood by the sides of the chimneys. It has been an incredible experience to be able to walk through the area and imagine the fields being littered with tents and makeshift dwellings. Unfortunately, I do not have the authority to share the paintings or the photographs as they are not readily available on the internet. One of the two photos that I have shared today is a photograph I took myself and the other was available through http://www.trove.nla.gov.au. Anyway, I must stop imagining all of this and get back to writing my report. Please stay posted for my last post, which will be in just a few weeks.

Romance, scandal and maritime archaeology in Victoria

During my directed study, I’ve been researching 18 shipwrecks lying in Victorian state waters. I’ve researched the history of shipwreck significance, worked out how shipwreck significance is assessed and begun the process of assessing significance for some of those wrecks.

Some shipwrecks have turned out to be significant because of the events surrounding their working lives, some because of the results of the studies of archaeologists examining their wrecks. Either way the waters of Port Phillip and the surrounding Victorian coastline shelter some very interesting shipwrecks.

Here’s just a taste:

Loch Ard is one of the most famous shipwrecks in Victoria. A three-masted square-rigged iron sailing ship, Loch Ard left England on 2 March 1878 with a general cargo of luxury items and industrial loads of railway iron and cement. On 1 June, the ship was only a day or two out from Melbourne near Cape Otway when heavy fog descended.

Loch Ard. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

Loch Ard. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

When the fog lifted, the Captain, instead of clear ocean and a distant shoreline, was faced with sheer cliffs and breaking waves. I can’t even begin to imagine what that felt like. The ship hit the reef just off Mutton Bird Island and large waves caused the masts and rigging to crash down so the lifeboats couldn’t be launched successfully. Tom Pearce, one of the crew, and passenger Eva Carmichael were the only two on board who survived (Lomdahl 1992).

Just five bodies (out of 47) were ever recovered. Eva lost all her immediate family and would have died herself if Tom Pearce hadn’t come to her rescue. If life were a Hollywood movie, Eva and Tom, both eighteen, would have sailed happily off into the sunset. Society of the day certainly thought they should at least get married since they had spent time alone, drinking brandy before Tom went to find help (ignoring the fact it was dark, cold and Tom needed to catch his breath before attempting to climb the cliffs). But it wasn’t Hollywood and instead Eva went back to Ireland and married a Captain Townsend while Tom went back to the sea. Ironically, Eva and her husband moved to the Irish coast where she was called on to help shipwreck survivors … one of whom (apparently) turned out to be Tom Pearce (The Argus 16 June 1934). This is a Hollywood script just crying out to be written.

The Loch Ard Peacock. Image courtesy Victorian Collections.

Image courtesy Victorian Collections.

A few days after the wreck, a crate containing a large ceramic peacock was washed ashore in Loch Ard Gorge. The Minton Loch Ard Peacock is one of the more famous pieces of cargo saved from the wreck. The porcelain statue, valued at over $4 million, is one of only nine still existing worldwide and was arriving in Australia to be displayed at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. It finally got its chance to shine at the 1988 Brisbane World Expo. The peacock is currently on display at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warnambool, Victoria.

Then there’s Clarence, a small coastal wooden sailing ship, indistinguishable from many vessels plying their trade around the southern coast of Australia during the 1840s and 1850s. Clarence sailing past would have been a bit like watching a semi-trailer driving down the highway. You might idly wonder what it was carrying before it disappeared from view; then again you might not. However, Clarence’s brief and unglamorous career as a small trading schooner belies its subsequent importance to archaeological and historical studies of undocumented Australian shipbuilding (Harvey 1989).

Clarence line drawing. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

Clarence line drawing. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

I’m sure Clarence’s builders from the Williams River in NSW never imagined their work would be so scrutinised. Remember people, whatever you build today may be examined in 200 years by an archaeologist trying to piece together your work … make sure it’s good (or if you want to have some fun, make it cryptic)!

Clarence is currently the subject of an Australian Research Council grant studying the excavation, reburial and in-situ preservation of shipwrecks and their artefacts. I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer when, in 2012, Clarence was excavated, wrapped in geo-textile, covered in shade cloth and tarpaulin and weighed down by 3,500 sandbags. As a result, Clarence may still be there for archaeologists to study in 1000 years time and I can now add ‘professional sandbag filler’ to my resumé.

A small section of Clarence reburial .... Image Jon Carpenter

A small section of Clarence reburial …. Image Jon Carpenter

One vessel not often in the public eye is the clipper ship, Schomberg. Schomberg had no statement of significance in the Victorian database and when I started researching I had no idea what I’d discover. What I did find was a tale of pride, scandal and narrowly avoided tragedy. Schomberg’s story was almost the nineteenth century’s version of Titanic: built at great expense, labeled the most perfect clipper ship ever built, designed to be the most comfortable, luxurious and fastest vessel to sail to Melbourne—and it sank on its maiden voyage in 1855. Fortunately, the steamer SS Queen was close enough to come to the rescue of the 430 passengers and crew.

Captain 'Bully' Forbes. Image courtesty Project Marco Polo

Captain ‘Bully’ Forbes. Image courtesty Project Marco Polo

The Captain, ‘Bully’ Forbes, was charged in the Supreme Court with negligence because of the suspicion that he was playing cards with two female passengers below decks while his ship ran aground. None of the passengers spoke terribly highly of him, complaining that he strutted the deck with a loaded revolver and that half-naked women were emerging from his cabin at all hours of the night. Despite a protest meeting, two inquiries and the court proceedings, he was found not guilty and cleared of all charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence (Uhl 1985:24).

As an aside, Schomberg was built using the ‘diagonal principle’: its frame was British oak with layers of Scottish larch fitted diagonally to the frames, apparently the same design as Queen Victoria’s newly acquired yacht. Interestingly, pieces of hull with this distinctive design feature were washed up on the New Zealand coast and were thought to be a part of Schomberg‘s hull (Lomdahl 1992).

The clipper ship, Schomberg. Photo Heritage Victoria

The clipper ship, Schomberg. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria.

This is just a brief journey through three Victorian shipwreck histories that grabbed my attention, there is more to tell for each but space is brief. While it takes more than just romance, scandal and maritime archaeology to make a vessel significant, each adds to the fabric of the story that makes up the life and wreck of a ship.

References

Harvey, P. 1989 Excavation of the Shipwreck Clarence: Port Phillip Bay October 1987. Victoria: Victoria Archaeology Survey, Maritime Heritage Unit.

Lomdahl, A., 1992 Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail. Victoria: Victoria Archaeological Survey, Maritime Archaeological Unit.

Mosely, M. 1934 ‘Eva Carmichael and Tom Pearce. Why they did not marry.’ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1957), 16 June, p. 4, retrieved 13 October 2013, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/10947161

Uhl, J. 1985 Sailing Ships, Shipwrecks and Crime in the 19th Century: A Handbook for Historians, Genealogists, Shiplovers and Criminologists based on Supreme Court Records, Criminal Sessions 1840s-1860s. Oakleigh, Victoria: Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies.