Picking up the pieces: the story of a shipwreck

23rd December 2015

Lauren Davison

Department of Archaeology, Flinders University Masters of Maritime Archaeology November 2014

This thesis uses a case study from the Gold Coast, Queensland, to examine how archaeological investigative processes aid in the identification of disarticulated contextfree shipwrecks. The exposure of a vessel, Shipwreck X, on North Kirra Beach in 1974 resulted in the removal of the remains by the Gold Coast City Council (GCCC). Authorities included sections of the shipwreck in sculptures, memorials, trophies and gave fragments as presents to visiting public figures. Other sections were stored at the GCCC depot, Tugun. Today, remains of Shipwreck X are located across three sites: the GCCC depot, the Gold Coast and Hinterland Historical Society (GCHHS), Surfers Paradise and Queen Elizabeth Park (QEP), Coolangatta. The identification of Shipwreck X remains under scrutiny and its identity as the “Coolangatta” ship is uncertain. A debate exists and suggests two potential candidates, “Coolangatta” and “Heroine”, both of which were wrecked in similar circumstances. “Coolangatta”, built in 1843 at Shoalhaven River, was wrecked north of Point Danger in 1846 after breaking its anchor cables and blowing ashore. “Heroine”, built in 1894 at Nambucca River, broke its mooring lines in 1897 and beached two miles north of Point Danger. This study set out to record the archaeological remains of Shipwreck X, using photographs, scale drawings, full-sized tracings, detailed descriptions and material analyses and to undertake historical research to assist with its identification. Without any proper conservation treatment of the remains, Shipwreck X allowed a study of the constraints that highly degraded materials place on available research methods. This research evaluates those methodological constraints.

Davison, L.
Picking up the pieces: the story of a shipwreck
December 2015
Thesis Abstracts
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