A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

Australia Project

March 5, 2008

03/06/08 Lecture: Maritime Archaeology in Portarlington, Australia

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The first of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project lecture series for 2008 will take place at the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum on Thursday, March 6, at 6 pm. LAMP Director of Archaeology Dr. Sam Turner will present a slideshow lecture titled "Maritime Archaeology in Portarlington, Australia."

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February 19, 2007

Magnetometer Survey on the Beach

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Those of you who have been following my blog about the Flinders University maritime archaeology field school in South Australia know that the students have been divided up into three groups (Red, Yellow, and Green teams). These different teams continue to rotate through three primary areas to gain a variety of experience on different kinds of maritime archaeological sites. Teams have been diving and mapping the remains of the Star of Greece shipwreck in Port Willunga, they have been recording the historic pier and baths at Victor Harbor, and have been mapping the remains of the Showboat wreck on the mud flats at Hindmarsh Island. But in addition to these three, there is another project, the magnetometer survey at Middleton Beach.

Many of those who have followed LAMP’s exploits over the years know that magnetometers are devices that can be towed behind a boat, to search a large area of the seafloor for historic shipwrecks. Magnetometers record the intensity of the earth’s magnetic field, which is distorted by the presence of ferrous material (iron or steel). Thus, a wreck with significant amounts of iron (cannons, anchors, nails or bolts) can be detected by this means.

But there are also versions of the magnetometer that can be used on land. This technology can be especially useful to locate the remains of beached shipwrecks, or wrecks that went down on shoals which have over time become islands (such is the case with Conch Island off St. Augustine).

On February 8th, I accompanied the students of Green Team as they did their part to search for the Emu, a shipwreck that wrecked in 1853 as it attempted to seek safe haven in Port Elliot. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, Port Elliot was not a very safe harbor, and the Emu was one of many ships plying that trade that went down. The Emu is especially interesting as it was built in Australia relatively early, in 1841. Historic photographs show its remains partially buried in the sand dunes at Middleton Beach, just east of Port Elliot.

Today Middleton Beach is popular with surfers and beachgoers. It boasts beautiful views of the bluffs of Port Elliot in the background. On a rough day like today, it is easy to see how a sailing ship could come to peril in these turbulent waters.


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February 13, 2007

The History of the Fleurieu Peninsula and Victor Harbor

Posted by: Chuck Meide

I have now been staying in Victor Harbor with the Flinders University maritime archaeology field school for seven days. I thought I’d share a little bit of the history of this fantastic place. First I’ll set the stage by showing you exactly where we are.

Here is a map of Australia showing the location of the state of South Australia:


All of the major cities are shown, including the capital of South Australia, Adelaide. This bustling city is also the location of Flinders University (or “Uni,” as the locals call it).

South of Adelaide is the Fleurieu Peninsula. We will be based at Victor Harbor, on the southeast coast of the peninsula, but will be working at various locations throughout the peninsula, as seen below:


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February 6, 2007

Diving on the Star of Greece

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Today I am a member of the Green Team. All of the students in the Flinders maritime field school have been divided up into three groups—the Green, Red, and Yellow teams. Each group of 3-4 students will work at one of three different areas—the Star of Greece wreck site at Port Willunga, the nineteenth century baths and pier at Victor Harbor, and the Showboat wreck and pier remains at Hindmarsh Island some 20 km east of Victor Harbor. Each team will rotate so that everyone gets to work at each of the three areas.

Today I will be diving on the wreck of the Star of Greece. This iron-hulled, three-masted sailing ship was one of the fastest and most renowned ships in the Star Line. She was 1227 tons and built in Belfast, Ireland in 1868. The picture below comes from a contemporary painting of the ship.

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February 1, 2007

Bound for South Australia!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

In South Australia I was born,
Heave away! Haul away!
In South Australia ‘round Cape Horn!
We’re bound for South Australia!

Heave away, you rolling king!
Heave away! Haul away!
All the way you’ll hear me sing
We’re bound for South Australia!

-- traditional sea chantey

Hello everyone out there. This is my first appearance on the new LAMPposts blog, and it is the special Australian edition!

First, a little about myself. My name is Chuck Meide, and I am the Director of LAMP, or the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program. LAMP is the research arm of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. I am from Atlantic Beach, Florida—about a 45 minute drive north of St. Augustine—and I am a maritime archaeologist by trade. I went to school at Florida State University for my undergrad and master’s degree, and am currently completing my PhD studies through the College of William and Mary. After finishing my coursework there, I applied for and was offered the job of running LAMP, an offer I couldn’t refuse. So in February of last year I moved from Williamsburg, Virginia back home to Florida’s First Coast.

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