Save the Cerberus
Web push for shipwreck
by June Yu
A new push to raise the shipwreck HMVS Cerberus in Half Moon Bay
posted on a defence Web site.
The Defending Victoria site, the brainchild
of Victorian Ian MacFarlane, feat-
ures a page entitled Save the Cerberus, and urges people to lobby
Government for funding to make the project happen.
Mr MacFarlane said much international interest
had been shown in the preserv-
ation of the 130-year-old Cerberus despite "official indifference"
during past camp-
aigns to save it.
"I've got this American guy who is
asking why we aren't demonstrating in front
of the local council to save the wreck," he said.
He said the same man had proposed a salvage
technique using foam which was
different from former proposals to use foam.
"People think of foam as a flotation
device but this one is meant to stabilise the
ship to allow it to be moved," he said.
Mr MacFarlane also hoped Premier Steve Bracks
would be keen to support the
restoration of the Cerberus.
"Steve Bracks comes from Williamstown
where the navy was focused, so maybe
he would take an interest in it," he said.
Bayside Mayor Graeme Disney was sceptical
about the foam technique, but was
keen to resurrect the campaign to save the Cerberus.
Cr. Disney believed the shipwreck possibly
had until only the end of the year
before it was broken up by bad weather.
He said he would be interested in again
trying to get the first $2 million needed
to raise and stabilise the shipwreck by jacking it up to normal
floating level and
supporting the ship on piles.
Restoration works and a visitor centre
to come later would take the project up
to $10 million.
National Trust chairman Simon Molesworth
said the issue of the Cerberus would
not go away.
"Bayside cannot turn its back on the
ship. If it did so, it would be an international
crime and it would also reflect very poorly on Australia as a nation
in cherishing its
heritage," he said.
He believed the project would need the support
of several government depart-
"Mary Delahunty (Education Minister)
should see educational opportunities of
the Cerberus to be a classroom into history and Sherryl Garbutt
Conservation Minister) should see it as an opportunity to safeguard
one of the
Crown's assets," he said.
"John Thwaites, as minister in charge
of heritage, should see it as an opportunity
to preserve the historic shipwreck and John Pandazopoulos should
see it as a tour-
A Spokesman for Sherryl Garbutt said the
Minister's department had been advis-
ed that Heritage Victoria was of the opinion that an attempt to
restore the Cerberus
was unlikely to be successful.
Ship a national story
HMVS Cerberus is not just a Victorian story, but a national story,
chairman Simon Molesworth says.
The Cerberus, completed in 1870, arrived
in Melbourne on April 9, 1871, and was
stationed in Port Phillip Bay to keep hostile raiders at bay.
"It is not often appreciated that the Cerberus
was part of a belief that Russia was
going to take over Australia and part of a rivalry between France
and Britain and
was once the strongest armed ship in the world," Mr Molesworth
"Some people say she was a fizzer because
she never went to war, but she was
never intended to go to war. She was always intended to be a deterrent
and was plac-
ed in Port Phillip Bay as the strongest ship of her day and no one
came to challenge."
He said Victoria, lagging behind NSW as
a colony, had expanded greatly with the
discovery of gold, and the Cerberus was a symbol of that colonial
At Federation, the Cerberus, flagship of
the Victorian navy, was given to the Comm-
onwealth to make up part of Australia's first naval force, although
it remained in Port
In 1926, Sandringham Council purchased the
Cerberus from the Commonwealth
Government for a breakwater at Half Moon Bay at the request of the
"She was flooded on a shallow sandbank.
She was such a huge wall of iron that it
was a fast and cheap way of getting a breakwater," he said.
Mr Molesworth has been part of five committees
to save the Cerberus, which is
breaking up and subsiding.
He said the last advisory committee managed
to get the support of the Kennett
Government to have the Cerberus as a preferred project for Centenary
ation funding, but this was rejected at the last moment.
"Unfortunately, the Prime Minister
has a Sydney-centric approach to the Cent-
enary celebrations….," Mr Molesworth said.
"But the silly thing is that the Cerberus
is an Australian story, not just a Vict-
orian story. It is the last surviving flagship of a colonial navy
in the world.
"It was the second ship through the
Suez Canal. It was the prototype on which
all modern steel ships were based and adopted an approach which
led to the devel-
opment of the submarine.
"He said detractors of the ship's restoration
believed it would cost too much,
but he believed it would cost more in the long run to do nothing.
"If you leave it like it is, it is
a safety responsibility of the City of Bayside. So,
if it collapses, who's going to foot the bill to move it or make
He said the Cerberus could be turned into
a public tourist attraction and linked
with other renowned historic sites, and could bring tourist revenue
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