The Silentworld Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation with a focus on supporting and promoting Australasian maritime archaeology, history, culture and heritage.

Current projects


Our interest and work is centered mainly on, but is not restricted to, Australian indigenous contact with non-European groups prior to European settlement, initial European contact and the early colonial era. The evolution of understanding regarding the extent and shape of  the ‘great southern land’, early exploration of the coasts and surrounding seas, settlement and use as a penal colony all led to the development of Australia into the modern country it is today. We are interested in uncovering and telling the stories of that past within the wider context of Australia’s place in the region. The Foundation’s interests are academic and work is carried out to internationally recognised professional standards.




John Mullen


John grew up in Portugal and Spain as a boy and developed a love for the sea and history at an early age.

John has had a long business career, but his passion remains the ocean and especially early Australian Maritime history. 20 years ago John and his wife Jacqui established the Silentworld Foundation dedicated to maritime archaeology and the discovery of early colonial shipwrecks.

The Foundation operates a private museum dedicated to understanding our nation’s early maritime history and supports annual expeditions and other ventures seeking a greater understanding of our past.

Jacqui Mullen


Lesley Howlett


Born into a sea-faring family in a coastal town on the mid-north-western coast of the UK. Lesley emigrated to Australia in the 1960s and had a working career predominantly in transport, shipping and logistics. She has a keen interest in early Australian history, particularly maritime history.

Irini 'Renee' Malliaros


Irini (Renee) Malliaros, having been born in the heart of Sydney, spent her formative years in a small village on one of the Greek islands – the sea having a constant and magnetic presence during that time. On her subsequent return to Australia, it was no surprise that she began her academic career in biological sciences (specifically the marine environment) at Macquarie University in Sydney. With a background in a culture stemming from the ancient world, an interest in archaeology was almost inevitable, and so, with a nudge from an old friend and mentor, she undertook her Masters degree in Maritime Archaeology at Bournemouth University in the UK.

She has been involved in maritime heritage projects on sites ranging from late 16th century to the Second World War, and geographically from the UK to Australia; remote locations of the Coral Sea and Torres Strait; and more recently the US and Indonesia. The study of ‘black reefs’ at remote shipwreck sites has been her recent focus, as it combines elements of both her disciplines of interest. ‘Black reefs’ is a phenomenon visible even from space via satellite imagery, in which the reef around a shipwreck appears dark in colour owing to a change in the benthic community – a direct cause of the shipwreck’s presence in that environment. On weekends she swaps to her dinghy and yacht sailor’s hat or into her historically accurate attire for living history re-enactments.

Heather Berry


Heather Berry is a conservator at the Silentworld Foundation.

She is a PADI divemaster and graduated with a Master of Cultural Materials Conservation from the University of Melbourne in 2019. She is currently pursuing further research as a PhD Student at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne.

Heather has always had a deep passion for the underwater landscape, as well as history and science, and is honoured to be able to work with an organisation that allows her to combine these three passions. Heather lives in Melbourne with her partner and their 5 guinea pigs.

Michael Gooding


As a Captain for Silentworld Charters, Michael has experienced the wonders of Oceania first-hand and has cruised around this special region for nearly 30 years. His role as Captain includes being a part of the not-for-profit Silentworld Foundation.

The Silentworld Foundation annually undertakes an expedition that highlights the unique history of the South Pacific region and raises awareness for the stories that each expedition discovers.

Combining his passion for the sea, exploration and maritime archaeology, Michael has helped create some special experiences for those on board Silentworld, showing how we can use yachts to truly engage with and protect the oceans we sail on.

Benjamin Wharton

Research Assistant

Benjamin Wharton

Benjamin Wharton


Benjamin Wharton is an archaeologist in the Greater Sydney Region, with a trade background in engineering as well as architectural draughting.

He has a varied high-level skill set which combined with some practical experience in historical vessel maintenance, led Ben to be requested for work on the Barangaroo and Windsor Boats excavations. He was an integral part of each of these projects for the recovery, and recording of the timbers.

Post fieldwork, he remained on both projects contributing to writing the descriptions and interpretation, as well as producing the lines of the boats.