Cabinet comes to the Clarence

Tuesday 8 May

On a grey and blustery Tuesday morning a delegation from Melbourne visited the Clarence Project. Leading the party was the Victorian Minister for Planning the Hon Matthew Guy and his advisor, the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria Jim Gard’ner and journalists from Channel 9. As if by divine intervention the winds abated, the seas calmed and a circuit around the jack-up barge by Heritage Victoria’s vessel TRIM transformed into a visit on the barge’s platform followed by an exhilarating and extensive snorkel over the excavated timbers. Minister Guy, Jim Gard’ner, effervescent Channel 9 reporter Laura and supervisor Cos Coroneos circumnavigated and admired the submerged lines of the sparkling Clarence. The Channel 9 cameras rolled long and hard with interviews of the Minister (on the deck and in the quite cold water), Jim Gard’ner and the Project’s Peter Veth, Vicki Richards, Cos Coroneos and Jen Rodrigues.   

Peter Veth
JUPB1 barge with Channel 9 filming
The Ministerial delegation snorkling on Clarence

As soon as the Ministerial delegation left the site the Project’s well-oiled team were transferred on to the platform by HV’s Peter Harvey. An already memorable day ramped up even further with the subsequent reburial of all of the organic artefacts (such as the tierce staves) which had been recovered and recorded from the wreck in to a long-term repository located nearby. James Parkinson and Cos Corneous, in tandem with the conservation scientists Vicki Richards and Kalle Kasi, and Finds Manager Jen Rodriguies, put in a herculean effort that afternoon in transferring and relocating the objects from the conservation laboratory back in to the repository and under a substantial layer of sediments – ensuring they were in a secure anaerobic environment.

Victorian Minister for Planning the Hon Matthew Guy and the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria Jim Gard’ner. 

That afternoon the Project was joined by Dive Instructor Kevin Harmon who had just flown in from Texas to join the Team. He will return to the USA by the weekend – such is the attraction of the Clarence. The Project has now completed photomosaics of the site, surveyed the structure, carried out extensive conservation tasks, taken sediment cores for the ANU Masters of Archaeology Science candidates and co-ordinator Tony Barham, and is now poised for the backfilling operation.

Tomorrow a direct descendant of the ship’s Captain William Dalton will come to the site in a sailing vessel and snorkel the wreck. The loop is slowly being closed – where history, science and narrative comes together in a celebration of Australia’s maritime heritage.

By Professor Peter Veth
Lead Chief Investigator   
University of Western Australia
Western Australia