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Conservation order protects 1917 shipwreck near Yanchep

Jul 31, 2018
  • Wreck of the Alex T Brown now protected by a conservation order
  • Penalties of up to $1 million and two years' imprisonment for any demolition, damage or alteration of remains  

Heritage Minister David Templeman has issued an ongoing conservation order over the wreck of the Alex T Brown, shipwrecked near Yanchep, north of Perth.

The Alex T Brown was a 788-ton, four-masted wooden schooner built in Puget Sound, Washington, USA in 1903. Sailing from Fremantle to Manila, the ship was blown ashore during a gale on May 29, 1917. The schooner could not be re-floated, and became a total wreck.

Experts from the WA Museum say that the wreck is rare, being one of only two four-masted schooners wrecked in Australia. The Alex T Brown is representative of large wooden commercial sailing vessels built during the final years of North American wooden shipbuilding.

Mr Templeman authorised the protection measures after sections of the hull ribs were sawn off with a chainsaw last year.

The conservation order prohibits the demolition, damage or alteration of the remains of the Alex T Brown shipwreck.

The wreck lies on a beach above the high-water mark and is one of the few shipwrecks that is occasionally visible to the public along the metropolitan coast when it becomes exposed during winter storms.

The WA Museum will monitor the shipwreck site to enforce the conservation order and reduce the likelihood of further vandalism.

Comments attributed to Heritage Minister David Templeman:

"The conservation order will help the Western Australia Museum to protect the wreck of the Alex T Brown, which is of great significance to the maritime history of Western Australia, from any further damage.

"The wreck tells an important story associated with the development of the northern Perth area, as simple houses and homesteads in the Wanneroo district built during the early 20th century used materials salvaged from it.

"People who damage a place that is protected by a conservation order can be prosecuted with a $1 million fine and two years' imprisonment."

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