Maritime outdoor signs and trails to visit

Outdoor signs and trails help to mark, promote and protect our maritime heritage.

You visit these maritime signs and trails in NSW:

Central Coast 

Merchant Seaman's Memorial, Norah Head

An historic Admiralty pattern anchor and attached bronze plaque serves as a memorial to Merchant Seaman losses during World War Two. The memorial and coatal viewing platform is located between the carpark and the Norah Head Lighthouse at Norah Head. Norah Head is accessible from the F3 Motorway by taking the turn off to Wyong and Toukley.

Maitland, Maitland Bay, Kilcare

The bell of the iron paddle steamer Maitland stands at the head of the walking track to the bay that claimed the vessel. Labouring into a frightening gale, the Maitland was driven onto the foot of East Reef, Broken Bay. The tragic death toll of 24 from 63 aboard, appalled the population. Remembered as the "Maitland Gale", it also claimed the schooners Amelia White, Philip Palfrey, Adelaide, Isabel, J.G. Kondio; the ketch Coral; the barquentine Fido; the ship Hereward and the steamers Ethel, Merksworth and Saxonia. The Maitland's bell stands outside the National Parks & Wildlife Office on The Scenic Road, at Kilcare, in Bouddi National Park.

Darling River 

Wave, Bourke

The paddle steamer Wave (1886 - 1921) lies abandoned in a paddock opposite the town of Bourke, testimony to the glory days of inland river steamer traffic. The timber vessel was caught in time of flood, cutting across the fields out of the Darling River's main channel, and stranded when the waters subsided! The wreck site that today consists of the engine, boiler and paddle wheels, and can be reached by road from Bourke.

An interpretation sign marks the site and Bourke Shire Council and Bourke Tourism distribute "Mud Map Tours" driving and walking maps with access directions.

Hunter Valley 

Shipwreck Walk, Newcastle

The Oyster Bank, a sandbank at the entrance to the Hunter River and Newcastle, was the cause of many shipping tragedies. To minimise the risk of vessel loss, a stone break wall was constructed on either side of the entrance. Partly built over existing historic wreck sites, additional hulks were placed between these to complete the base for the northern breakwater, totaling over fifteen sites. The Adolphe, lost in 1904, is a visible reminder of the many hulls that now lie beneath the wall.

In 1992, the breakwater was renamed, "Shipwreck Walk" and the location of each individual wreck site identified with a concrete marker. The project was an initiative of the Newcastle Region Maritime Museum, the (then) Maritime Archaeological Association, Newcastle City Council, with support from a range of Government agencies. Access to the trail is via Stockton on the northern bank of the Hunter River.

Although it does not have its own marker, the breakwater is also near to the original entrance to the river. Here, in March 1805, the Francis was wrecked north of that entrance. The Francis played an important role in rescuing survivors of one of Australia's most significant shipwreck events - the Sydney Cove wreck in the Furneaux Group of islands, Tasmania, in 1797. On the third of three rescue voyages, Lt Mathew Flinders was among the ship's company. Later that year, George Bass conducted initial exploration to determine whether Tasmania was an island and later, he and Flinders circumnavigated Tasmania to put the issue beyond doubt.

Adolphe, Newcastle Breakwater

The wreck of the iron barque Adolphe 1904 is a feature of the Newcastle skyline, visible above the stone work of the northern breakwater constraining the harbour entrance.

Incorporated into the Shipwreck Walk, the Adolphe is serviced by a dedicated viewing gantry that extends over the wreck site, allowing visitors a safe view into the body of the hull. An interpretative sign provides additional information on the loss and interesting historical photographs of the wreck being pounded by the sea. The can be reached. Located in Stockton, the northern breakwater and viewing platform leads from Griffith Park accessible from Pitt Street that skirts the ocean shore.

Illawarra and South Coast

Queen of Nations, Corrimal Beach

The timber clipper ship Queen of Nations wrecked in the surf zone of Corrimal Beach, near Wollongong, in 1881. The Heritage Office undertook the initial archaeological surveys of the historic wreck site in 1992 and developed an interpretative sign for the wreck with the assistance of Wollongong City Council and the Illawarra Historical Society.

