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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Justin Madden MLC
Victorian Minister for Planning

Shifting sands reveal Pretty Jane shipwreck

Joint media release
6 February 2009

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A shipwreck missing off Victoria’s Ninety Mile Beach for 127 years has re-appeared at Loch Sport, with remnants of its frames and boiler now visible to beachgoers.

Heritage Victoria archaeologists believe the wreck is the Scottish-built, iron steamer Pretty Jane, which sunk in 1882 following a collision with the Magnolia.

There had been no reported sightings of the wreck since its demise, until Parks Victoria rangers reported the visible remnants on the Gippsland beach last month.

Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden said the location, dimensions and construction of the remnants all pointed to the reappearance of the ill-fated coastal trader Pretty Jane.

“The Pretty Jane was travelling from Bairnsdale to Melbourne when it collided with the Magnolia and struck the sand bar at Lakes Entrance,” Mr Madden said.

“It continued to Melbourne for repairs but began to sink just off the Ninety Mile Beach. All on board were saved but the Pretty Jane broke up and was never seen again. The natural sand movement of the beach has revealed this missing link in our maritime heritage.”

As it is below the high water mark, the Pretty Jane is officially in Commonwealth waters and therefore protected by the Australian Government’s Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett welcomed the incredible discovery.

“This is a great example of the Australian and Victorian Governments working together to ensure the Pretty Jane wreck is appropriately recorded and protected,” Mr Garrett said.

“It is vital we preserve Australia’s historic shipwrecks and their artefacts, as they are often the only windows to understanding important aspects of our vast maritime heritage.

“The Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 will give legal protection to the shipwreck and its relics from damage, disturbance or removal. Provisions under the Act will ensure the protection of the wreck, its relics and any human remains.”

Mr Madden said there were about 700 historic shipwrecks in Victorian waters and only about 30 per cent of those have been found and surveyed.

“Having the Pretty Jane revealed makes it more vulnerable in many respects, which is why historic shipwrecks are protected. Heritage Victoria relies on cooperation from the community to respect the wreck and report any possible interference,” Mr Madden said.

“Although this is a wonderful opportunity for Victorians to see maritime heritage up close, beachgoers should remember that it is an offence to damage historic shipwrecks, and that includes removing items from the wreck.”

Penalties include up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for individuals and $50,000 for a body corporate.

The 34m-long Pretty Jane was built in 1870 in Rutherglen, Scotland for the New Zealand Meat Preserving Company. In 1879, it was registered in Sydney and sold to the Australasian Steam Navigation Company.

The cargo ship Magnolia survived the 1882 collision with the Pretty Jane but in 1887 disappeared without trace between Wilsons Promontory and Lakes Entrance, taking the lives of four crew.

Commonwealth of Australia