A CONSERVATION Order on a century-old timber shipwreck in Yanchep means vandals could face penalties up to $1 million and two years in prison.
A gale blew the Alex T. Brown ashore in 1917 and the wreck is usually buried under sand on the beach south of The Spot.
WA Museum started an investigation for greater protection last year after the Times reported the wreck had been vandalised when exposed following storms.
Two Rocks resident Pam Annesley and her daughter Ruth discovered the damage in August 2017, caused by someone using a chainsaw to cut off the ribs.
“Ruth and I come down here regularly; we are always taking photos,” she said.
“I enjoy coming down here to take photos and keep an eye on it – it’s worth preserving for the history of the area.”
On Tuesday, Heritage Minister David Templeman is due announce a Conservation Order over the wreck, which prohibits demolition, damage or alteration.
“The Conservation Order will help the WA Museum to protect the wreck of the Alex T. Brown, which is of great significance to the maritime history of WA, from any further damage,” he said.
“The wreck tells an important story associated with the development of the northern Perth area, as simple houses and homesteads in the Wanneroo district built during the early 20th century used materials salvaged from it.
“People who damage a place that is protected by a Conservation Order can be prosecuted with a $1 million fine and two years’ imprisonment.”
Mr Templeman said more “cultural warriors” like the Annesleys were needed to keep an eye on historical sites, and that the wreck was “in relatively good nick”.
“The ship has laid here for 101 years; people need to respect the fact it’s here,” he said.
“These things are important to protect.”
History of the Alex T. Brown
The Alex T. Brown was a 788-tonne, four-masted wooden schooner built in Washington, USA in 1903.
Sailing from Fremantle to Manila, the ship was blown ashore during a gale on May 29, 1917 and could not be re-floated.
WA Museum experts say that the wreck is rare, one of only two four-masted schooners wrecked in Australia.
It lies on a beach above the high-water mark and, when exposed during winter storms, is one of the few shipwrecks visible to the public along the metropolitan coast.
Materials from the wreck are believed to have been used to build the stables and men’s quarters at the Mary Lindsay Homestead, which the City of Wanneroo recently redeveloped as a community arts centre.
The Two Rocks Yanchep Culture and Arts Network, chaired by Pam Annesley, uses the homestead as a gallery and for workshops.