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In the corner of a beachside park in the seaside town of Queenscliff on the south coast of Victoria, Australia, is a sturdy 12-ft upright wooden post, painted white, with a ladder bolted against it and leading up to a large iron bell. Fixed on the post is a slightly faded but still forbidding sign which warns that “Any person found ringing the bell except in the case of shipwreck or marine disaster will be prosecuted—by order Port Office”. To the casual visitor, the bell is just another part of the heritage furniture of the town. However, to the older Queenscliff community, the wreck bell symbolizes an age when shipping mishaps were a pivotal component of their social, economic and symbolic lives.