HMS Pandora

HMS Pandora was the Royal Navy warship dispatched to the South Pacific in pursuit of the infamous Bounty mutineers. Today, the mutiny on the Bounty remains one of the best-known stories in the history of seafaring.

Few, however, are aware of the epic story of the Pandora. Few know of the extraordinary efforts of the Royal Navy to recover the “pirated” Bounty, and bring the mutineers to justice. Few appreciate the archaeological significance of the wreck.

In her day, HMS Pandora was a prized and proud member of the Royal Navy. Today the Pandora is one of the most significant shipwrecks in the Southern Hemisphere. The Queensland Museum has been excavating the wreck and piecing together the Pandora puzzle since 1983.

Here we present an overview of the Pandora’s voyage, the history that surrounds it and the Queensland Museum’s ongoing conservation, interpretation and research. We answer intriguing questions including:

  • What is the full story of HMS Pandora?
  • What did she look like?
  • What was it like onboard?
  • How did her crew live at sea?
  • How did they locate and capture most of the Bounty mutineers?
  • How did such a large ship and experienced crew come to be wrecked?
  • How did so many mutineers survive as castaways on the beach in the South Pacific?
  • How has the Museum excavated the wreck and conserved the artefacts it recovered?
  • What happened to the ship’s cat?
  • Who was “Harry”?

The story of HMS Pandora (325 KB) pdf document icon
Learn the story of Pandora including:

  • Her mission
  • Captain Bligh’s remarkable story of survival
  • The Bounty mutineers
  • Capturing the Bounty mutineers
  • Pandora’s vessel specifications
  • The night Pandora hit the Great Barrier Reef
  • Survival and the human toll

Pandora's crew (219 KB) pdf document icon
This document details the 135 crew members of HMS Pandora, from Captain Edward Edwards to seamen, the doctor and volunteers.

Histories (115 KB) pdf document icon
Explore some of the stories and histories, myths and mysteries that surround the sagas of the Bounty and HMS Pandora, including:

  • Why the mutiny? Why did the crew of the Bounty mutiny against Captain Bligh?
  • What happened after the mutiny?
  • The Pandora's figurehead has never been found. What might it have looked like?
  • What happened to the ship's cat? She survived the wreck. What became of her after that?

The wreck (122 KB) pdf document icon
The Pandora wreck lay undetected for almost 200 years. Today, it's one of the most significant shipwrecks in the Southern Hemisphere. Museum staff who excavated the wreck would tell you it's also one of the most challenging! Explore more about:

  • Rediscovery - Who found the Pandora?
  • The location - See where the Pandora lies today.
  • What remains of the hull and is the Pandora still intact?
  • Will the Pandora ever be raised?
  • Legislation & dive permits. How can you visit the Pandora?

Archaeology (185 KB) pdf document icon
There are many reasons why the Pandora is regarded as one of the most significant shipwrecks. Find out more about Pandora’s significance to:

  • History
  • Maritime Archaeology
  • Conservation science
  • Education
  • Cultural tourism

Also find out more about the research design, methodology, fieldwork and excavation involved with this project.

Conservation (135 KB) pdf document icon
The Museum undertakes interventive and preventive conservation practices to study, interpret and preserve natural and cultural history collections housed at the Museum, including the Museum’s Maritime Archaeology section. Find out more about the conservation of objects from Pandora including:

  • On site conservation
  • Conservation practices undertaken in the laboratory
  • Conservation techniques
  • Dealing with organic and inorganic objects

Pandora Foundation (72 KB) pdf document icon

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.