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Underwater cultural heritage (historic ship and aircraft wrecks and artefacts)

Key Finding

Since 2018, 14 existing Queensland shipwreck entries were updated and 4 new Queensland shipwrecks entries, 3 new aircraft entries and 2 new artefact entries were added to the Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database (AUCHD).

All ship and aircraft wrecks and associated artefacts submerged in Australian or Queensland waters for at least 75 years are protected under either the Australian Government’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 (UCHA 2018), which replaced its Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 in July 2019, or the Queensland Heritage Act 1992.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) manages the state’s underwater cultural heritage resource in a number of ways. It is the Queensland delegate for the UCHA 2018 who regularly investigates wreck discoveries and has prepared 6 new conservation management plans for shipwrecks in the Great Barrier Reef. DES enters underwater cultural heritage information (including shipwrecks, aircraft wrecks and artefacts) in the Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database (AUCHD).

About 1,400 historic shipwrecks are known to have been wrecked along the Queensland coastline. Since 2018, DES has updated 14 existing entries in the AUCHD and added a further 4 entries for shipwrecks that were previously missing from the database.

The Queensland Heritage Act 1992 was amended in 2014 to protect underwater cultural heritage, a category expanded to include historic aircraft submerged in Queensland waters for at least 75 years. Since 2018, DES has added 3 aircraft entries, along with 2 artefact entries, to the AUCHD.

More information:

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals’ targets

  • GOAL 14: LIFE BELOW WATER
  • GOAL 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS

Queensland underwater cultural heritage entries updated in the AUCHD

  • Chart
  • Table
YearShipwreckAircraft wreckArtefacts
201220300
2013700
201446800
201519200
20162700
20179300
2018800
2019600
2020100

Queensland underwater cultural heritage entries added to the AUCHD

  • Chart
  • Table
YearShipwreckAircraft wreckArtefacts
2012900
20131260
201402312
2015100
2016110
20172720
2018000
2019400
2020032

Download data from Queensland Government data

Metadata

Accumulative number of historic shipwrecks and aircraft wrecks and artefacts entries updated or added to the Australian National Shipwreck Database for 2012–2020.

Underwater Ship and Aircraft Wreck Locations off the Coast of Townsville

Figure 1: Exact and estimated locations of ship and aircraft wrecks
Figure 1: Underwater cultural heritage off the coast of Townsville showing the location of the wreck of Yongala, a single screw steamer wrecked in 1911 off Cape Bowling Green with at least 121 lives lost. Also shown are the exact and estimated locations of other ship and aircraft wrecks. Source: Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database.