Sunday, August 9, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

10 Best Shipwrecks You Can Dive in Australia

Over 8000 ships are known to have sunk in the waters around Australia and you can dive right in and get up close and personal with many of them. You can immerse yourself in the secret underwater world while the fish and the other marine life swim in and out of the shipwrecks as you are exploring these magnificent sites.

Here are the 10 best shipwrecks that you can dive in Australia:

1    SS Yongala

This site is considered on of the best shipwreck dives in the world. It is the largest sites and one of the most intact shipwrecks in Australian waters. The SS Yongala sank back in 1911, but it was more than half a century before this shipwreck was discovered. The SS Yongala can be found twelve nautical miles from Alva Beach in Ayr. As you are diving near the ship, you will see giant groupers, trevally, cobia, turtles, and sea snakes.
SS Yongala
2    Tangalooma Wrecks

Sometimes things are done deliberately and this is what happened when fifteen ships were sunk a short distance from the shore of Brisbane’s Moreton Island in 1963. These ships were sunk to create a break wall for small boats. Nowadays they are the perfect place for both divers and snorkelers. While diving near these ships, you will see wobbegongs, kingfish yellowtail, trevally, and tropical fish.
Tangalooma Wrecks
3    Lady Bowen

The Lady Bowen sunk on August 19, 1894 on Kennedy Shoal, which is off Dunk Island. An artificial reef has formed on the ship and it is covered with both soft and hard corals. The hull is clearly visible above the waters, so it is easy to spot as you are approaching by boat. Diving these waters allows you to see giant groupers, sea snakes, rays, sharks, lionfish, and turtles. Despite the beauty of this ship and the surrounding marine life, it is recommended that this dive only be done by experienced divers.
Lady Bowen
4    SS Orizaba

The SS Orizaba found trouble on February 17, 1905 when it ran aground in shallow water as it was travelling from England to Fremantle. Thankfully, all of the passengers and crew survived and the wreck is now situated in seven meters of water. The shallowness of the water makes it perfect for beginner divers.
SS Orizaba
5    St. Paul

The wreck of the steamer ship St. Paul can be found off of Moreton Island. It is one of the most challenging dives in all of Australia, because it lies at the maximum depth for no decompression diving. That doesn’t stop experienced divers from exploring the site of the tragic end of the eighteen people who died on this ship when it hit Smith’s Rock in 1914. This loss of life so close to harbour led to the subsequent installation of a gas-fired illuminated buoy to replace the unlit buoy that was in place at the time of the wreck.
St. Paul
6    RMS Quetta

The RMS Quetta is considered to be one of the worst marine tragedies in Australia. One hundred and thirty-three people died when the ship hit a coral mount and sank in 1899. This shipwreck can be found near the Adolphus Channel in the Torres Strait Islands. If you dive near this shipwreck, you will see trout, cod, angel fish, and barracuda. As soon as you are done diving near the ship, you should consider visiting the All Souls Quetta Memorial Church on Thursday Island. This church was built in memory of the ship.
RMS Quetta
7    Severance

Just off of Lady Elliot Island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef is Severance. Severance is the most intact shipwreck that you will see in Australia. The two-mast sailing boat sunk in 1998 and you can see the remnants of the sail as you are exploring the rest of the ship.
8    The Llewellyn

The Llewellyn mysteriously disappeared under heavy gales between Rockhampton and Bowen in 1919 and no one discovered the shipwreck until 1997. The Llewellyn was a coastal steamer and people who dive this site should be experienced divers.
The Llewellyn
9    Barcoola

Off of the Southern Great Barrier Reef coastline near the Seventeen Seventy is the shipwreck of the Barcoola. The Barcoola sunk in 1994 and ,since the ship is in forty-one meters of water, many people believe that this is a must-do dive while in Australia. You will see cod, groupers, kingfish, giant cobia, rays, bull sharks, and bronze whalers while diving in this area.
10    Cetacea

Not too far from the Barcoola is the shipwreck destination of the Cetacea. This thirteen-meter trawler sank in 1992 and it sits thirty-two meters below the water on the sandy ocean floor. Grouper, rays, tuna, and trevally swim amongst the wreckage, but you shouldn’t be surprised if you see other marine life as well.


These are ten of the best shipwrecks in Australia, but there are many more that you can choose from as well. You will see something unique at each one, plus each one is filled with history from the day that the ship went down.

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