A TWO Rocks resident is concerned a century-old timber wreck on a Yanchep beach has been vandalised.
Ruth Annesley visited the Alex T Brown wreck with her mother on August 17, then returned this week to find it had been damaged.
“We had heard that the 100-year-old wreck of Alex T Brown had been exposed due to the recent winter storms,” she said.
“We’re both keen amateur photographers and took many photos that day; it was quite incredible to see how much sand had shifted, given that the wreck is buried most of the year.
“We returned again Friday night for sunset and a friend of ours visited early Sunday morning.
“Tuesday morning was a clear day so we decided to head back again for another walk.
“This is when we discovered that two sections of the hull ribs had been sawn off by a chainsaw.
“I cannot understand why someone would want to vandalise a local relic.”
Ms Annesley believed the ribs would have been sawn off on Sunday or Monday.
According to WA Museum, the ship was built by Globe Construction in Washington in 1903 and blown ashore in a heavy gale on May 30, 1917 after leaving Fremantle en route to the US.
The timber relic lies on the beach 200m south of The Spot and is listed on the City of Wanneroo’s Local Heritage Survey under category 4, which provides recognition of heritage value and encourages conservation.
The City’s community and place director Debbie Terelinck said the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act of 1976 protected all shipwrecks older than 75 years that rested in federal waters, extending from the low tide mark to the end of the continental shelf.
“The Act also covers all artefacts on land directly associated with an historic-shipwrecking event in federal waters,” she said.
“To support this federal legislation at a State level there is the Maritime Archaeology Act of 1973.
“Having said this, the WA Shipwreck Museum currently has the wreck listed as an unprotected site.”
History of Alex T Brown
ACCORDING to the City of Wanneroo’s Local Heritage Survey, there was no loss of life when the 788 tonne, four-masted wooden schooner was blown ashore south of Wreck Point on May 30, 1917.
“The tug Wyola was sent from Fremantle to try to tow the ship off the beach but was unable to get close enough to carry out the work,” it said.
“Captain Myers and his crew made several unsuccessful attempts to refloat the vessel but were unsuccessful and the ship was washed ashore.
“Henry Dennis, recalled that when the ship was first on the beach, local resident Jim Spiers cut the masts off with a crosscut saw.
“Several early homesteads in the area were built using timber from the wreck.
“The schooner was finally sold to Mr Findlayson for 420 although it is not clear if this was before or after the salvage of the timber.
“Local residents recall that years of strong winds pushed the wreck up the beach until it was buried at a headland called The Spot.
“The Lindsay family burnt the wreck after they tired of people trespassing on their property to reach the wreck.
“The gun carriage given to the Gloucester Lodge Museum in 1984 was believed to be built from timbers from the Alex T Brown and constructed by Jack Otney.”
The survey said the wreck had “little” significance but the place had historic value for its association with the danger of ocean travel in the early 20th Century.
“The wreck site has historic value for its association with the construction of simple houses in the district in the early 20th century from salvage materials,” it said.
“The site as been a landmark in the community since 1917.”