A brief return

Sunday 3 June

This past two days a small team of divers from Heritage Victoria, Professional Diving Services, and MAAV joined me to return to Clarence to complete a few left over tasks. We had a few moments of pause when assessing the weather, but managed two glorious, albeit very long, days.

Under the direction of Partner Investigator Vicki Richards, the team took additional photographs of the site, two sets of replicate cores and sediment profiles. We also carted a huge number of sandbags from offsite to the reburial depot and excavation trench. Especially great work by MAAV’s Johnny Osmond… we thought he’d headed back to shore, underwater, but he was just collecting wayward sandbags.

The sandbags were placed around the outside of the hull timbers to provide support for the frames, but the main aim this trip was to ensure that there was a minimum of 50cm sediment coverage over the sacrificial samples that Vicki will be using for monitoring the site, the artefacts and hull structure which were exposed during excavation, and also in the reburial depot.  This is to prepare the site for the final in situ preservation component: the deployment of large PVC tarpaulins that will drape over the entire site, to be held in place by large concrete blocks.

With buddy teams of divers working on SCUBA with surface communications, this time with Heritage Victoria’s Trim as our diving platform, the shade cloth over the trench and depot were peeled back, and sand bags were cut open to pour in the clean sand. Not terribly exciting work, but critical to ensure that the site returns quickly to an anaerobic state and the in situ preservation testing and longitudinal monitoring can commence.


Image: A final glorious sunset at Queenscliffe (Photo by Cass Philippou)

A massive thanks is due to this Clarence crack team for contributing to this extra piece of fieldwork before winter settles in: Vicki Richards, James Parkinson, Peter Harvey, Ian McCann, Jane Mitchell, John Osmond, Toni Massey and Rhonda Steel.  We’ll see you all again in November! 


By Cassandra Philippou

Project Manager
Australian Historic Shipwreck Preservation Project
University of Western Australia