Anchor points to convict-shipwreck find

Anchor points to convict-shipwreck find

The location of a convict ship that sank in the Torres Strait off northern Queensland two centuries ago may have been discovered.

A heavily encrusted anchor found by scuba diver Hubert Hofer has led him to believe he has found the 512-ton Governor Ready, which struck a coral reef on 18 May, 1829. The 65-year-old wreck historian had been on a long-term quest to locate the ship.

Now Hofer has told the Cairns Post that he is “99% sure” that the anchor, which he found 7m deep on a reef in Cumberland Passage, is from the Governor Ready.

The Canadian-built merchant vessel was returning from her second convict-transportation voyage, carrying 200 men from Ireland to Sydney, and was bound for Batavia (now Jakarta). Captain John Young and his crew survived the sinking and reached Timor after two weeks at sea.

Hofer was born in Austria but moved to Australia in his 20s after reading about the Great Barrier Reef, eventually settling on Thursday Island. Having devoted almost four decades to searching for the Governor Ready through a combination of diving and research, he described the discovery as his “parting gift to maritime history”.

Hofer told the newspaper that, despite the years of exhaustive research, it was only when he happened to be near the location of the anchor reading a journal written by ship’s surgeon Thomas Wilson that “it all of a sudden became clear”.

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