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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

6 April 2005

Funds to anchor SS Brisbane's exotic story

Australians will be able to view the anchor of one of our country's most fascinating shipwrecks, the SS Brisbane, thanks to funding announced today by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell.

"The SS Brisbane sank in waters off Darwin in 1881 as part of a fleet of ships which travelled between Asia and Australia in the late 19th century, bringing mail, Chinese settlers heading for goldfields and exotic goods like ornaments, jewellery, spices, tea and opium," Senator Campbell said.

"These ships contributed significantly to the Port Darwin's economic development and to reducing the geographic isolation of the settlement. "Much of the Brisbane's work involved the highly profitable transport of Chinese immigrants to Australia.

"When the SS Brisbane was stranded on a reef near Quail Island in October 1881 it was not only carrying Chinese passengers but also 54 cases of opium, 1000 packages of tea, embroidered silks, tortoise shell ornaments and lacquered goods, all of which were retrieved.

"The story of the Brisbane is one worth telling - that's why the Australian Government's Historic Shipwrecks Programme is providing $5165 to its territory partner, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, for a cradle to support the SS Brisbane's anchor for public display in Darwin."

A properly designed cradle is the appropriate method for preserving and displaying historic anchors.

Senator Campbell said this venture was one of 40 shipwreck-related projects being funded through this programme.

"The Australian Government funds its state and territory partners through the Historic Shipwrecks Programme to help protect, preserve, research and inform about some of the nation's 6500 shipwrecks and related materials," he said.

"Every shipwreck is a watery time capsule with a story waiting to be told.

"Through investigation, research and interpretation we can see into our past and discover more about our history particularly in areas such as trade, defence and migration."

A total of $23,347 will be given to three Northern Territory shipwreck-related projects as part of the Australian Government programme.

Further information about Australia's Historic Shipwrecks Programme can be found at

Media Contact:
Senator Campbell's office: Renae Stoikos (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia