Sydney Cove, a merchant ship, was wrecked at Preservation Island, in the Furneaux Group, on 9 February 1797, while carrying a speculative cargo from Calcutta to Port Jackson, New South Wales. In the aftermath of the wreck, including rescue and salvage operations, there was a total of 25 deaths. Subsequent events included the discovery and exploration of Bass Strait and the establishment of a sealing industry there.
Divers rediscovered the wreck in 1977, and work on the site was a major stimulus to the development of a maritime archaeology programme in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service undertook the excavation of the Sydney Cove between 1991 and 1993. An exhibition on the project was developed by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and travelled to Tasmanian and interstate venues.
Further reading: M Staniforth & M Nash, 'Chinese export porcelain', Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Special Publication 12, 1998; M Nash, 2001, Cargo for the colony, Canberra, 2001; and 'The Sydney Cove shipwreck project', International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 31/1, 2002.