Museum Update - It's a good year for the Sirius

It’s a good year for the Sirius

Wreck Check Inc. is an association made up of volunteers working collaboratively with relevant organisations to research and document underwater cultural heritage. Graeme Henderson is the Chair of this association and well known on Norfolk Island for his involvement in the HMS Sirius Project maritime archaeological expeditions during the 1980’s.

Keen to investigate the cause of the wrecking of the Sirius, Graeme through Wreck Check Inc. submitted a successful grant application to the Department of Environment and Energy’s Community Heritage and Icons Grants 2016-2017 to fund a research project titled ‘Who or What Sank the Sirius?
The HMS Sirius is recognised as the Flagship of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788; she was the chief protector of the British colonies in New South Wales and Norfolk Island until her loss on our reef in 1790. Historians have blamed the wind direction and currents along with Captain Hunter’s injudicious approach to the island however consideration should be given to a remark by Lieutenant Governor King, that the Sirius failed to answer its helm.  Removal of ballast can make a vessel unstable and unable to tack out of danger.  In 1788 ballast had been removed from the ship to make way for provisions, possibly affecting the stability of the ship.  

The quantity of ballast remaining on the reef will be analysed by Wreck Check Inc. members with the assistance of the Norfolk Island Maritime Archaeological Association using photogrammetric data to assess the mass and then weight of the ballast.  Naval architects will be approached for advice on the implications of instability.  At best such analysis will indicate the major cause of the loss of the vessel; while at worst it will indicate whether inadequate ballast was one of the causes.  The outcomes will at the very least be useful to enhance the interpretation and educational potential of the HMS Sirius story and her associated relics.   We’ll keep you posted when the research begins.  Congratulations Wreck Check Inc.

And furthermore…….   We are delighted to announce our own successful grant application to the Department of the Environment and Energy Protecting National Historic Sites 2016-2017 to provide funding for a HMS Sirius Management Plan.  The position of Team Leader Heritage Management, Norfolk Island Regional Council acts as the Ministers Delegate in Norfolk Island for the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.  The Act aims to ensure that historic shipwrecks are protected for their heritage values and maintained for recreational, scientific and educational purposes.  It also seeks to control actions which may result in damage, interference, removal or destruction of an historic shipwreck or associated relic.  An updated management plan will provide the framework to protect the site and the mechanisms to support ongoing access, awareness and research potential, in addition to satisfying legislative requirements of the National and Commonwealth Listings as well as the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Graeme Henderson has agreed to be the consultant to undertake the review and development of the plan.  Graeme will be supported by Brian Prince, Commonwealth Heritage Manager for his professional heritage management advice and by the Norfolk Island Museum through my position as Team Leader Heritage Management for the Norfolk Island Regional Council.    We are very much looking forward to once again working with Graeme Henderson, the go to person for all things Sirius.

Janelle Blucher
TEAM LEADER HERITAGE MANAGEMENT