Students aid restoration
BALLINA High School chemistry students will be helping the volunteers at the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum restore the historic anchor uncovered at the Spit in November.
The anchor, believed to be from the brigantine Josephine which was wrecked in the Richmond River in 1865, was handed in to the museum by souvenir-hunters who took it from its resting place, risking a $10,000 fine.
The historic piece is currently being stabilised in a solution of sodium hydroxide, before restoration and preservation work begins.
Head science and marine studies teacher at the school, Mick O’Connor, said the restoration project would allow the students to put into practice their knowledge of shipwrecks, corrosion and conservation chemistry which they study as an elective accounting for 25 per cent of their Higher School Certificate 2 Unit Chemistry course.
The anchor will be left in sodium hydroxide solution and kept at pH of 12.9 until school returns.
Most of concretions, mostly oysters, will then be carefully removed prior to electrolytic reduction and cleaning.
The apparatus used in these processes will be made by the students, and will be scaled-up versions of the experiments they are required to perform as part of their courses.
The process is expected to take 12 months to complete.
“The Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum has a long history of assisting school students and is an incredible educational resource in the town,” Mr O’Connor said.
Curator of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, Ron Creber, welcomed the students as they began preliminary testing of the hydroxide solution.
“Our volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they will willingly pass on to these students,” he said.
“This is an excellent project for both the museum and the school, providing an opportunity for the students to experience first-hand the restoration and protection of these historically valuable artefacts.”