Swal­lowed by his pas­sion

Cockburn Gazette - - BUSINESS -

AT 69, Graeme Hen­der­son is still div­ing in pur­suit of lon­glost ship­wrecks.

In fact, his lat­est book Swal­lowed by the Sea de­tails Aus­tralia’s most fa­mous ship­wrecks, fea­tur­ing im­ages and doc­u­ments from the Na­tional Li­brary and in­cludes his div­ing ex­pe­ri­ences at wrecks like the Pan­dora and the Batavia.

Hen­der­son dis­cov­ered his first ship­wreck by ac­ci­dent when spear-fish­ing as a 16year-old with his dad and brother near Ledge Point.

“I jumped in and I saw bricks on the seabed so I put one into my wet­suit and car­ried on be­cause I didn’t want to miss the fish,” he said.

“Then I saw all these ele­phant tusks –I didn’t im­me­di­ately recog­nise them so I got the oth­ers to come and we took one back and re­alised it was from the Gilt Dragon, a Dutch ship from 1656.”

Hen­der­son said the dis­cov­ery gained him lo­cal no­to­ri­ety, and when his univer­sity lec­turer years later asked him what he wanted to do in life, he said he had no idea but he had found a ship­wreck.

The lec­turer sug­gested he ap­proach the WA Mu­seum for a job, which he did.

He se­cured a job as a tem­po­rary diver, even­tu­ally go­ing on to de­velop a colo­nial ship­wrecks pro­gram.

Hen­der­son be­came the first di­rec­tor of the Mar­itime Mu­seum, a po­si­tion he held for 13 years be­fore re­tir­ing in 2009.

Now he is part of not-for­profit group called Wreck Check which is look­ing for wrecks re­lated to Aus­tralia that are not on the im­me­di­ate shore­line.

“It’s a won­der­ful way to spend one’s life,” Hen­der­son said.

The mar­itime ar­chae­ol­o­gist and 2002 WA Cit­i­zen of the Year said div­ing was a great pas­sion he shared with his late fa­ther, who cov­ered ship­wrecks as part of his job as a jour­nal­ist.

Swal­lowed by the Sea is avail­able from all good book­stores and the Mar­itime Mu­seum.

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek d459624

Author Graeme Hen­der­son with his book.

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