Located on Towradgi Point, the interpretative sign is accessible by road from Caldwell Street off the Princes Highway. The plinth is situated in the grassed area adjacent to the terminus of the street, looking out at Corrimal Beach.

Jervis Bay shipwreck signs, Booderee National Park

Information signs established by the National Parks Service record the loss of a range of vessels in Wreck Bay, south of Jervis Bay. The signage has been established at the ruinous Cape St George Lighthouse within the Commonwealth Booderee National Park. Important local shipwreck sites include the convict ship Hive (1835), the Summer Cloud (1870) and Walter Hood (1870). Access is by Jervis Bay Road from the Princes Highway, then Wreck Bay Road. A walking track extends from the car park to the historic lighthouse remains. An entry fee is payable for access to the Park.

Cities Service Boston, Bass Point

The marker to the wreck of the Cities Service Boston is located at Bass Point, at the end of Bass Point Tourist Road, from the Shellharbour town centre.

Walter Hood, Bendalong

At Cudmirrah Nature Reserve near Bendalong, lies a stone memorial just inshore from Monument Beach. The memorial marks the loss of the clipper Walter Hood there in 1870, and serves as a marker of the grave of those drowned. In total, eleven lost their life when the timber full-rigged sailing ship crashed ashore on 26 April 1870. A grave and later memorial for the bodies recovered from the wreck was established on the adjacent beach.

The Walter Hood Monument Walking Trail to Monument Beach, in the Cudmirrah Nature Reserve, lies within the Conjola State Forrest. Access to the memorial cairn is via Bangalay Road, Bendalong, while you can access the beach and cairn from North Bendalong or the southern side of Berrara Lagoon.

Mid north coast 

Port Macquarie Shipping Trail, Port Macquarie

The Port Macquarie shipwreck trail features some thirty bronze circular plaques embedded into the lawn within Town Beach Park, fronting the Hastings River. Coordinated by the Port Macquarie Maritime Museum between 1992-1995, the plaques feature individual vessels that traded to Port Macquarie and were funded by individual local families.

Port History Trail, Nambucca Heads

Accessible by car from the coastal town of Nambucca Heads, is a series of stone markers with attached bronze plaques detailing the history of several important foreshore areas. The sites, now public open space bordering the Nambucca River, denote the former coastal shipping wharves and boat-building centres. The markers, established on the river-side of Wellington Drive that extends from the centre of town to Nambucca's North Head and Wellington Rock, itself named after the loss of the iron steamer Wellington at the river entrance in 1892. The trail was established by the Nambucca District Historical Society.

Manning, Taree

Greater Taree Shire Council, with financial and signage assistance of the Heritage Office, installed an interpretative sign to the paddle steamer Manning, visible on the riverbank in Taree. Council coordinated the construction of a large timber platform providing a great viewing opportunity for visitors. The Manning was an iron paddle steamer that operated on the Manning River from 1878 until about 1937. It is the last visible reminder of the heyday of the river days, when centres such as Taree relied soley on riverine and maritime traffic for survival. The wreck site and viewing platform can be reached from the end of Macquarie Street off Victoria Street, and is situated in Queen Elizabeth Park, adjacent to the Aquatic Club, fronting the Manning River.

K IX Submarine, Seal Rocks

The NSW Heritage Office initiated the installation of a plaque commemorating the loss of the submarine K IX at Submarine Beach, following its relocation of the wreck site in 2000. Funding support was obtained from the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Great Lakes Council. The March 23 2001 unveiling ceremony by Urban Affairs & Planning Minister, Dr Andrew Refshauge, involved some 120 guests. Established at the lookout adjacent to the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse at Seal Rocks, guests included Mr Ed Reitsma, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Great Lakes Council staff. Representatives of the Netherlands Ex-Servicemen & Women's Association of Australia, the Submarines Association of Australia, the Naval Association of Australia, DL&WC, NPWS, historical societies, local school children and residents, were also prominent.

