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Centuries-old wrecks found off Queensland

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20 August 2013 by Luke McCormick

Three 18th-century shipwrecks have been found on the Great Barrier Reef in the past four months.

The remains of the three large timber sailing vessels were discovered at three separate locations in the far north of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and off Gordonvale, near Cairns.

The Gordonvale wreck by was found by recreational divers in 40m of water, just north of the Frankland Islands.

Heritage experts are examining the remains. A spokesman for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Bruce Elliot, said the expert investigations would seek to identify the vessels.

"As far as we can tell, all three of them are from the 1800s," he told the Townsville Post.

"All three of them are in relatively good condition for their age and they all appear to be fairly large sailing vessels."

In the past there have been hundreds of incidents involving planes or vessels that had gone missing off Queensland's coastline.

"There are at least 1800 shipwrecks in Queensland waters and the majority of those are actually in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park," he said.

"We normally find between three and four wrecks a year."

Townsville Maritime Museum president Tony Manning said the North Queensland coastline was previously a popular route for all types of vessels, including pearl luggers, which sailed to and from the Torres Strait.

"It was the only means of transport in those days. You had no roads, no railways - everything was on coastal shipping," he said.

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