Spanish Silver & Red Herrings

"Jardine's Treasure"

Boot Reef, named by Matthew Flinders, can be found 950 kilometres north of Cairns. In December 2018, the Foundation teamed up with the Australian National Maritime Museum once more and put to sea to investigate 127 year old claims of a Spanish-silver-coin-bearing shipwreck found in 1891 by beche-de-mer vessel, Lancashire Lass, owned by Francis Jardine. He and the captain of the ship, Sam Rowe, were vague about the whereabouts of this “treasure wreck”. Their speculation that this was likely a Spanish vessel based on its cargo of Spanish coins, intrigued the expedition team as there are no known Spanish shipwrecks found in Australian waters to date. A clue in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse Museum) led them to Boot Reef.

Magnetometer and satellite imagery ground-truthing work by the team did indeed locate the remains of a shipwreck – but it was not what the team had expected to find. Post fieldwork analysis and interpretation revealed an entirely different picture.