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DUNBAR Historic Shipwreck Collection




A collection of approximately 5,000 artefacts recovered from the site of the historic shipwreck the DUNBAR off Dunbar Head at South Head by a recreational diver in the 1960s. The collection includes coin, jewellery, ship's fittings, furniture components, clothing accessories such as buckles and buttons and components of the ship's general cargo. Along with a group of associated material such as newspaper clippings, eye witness accounts and memorabilia associated with the event.

The 1850s was a period of great social and economic growth in Australia spurred on by the gold rush. This economic climate and demand for passenger ships persuaded the well known ship-owner Duncan Dunbar to finance the construction of a new clipper ship. In May 1857 the DUNBAR departed London for its second voyage to Australia, carrying more than 120 passengers and crew and a substantial cargo. The vessel arrived off the coast of New South Wales on the 20 August 1857 and was wrecked at Dunbar Head. The collection includes remnants of the cargo such as furniture handles, castors, lock plates, reinforcing bands and hinges, saddlery brasses, buckles and spurs, firearms components like flints, musket shot, cartridge ammunition and gunlocks and general trade goods such as trading tokens, taps, lighting components and Vesta cases as well as the personel effects of the passengers and crew including gold dentures, jewellery, holed coins and tokens, writing implements and clothing remnants such as belt, braces and shoe buckles and clothing buttons. The effect of the DUNBAR wreck on Sydney is evident by the associated eyewitness accounts, lithographs, paintings, poems, narratives and accounts in the DUNBAR Shipwreck Collection. Besides the pamphlets and brochures other items also appeared in Sydney as part of the memorabilia associated with the tragedy. Contemporary salvers acquired bits of the vessel and manufactured items out of the wreck including a chair and picture frame also in the collection.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM website


1857; Artefacts; Colonisation

Clothing; Clothing accessories; Coins; Jewellery

Immigration; Shipwrecks

Coverage Spatial

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; United Kingdom

Coverage Temporal



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