THE recent removal of an historic anchor from the Richmond River spit in Ballina is just one incident that has prompted the NSW Department of Planning to call for expressions of interest in a course on shipwreck reporting.
The anchor, which could be from a 140-year-old wreck in the river, was later handed in to the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum anonymously after a public appeal by museum volunteers – and the threat of a $10,000 fine for the removal of the maritime artefact under the NSW Heritage Act.
The man responsible for NSW shipwrecks, the deputy director of the Heritage Branch of the NSW Department of Planning, Tim Smith, said depending on public interest, he planned to run two of the internationally recognised Introduction to Maritime Archaeology Training Courses on the North Coast early next year.
“The North Coast is a real hotspot for shipwreck discoveries with its big coastal rivers and their steamer heritage,” he said.
The two-day course is accredited by the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology and the Nautical Archaeology Society.
Minister for Planning Tony Kelly said the wreck-spotters program allowed volunteers to work alongside marine archaeologists in the identifying, mapping and promotion of shipwreck sites in their local communities.
“The need for their proper identification and handling has been underlined by two recent examples on the State’s North Coast,” he said.
“In October the stemson from a 120-year-old wreck was moved from a beach on the Tweed, and it remains missing.
“And in November an anchor from what could be a 140-year-old wreck was removed from the Richmond River spit at Ballina.
“Fortunately, it has now been recovered and will take its place in the State’s maritime heritage.”
Anyone interested in the course should contact Sarah Ward on 9873 8533.