Newsletter #2. August 2020

Hello Members,

We wish to extend a warm welcome to all our new Members and thank you for your support. Covid-19 may be playing havoc with society but let me assure you that the Amazon 1863 Project Inc. Committee is still working very hard behind the scenes.

The Committee has some major ‘thank you’ messages in this edition. Peter Harvey, Senior Maritime Archaeologist at Heritage Victoria who retired recently, we would like to wish him well and thank him for his guidance, encouragement and support over the last year. As a token of our appreciation Peter has become the Amazon 1863 Project Inc. first Life Member and will continue to take a keen interest in all things Amazon.

Printer donated

We sincerely thank the Inverloch Bendigo Bank for the kind donation of a printer to assist with our work.

Trilby Parise with Penelope Lyttle & Dianne Clark

Amazon Shipwreck site

As many of you would be aware, the Committee has been monitoring the Amazon Shipwreck site, often with bollards and bunting over busy periods. We would like to acknowledge those kind volunteers who have assisted in this process and others who have helped to set up or pack up making the Committee’s job much more tolerable!

The Committee has also been extremely impressed with the ‘ownership’ the community is adopting in relation to the Amazon and her artefacts. A recent phone call to Trilby Parise, President of Amazon 1863 Project Inc. was regarding an amazing dead eye covered in concretion but still perfectly identifiable. A big thank you must go to Sally as we rely heavily on the community’s eyes.

Dead Eye

A DEAD EYE is a circular wooden block with a groove round the circumference to take rope and is used in rigging as illustrated below. This dead eye is now protected in a water bath, thanks to Parks Vic, Wonthaggi Depot.

A Dead Eye
A Dead Eye is a circular wooden block with a groove round the circumference to take rope and is used in rigging as illustrated..

Ever Changing Sand

Recent studies on the Surf Beach foreshore at Inverloch have indicated that the greatest erosion is occurring between August and December each year. It was August last year that the carved trail board was revealed as well as a 4 metre shaped length of wood which resembled hand rail. So, the Committee encourages everyone to be observant on their beach walks.

On 23rd June, after huge rains the new Wreck Creek outlets were cutting through the banks and the eastern outlet was about 2 metres deep. Visible for one tide only was another large section of Amazon wreckage which is thought to be the port side (left) of the bow section.

The Amazon Shipwreck is truly the gift that keeps giving! She reveals herself quietly and is quickly recovered with sand, such is our dynamic coastline.

At the end of April 2019, this unidentified section was visible for a short period. These are large timbers about 25cm thick and appear to be held together by another large section underneath. One edge of the timbers is chamfered.

Erosion 2010 to 2018

The following photos clearly depict the huge erosion which has occurred over the last 10 years. Many visitors have asked why the Amazon has only been revealed recently and Adrian has provided these alarming images. This weekend, we are expecting the worst combination of high tides, big swell and SW winds according to Philip Heath from the Inverloch Coastal Resilience Project. We are so aware of how this dynamic area affects the Amazon Shipwreck and are expecting the worst but hoping for the best for both our coastline and the shipwreck.

Amazon article

Through our close association with Heritage Victoria, the Committee has been approached by Dr Jackie Watts, Chair of the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network in relation to the Amazon Shipwreck. The MMHN August 2020 Newsletter featured an article on the Amazon Shipwreck and we are thrilled to share the story of the Amazon in this manner.

“The Amazon Wreck Project”

Congratulations to those staunch maritime heritage enthusiasts Amazon 1863 Project Inc. around Inverloch for their wonderful and successful advocacy for the Amazon. Project Secretary Karyn Bugeja kindly sent MMHN the very first Amazon Project newsletter. (If you wish to become involved with the project, see amazon1863.org.au. A warning, though, to those wreck enthusiasts anticipating bouts of frenzied digging as the coastal erosion reveals ever more of this marvellous wreck, to quote the newsletter ’the only people who will ever do any digging at the Amazon site will be Heritage Victoria maritime archaeologists’. The site is protected under Heritage Legislation. Heritage Victoria has introduced a conservator experienced in the preservation of wooden ships to work with the Project Committee to develop a conservation plan. In a practical conservations sense – volunteers are on the beach ensuring that the tantalising fragments emerging from the sands don’t become ‘souvenirs’ !

On 3 May, about 30cm of sand was eroded revealing what was initially thought to be the Keel but was actually the Stem. And what is the Stem? According to Wikipedia, the stem is the curved edge stretching from the keel below, up to the gunwale of the boat. It is part of the physical structure of a wooden boat or ship that gives it strength at the critical section of the structure, bringing together the port and starboard side planks of the hull. There are two styles of stems: plumb and raked. When the stem comes up from the water, if it is perpendicular to the waterline it is ‘plumb’. If it is inclined at an angle to the waterline it is ‘raked’. “

Jackie also included the diagram of the Stem from our last Newsletter.

Amazon 1863 Project – Committee Members

Some of you will be aware of the Committee Members, others not, so here are a few faces for you to recognise when you visit the Amazon wreck site or on your travels around Inverloch.

Marg Pope (far right) joined the Committee in March and has taken on the role of Membership Secretary and recently we welcomed Michael Buckridge to the Committee. Photo : Jackie Laurie, Trilby Parise, Adrian Brewer, Marg Pope. (Melissa Lowery absent)

We will all meet Michael and welcome him to his first Committee meeting as soon as we are able!

Training

The Committee undertook a few lectures remotely in Archaeology and Cataloguing of artefacts with Heritage Victoria in July. This will enable us to continue the cataloguing begun by Maddy McAllister in November 2018 and will be compatible with Heritage Victoria’s Register of Amazon artefacts. There have been a number of wooden artefacts handed in over the years requiring cataloguing and these are stored with Parks Wonthaggi Depot. Thanks also to Brian Martin at the Wonthaggi Parks Depot who has been coordinating the storage of artefacts.

Future presentation planned

Later in the year we hope to invite Liam Phillips from Heritage Victoria to give a presentation on the Amazon Shipwreck and around that time we would also ask locals who have any artefacts to bring them to a team of Committee members for cataloguing and photographing for Heritage Victoria records. The items will be returned as soon as the process is complete. This process ensures that ‘when’ Inverloch has a Geological, Historical and Maritime Museum significant artefacts can be displayed.

On that note, Liam has requested that any locals who have found an item they believe is associated with the Amazon Shipwreck will take the time to enter that item in the Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database which is a separate catalogue of information. There will be more discussion about this again at a later date.


The commitment from Committee and volunteers to monitor and patrol the area over the school holiday period and weekends has been commendable.


Committee Member Adrian Brewer explaining the wreck site to interested visitors:

Fundraising Project well underway!

We are happy to reveal a sneak preview of our beautifully illustrated children’s book about the Amazon Shipwreck.

The wreck 25 June 2020

The Amazon Shipwreck on 25/6/2020 after further erosion at the site. Thankfully we have all had some time and space to relax since the wreck was covered with a further 30 cm of sand. In this time we have been busy working on the end result of our mission which is a museum for Inverloch incorporating geological, historical and maritime exhibitions.

Stay well everyone!
Karyn Bugeja, Secretary, Amazon 1863 Project Inc.