Rainbow, Seal Rocks

An iron Admiralty Pattern anchor is established as a memorial to the loss of the Rainbow at Seal Rocks Bay. Located under a pine tree outside the 'Kiosk' at Seal Rocks, the anchor's attribution to the Rainbow is not certain. Several vessels are recorded to have been lost in the immediate area. The Rainbow was a wooden paddle steamer that wrecked on a reef at Boat Beach in 1864, after its anchors dragged. The cargo of pine logs was strewn along the beach and seven of the crew drowned. The ship's boiler visible on the beach below is now thought to mark the wreck of the paddle steamer Trio of 1870. Seal Rocks is accessed from The Lakes Way from either Bulladelah or Forster. The turn off to Seal Rocks is just north of the township of Bungwahl.

South east 

Merimbula, Currarong

A large iron passenger and cargo vessel, the steamer Merimbula crashed ashore on the reef at Whale Point in 1928. The hull subsequently sank back into the water but the shattered bow remains on the reef top, but thrown some 400 metres from the actual wreck site.

The interpretative sign to the Merimbula is located on the edge of the coastal reef flat at Whale Point, Currarong. The point is only accessible by an easy walking track through the Abraham's Bosom Reserve, located off the end of Beecroft Parade, Currarong. One of Merimbula's anchors is on public display in the car park of the Currarong Bowling Club in Currarong Road. A small plaque near the anchor provides some information of the vessel, while the Club has several historic photographs displayed.

Rover, Broulee

The schooner Rover, 87 tons sought the safety of Broulee Bay during a terrific gale on 13 October 1841. The twenty-three persons aboard braved the conditions while anchored during the night. Used to ferry convicts around to different settlements, the Rover was carrying eleven prisoners of the Crown, a military escort of four members from the 28th Regiment, passengers and crew. When the anchors parted, the boat was rolled completely over throwing everyone into the sea. Several died in the incident.

A marker plinth and information sign was established to the mark the event. Situated in the foreshore park fronting Broulee Bay at Broulee, access to the stone marker is via Coronation Drive and across the bridge to Annetts Parade.

Lady Darling, Narooma

The steamer Lady Darling sank south of Montague Island at night in 1880. While the crew reached the safety of the island, the collier was totally lost until discovered by divers in 1986. Heritage Office staff undertook the archaeological recording of the historic shipwreck.

The Mayor of Eurobodalla Shire Council unveiled an interpretative plaque to the Lady Darling shipwreck, in company with Mrs Hazel Hawke, Chair of the New South Wales heritage Council, in 1996. While the ceremony was held at the Narooma Coastal Patrol station, the bronze plaque designed by the Heritage Office and funded by council, was later installed at Narooma. The plaque, together with other coastal environmental interpretative signs, is accessible by foot along the coastal walking trail, leading from Pilot Street.

Missing open boat, Mystery Bay

Mystery Bay south of Narooma gained its unique name when, in October 1880, an empty rowing boat was discovered wrecked ashore. Inside were the crew's belongings, a bullet lodged in the side and vomit across the bows - so the story goes. Adding to the intrigue, the crewmen were never found despite extensive searches. Today the bay has become a popular camping and fishing area. No trace of the boat has been found, probably being recovered in 1880.

A stone marker and plinth commemorating the event has been established on the coastal reserve at Mystery Bay, off Mystery Bay Road, that leads from the Princes Highway. The marker is situated adjacent to the beach near the National Parks & Wildlife camping ground, and was produced with the assistance of the Department of Mineral Resources.

Ly-ee-Moon, Green Cape

A sign marking the events surrounding the terrifying loss of the iron steamer Ly-ee-Moon marks the entrance gates to the Green Cape Lighthouse grounds. The lighthouse is assessible at the tip of Green Cape, via Green Cape Road in the Ben Boyd National Park. Green Cape Road leads from Edrom Road and the Princes Highway. Just before the termination of the partly unsealed road, the historic cemetery to the 71 victims is visible by a small walking track through the scrub on the left side of the road.

