Norfolk Island tourism's Heritage offering has been bolstered with today's elevation of the Sirius shipwreck site to National and Commonwealth Heritage status.

Norfolk Island's Chief Minister, David Buffett joined local school children at the Norfolk Island Central School for a Video Link to participate with Australian Government Environment and Heritage Minister Hon Tony Burke , MP at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

The event also commemorated the 225th Anniversary of the Sirius commissioning.  Today, the HMS Sirius artefacts are mostly all housed in the Norfolk Island Museum.  They compromise the most significant display of First Fleet cultural heritage held anywhere in Australia and its territories.

The new national and Commonwealth heritage listing follows the recent addition of Norfolk Island's Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) to the World Heritage List, as part of the Australian Convict Sites inscription.

Mr Buffett spoke on the Video Link following Mr Burke's announcement of the listing both welcoming and congratulating the Australian Government for its timely initiative.

"The listing properly recognises the significance of the site as this is perhaps Australia's most important shipwreck.  The Sirius' role as the lead ship for the First Fleet places her at the very start, and heart of the Australian Nation," Mr Buffett said.

"And, of course, she was the only link the fledgling communities of Port Jackson and Norfolk Island had to the outside and was critically important to the survival of both colonies," he said.

"It was on our small isolated Island 1500 kilometres north east of Port Jackson that HMS Sirius was lost on 19 March, 1790," the Chief Minister said. 

Her demise caused great distress to both settlements and as Capt Arthur Phillip, Governor of New South Wales recorded at the time,  "You never saw such dismay as the news of the wreck occasioned amongst us all; for, to use a sea term, we looked upon her as our sheet anchor."

"The story of the life and wrecking of HMS Sirius is completed with the story of the recovery of her artefacts from the reef at Norfolk Island.  This rich source provided answers to the circumstances of British Settlement in Australia, the Sirius' construction as a Baltic trader, and the perilous state of the fledgling Nation of Australia when she was lost," Mr Buffett told the children.

Mr Buffett thanked Minister Burke for inviting the Norfolk Island community to be part of this historic occasion.

"The full story of the life, wrecking and recovery of the Sirius artefacts can be found at the Norfolk Island Museum website," the Chief Minister advised.


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