Achaeologists inspecting the stove from HMS PandoraMuseum researchers are digitising the legacy of one of Australia’s most infamous shipwrecks HMS Pandora, wrecked in the far northern Great Barrier Reef in 1791. Well-known for its association with the Mutiny on the Bounty story, Pandora has both national and global significance. 

Found in 1977, HMS Pandora was extensively investigated by the Queensland Museum from 1979 to 1999. A total of 9 seasons, spanning months resulted in over 6,000 artefacts held within the state maritime archaeology collection housed at Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville. To complete excavations, archaeologists record as much as possible – preserving the site, information and layout of artefacts to reconstruct the ship and reveal stories hidden for centuries. The museum holds an archive of ​Pandora material including: films, colour slides, black and white negatives, x-rays, site plans and maps, field registration books, dive logs, field journals, artefact illustrations and much more. Museum researchers have begun digitising the entire archive and making it publicly accessible via the Queensland Museum Network Image Library. A preview of images from the 1980s are available now on the public library.


The digitised material will be invaluable for archaeological research, management of the site, exhibitions and collaborative projects.

Achaeologists discussing and planning HMS Pandora field work  

Images: Patrick Backer, Queensland Museum 1984.