Tathra Headland

On Tathra Headland the Bega Valley Shire Council has established signage to two shipwreck events, the Sydney Cove (1797) and to WWII shipping losses off the headland and, in particular, the William Dawes (1942).

TheSydney Cove plaque commemoratessurvivors of that wreck in Tasmania and whopassed Tathra Headland on an epic overland trek to Sydney. The text of the plaque reads, "A desperate Walk to Safety:This plaque recognises the bicentenary of the 17 brave sailors from the Sydney Cove who, in April 1797, walked this coastline as part of their epic 640km trek from Victoria's Gippsland coast to Botany Bay Sydney to seek help for their companions."

The Sydney Cove was wrecked on what is now known as Preservation Island situated of Tasmania's north east coast. The 17 sailors set out in a long boat, which was cast ashore and began their long trek. Three survivors eventually reached Botany Bay.


Dunbar, anchor memorial

The tragic loss of the ship Dunbar at the foot of Sydney's South Head had a lasting effect on the city. The 1857 loss with 121 lives rocked the nation. Contemporary salvage divers visited the wreck which reports suggest, was not rediscovered again until 1907. Two of the ship's anchors and other material was recovered by the steamer Federal in 1910.

One of the bower, or main, anchors is set up as a permanent memorial at "The Gap" in 1930. This anchor underwent conservation treatment in 1992.

A ground-level interpretative plaque has also been established against the cliff fence directly above the wreck site, near Signal Hill Reserve, and visible opposite a residence at 248 Old South Head Road. The plaque was commissioned by the Woollahra History and Heritage Society and unveiled in 1992. It lies adjacent to original cuttings on the cliff-top rock platform, inscribed by visitors to the wreck from 1857. These cuttings should not be visited directly as they lie on the seaward side of the pedestrian safety fence, but can be seen from that barrier.

A marble tablet set high on the walls of St James' Church in Macquarie Street, Sydney, commemorates Captain James Green, Captain of the Dunbar. Access is open to the public.

Cronulla Mall, Cronulla

A series of bronze plaques set into the paving of the Cronulla Shopping Mall commemorate the losses of a number of coastal trading vessels adjacent to the shire. They include coastal steamers such as the Koonya, lost in Bate Bay in 1898. Sutherland Shire Council established the plaques in 1993. The mall fronts The Kingsway at Cronulla.

Queens Wharf, Parramatta

The Heritage Office has assisted in the interpretation of the early riverine history of the Parramatta River as part of the Harris Park Interpretation Master Plan. The Parramatta River saw many maritime "firsts", including the running of the first vessel built in the colony - the Rose Hill Packet in 1789; the first steamer to run in Australia - Surprise of 1831; a horse-powered vessel named Experiment; and the first iron hulled vessel built in Australia - the kit-built Rapid of 1837. A metal photo sign has been erected in Queens Park adjacent to the historic wharf and commemorates the past history of river traffic.

Merchant Seaman's Memorial, Australian National Maritime Museum

Two impressive Admiralty Pattern Long Shanked anchors from the sail training ship Vernon, built 1839, serve as a Sydney-based memorial to Merchant Seamen lost in action aboard ship during World War Two. Perhaps the largest of their type on public display in Australia, the anchors weigh over four and a half tons each. The anchors were recovered from shallow water off Goat Island and set up as a memorial in 1992 with the assistance of BHP.

Tekapo memorial, Maroubra

A memorial to the loss of the Tekapo (May 1889) is located on the paved walkway beside Marine Parade and near the round-about at the north end of Maroubra Beach, Sydney.

The memorial was designed by Randwick Council and consists of an anchor and two obelisks within a circle of sandstone blocks. The obelisks are aligned to point to the wreck site and there is a sighting hole in the rear obelisk. The anchor was recovered in 1986 and conserved using electrolytic treatment.

Commemorative plaque for Lady Darling at Narooma (Photo: D. Nutley)
Commemorative plaque for Lady Darling at Narooma (Photo: D. Nutley)

Some useful guides for more information: