Australia: Souvenir hunters raid old shipwreck

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Posted by on July 18, 2006 at 21:08:35:

PART of an old ship washed up on Hope Beach at South Arm has been moved out of the reach of souvenir hunters.

Parks and Wildlife maritime archeologist Mike Nash said yesterday it appeared some pieces may have gone missing overnight on Sunday and there was concern other pieces, such as the brass fittings, might be taken.

He said locals had arranged an excavator to move the part washed ashore last week to a nearby property, where it would be kept wet and wrapped up.

Washed up by the recent huge swells, the piece of Tasmania's early maritime history has attracted a stream of visitors to the beach since it was discovered at the weekend.

Mr Nash said it was still to be decided what to do with the piece but it might be kept at the Maritime Museum as the V-shaped section was only about 3m long.

He said he would do further investigations into the origin of the piece.

"So far, the only ship eliminated as a possibility is the Hope, which was wrecked off Hope Beach in 1827," he said.

"It can't be the Hope as a piece of brass on the wreckage carries the patent stamp of Muntz metal sheathing which was not patented until 1832."

Mr Nash said the other possible sources included the Petrel which, built at Gravelly Beach on the Tamar River in 1847, was sailing to the Tasman Peninsula to load coal when it was stranded on Hope Beach in 1853.

"The timber doesn't seem big enough for a vessel of the Petrel's size," Mr Nash said.

Three smaller vessels wrecked in the area were the 15-tonne schooner the Louise (wrecked in 1841), the 30-tonne ketch the Alfred And Lizzie (1894), and the 21-tonne ketch Huon Pine (1925).

"But the piece of wreckage may have come from something totally different," Mr Nash said.

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