Australia has an extremely rich maritime history and yet despite the tremendous efforts over the years of many institutions throughout Australia, we still know surprisingly little about the wrecking of many historically important vessels known to have been lost in or near Australia. There also remains a great deal to be discovered about early seafarers’ contacts with Australia, from Macassar traders and the explorers from Spain, The Netherlands, Britain, France and other nations, through to eventual colonisation with the arrival of the first fleet in 1788. The reefs and shoals that surround our coastline are literally dotted with wrecks, more than some 6,000 by some counts, and yet only a small percentage of these have ever been found, identified, researched, and properly documented.
Funding for institutional research and especially field work is always limited and the subject so extensive that there is inevitably a constraint to the work that museums and universities can undertake. The Silentworld Foundation attempts to support the efforts of institutions, companies and individuals seeking to know more about our maritime past, through providing financial and physical support to projects and general research. In particular, the Foundation targets its support activities towards field work and the active search for, and identification of, shipwrecks of particular historical interest to Australia.