Submerged – Stories of Australia’s Shipwrecks

Archaeologists examine remains of the Royal Charlotte wrecked on Frederick Reef in 1825. Xanthe Rivett, courtesy Silentworld Foundation.

Australia’s coast is the final resting place of over 11,000 shipwrecks – roughly one wreck for every three kilometres of coastline. And New South Wales’ PS Wagga Wagga and Wollongbar (II) are two of 14 wrecks whose stories will feature in a nationally touring panel exhibition Submerged – Stories of Australia’s Shipwrecks uncovering Australia’s rich shipwreck history.

Submerged is presented by the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Australian Maritime Museums Councilandis the result of a national project with workshops held across the country to develop the exhibition and to source shipwreck stories. 68 shipwreck stories were nominated by 46 maritime museums and heritage institutions from around Australia with 14 of the most compelling stories selected to feature in the exhibition.

PS Wagga Wagga was the last operational paddle steamer on the Murrumbidgee River. It had spent 40 years plying the treacherous waters between Hay and Wagga Wagga before it hit a snag and foundered in 1913 at Narrandera. Screw-driven steamer Wollongbar (II) was carrying cargo when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sank at Crescent Head near Port Macquarie in 1943.

The exhibition also features wrecks of merchant vessels, trawlers, schooners, whalers and a submarine. The oldest wreck featured is WA’s Batavia. Its 1629 loss on Beacon Island, and subsequent mutiny, is one of the most dramatic events in Dutch and Australian history.

Other wrecks include Sanyo Maru, a Japanese motor vessel lost in 1937 in Boucaut Bay NT, British merchant ship Sydney Cove lost in 1797 off Preservation Island, Tasmania and the Fijian fishing trawler Degei which struck rocks on Donington Reef, SA in 1974.

The exhibition also features one shipwreck from outside Australia – Australia’s second submarine HMAS AE2 which was lost in 1915 during the First World War in the Sea of Marmara, Turkey.

Submerged – Stories of Australia’s Shipwrecks is on a two year national tour across regional Australia. The exhibition is assisted by the Australian Government Visions of Australia program.

Visit the exhibition

  • Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sunday 10am to 2pm, closed Mondays
  • Dates: From Tuesday 2 July 2019 for a limited time
  • Location: Museum of the Riverina Historic Council Chambers site, corner Baylis Street and Morrow Street, Wagga Wagga
  • Cost: Free