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Maritime heritage

About Us

Heritage NSW of the Department of Premier and Cabinet is the New South Wales entity responsible for administering the Commonwealth Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 (UCHA), and the shipwreck and relics provisions of the NSW Heritage Act 1977 (within State Waters of NSW).

The Executive Director, Heritage NSW, is also the NSW Delegate for the day-to-day administration of the UCHA that protects shipwreck sites and associated relics located adjacent to NSW's coastal waters.

We receive Commonwealth funding to implement administrative functions and key priorities of the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Program under the UCHA 2018.

We maintain the NSW Maritime Heritage Database, a register of a diverse range of more than 2800 shipwrecks, relics and other underwater and maritime cultural heritage.

With its rugged coastline and large inland rivers, NSW has an extraordinary Maritime heritage and we oversee the protection, management and celebration of maritime heritage in NSW.

The NSW Maritime Heritage Program employs two full-time maritime archaeologists and leads by example in the research, documentation, management, protection and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage.

Heritage NSW works closely with divers, clubs, community groups, key Government and Commercial partners, and individuals.

People involved in recreational diving and fishing have located hundreds of the State's shipwrecks.

What we do

What the Maritime Heritage Program does:

  • Management and protection of historic shipwrecks and maritime heritage sites in NSW
  • Administer legislation under the NSW Heritage Act 1977 and Commonwealth Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018
  • Provide guidance on recording and reporting shipwrecks and relics
  • Monitors and protects historic and declared maritime heritage sites
  • Investigates reported maritime and riverine archaeological sites
  • Manages the underwater cultural heritage of NSW and adjacent waters
  • Undertakes historical research into maritime heritage sites
  • Maintains the NSW Maritime Heritage Database (a register of a diverse range of over 2800 shipwrecks, relics and other underwater and maritime cultural heritage)
  • Outreach, community education and training programs.

Maritime Heritage Program Initiatives include:

The NSW Maritime Heritage Program plays a key advisory and approvals role in development projects that may affect underwater heritage sites (such as marina construction, dredging, offshore telecommunications and pipeline deployment).