ANMM Harbour Cruise: Shipwrecks of Sydney Harbour

Beyond the waterfront mansions and modern crusiers of Sydney Harbour are the littered remains of historic vessels – each with their own fascinating stories to tell!

Are you intrigued by the romance and drama of shipwrecks? Did you know that there are several shipwreck sites in Sydney Harbour? Led by the Australian National Maritime Museum’s maritime archaeology curator Dr James Hunter, you’ll cruise on-board the twin-cataraman Eclipse to the sites of four Sydney Harbour shipwrecks, discover exposed shipwreck remains and view underwater footage.

This family-friendly cruise focuses on the wrecks of Middle Harbour and Sydney Heads where James will share the fascinating and dramatic stories that led up to these historical vessel’s last moments. You’ll enjoy the beauty of the harbour with a delicious catered morning tea and lunch, plus learn about Sydney’s maritime secrets! 

About the shipwrecks

The Centennial (1863-1889) is one of the largest surviving shipwrecks in Sydney Harbour. An iron steamer built at Greenock, UK in 1863, the Centennial had a length of 66m and 897 tonnes. An international cargo carrier, the vessel ended its days sunk in Taylor’s Bay, after collision with the Kanahooka in August 1889.

Itata (1883-1906) was a steel barque built in Liverpool UK in 1883. The 61.2m ship is thought to have traded between England, South America and Australia, principally with a cargo of coal and nitrate. Today, Itata’s remains lay in Salt Pan Creek, Long Bay, Middle Harbour.

The Centurion (1869-1887) forms one of the most interesting shipwreck dives in Sydney Harbour. The Centurion was built as a magnificent timber clipper ship, later transformed to a barque rig, square-rigged on two masts. It was built in Aberdeen, Scotland, 1869, had a length of 63 metres and 1004 tonnes, and served as a passenger and cargo carrier and later as a collier.

The 37-year-old steamer the Royal Shephard (1853-1890), sank in just 10 minutes in 27 metres of water after a collision with the collier Hesketh in July 1890. The vessel operated between Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales as a passenger ship, general cargo carrier, cattle transport, sewerage dumper and finally a collier. When it sank, the captain and crew just managed to clamber onto Hesketh’s towering bow as their vessel sank beneath them.

About your host

Dr James Hunter is the National Maritime Museum’s Curator of Royal Australian Navy Maritime Archaeology. He has worked in the field of maritime archaeology for nearly two decades, and during that time has participated in the investigation of shipwrecks and other archaeological sites ranging from prehistory to the modern era. James was a member of the archaeological team that investigated the American Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley, and a staff archaeologist with the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch.


Date: Thursday 10 October 2019

Time 8.30am – 1pm

Cost: Adult $149 | ANMM Member, Concession, Child (15 years & under) $125 | Family (2 adults & 2 children) $470

If you want more information about the event, it can be found here:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply