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

6 April 2005

New life for story of First Fleet flagship

The story of the ship that led the First Fleet into Sydney Cove in 1788 is to be vividly portrayed as a result of funding announced today by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell.

The Minister said that $10,000 would be given to the Norfolk Island Museum through the Australian Government's Historic Shipwrecks Programme to enhance its HMS Sirius exhibition located in the heritage-listed Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area.

"The role of the HMS Sirius in Australia's settlement history is pivotal," Senator Campbell said.

"Although it was only 30 metres long, this frigate, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, led a fleet of 11 ships carrying 1350 convicts, sailors and other passengers, to establish the first settlement in Australia.

"It was a monumental journey taking eight months to complete, but it was successful in its mission. Two years later, when the fledgling colony of New South Wales was struggling to support itself, The Sirius and the HMS Supply were sent on a special voyage to transport marines and convicts to Norfolk Island to lessen the burden on the new settlement.

"It was here that the Sirius foundered when it struck a reef off Sydney Bay (Kingston) on Norfolk Island and was finally wrecked.

"In recent years the Sirius has been the focus of one of Australia's most intensive and successful maritime archaeological investigations. Many artefacts have been retrieved from the wreck, some of which can now be seen by the public at the Norfolk Island Museum."

Senator Campbell said that the funding under the Historic Shipwrecks Programme would enable the island's museum to collaborate with a major Australian museum to help develop a professional multi-media exhibition design for the HMS Sirius exhibition.

He said this venture was one of 40 shipwreck-related projects being funded through this programme. Under the Historic Shipwrecks Programme , the Australian Government funds its state and territory partners to help protect, preserve, research and inform about some of the nation's 6500 shipwrecks and related materials.

"Every shipwreck is a watery timecapsule with a story waiting to be told," Senator Campbell said.

"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 $11,500 will be given to two Norfolk Island 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