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Maritime archaeology

Explore maritime heritage of Queensland through the extensive maritime archaeology collection and discover past seafaring along the Queensland coastline.


Maritime archaeological research is unique, investigating ship and aircraft wrecks along the Queensland coastline to reveal clues about our past and how to manage these sites into the future.

Scientific study

Maritime archaeology is the study of past human interaction in, on or around the water. It involves the study of ships and shipwrecks, maritime infrastructure, maritime identities and landscapes, seascapes, and other types of heritage, both tangible and intangible.


Collection highlights

Queensland Museum’s maritime archaeology collection holds over 8,000 artefacts from approximately 25 shipwrecks along the Queensland coast and Great Barrier Reef.

A significant portion relates to the excavated artefacts from the maritime archaeological excavation of HMS Pandora (1779) shipwreck. As well as other notable sites like Foam (1893), Scottish Prince (1887), HMCS Mermaid (1829) and SS Yongala (1911).

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Research overview

The museum has a broad research focus for maritime archaeology. Primarily, the focus is on understanding the collection and learning more about shipwrecks through the material culture we hold.

Led by Dr Maddy McAllister, current research focuses on the unidentified shipwrecks within the collection: the shipwrecks that have been found but their name and identity remain a mystery. Maddy is investigating ways to learn more about when and where these ships were built through analysis of copper alloy artefacts discovered on the shipwrecks. In addition, we are piecing together archival material to put a name to unidentified shipwrecks along our coastline.


Find out more

Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 5,000 items of our Cultures & Histories collection are now accessible online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

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