The Wreck of the Yongala

The Wreck of the Yongala

Our next destination was one of the most referred dive sites in Australia, the wreck of the Yongala. The history of this wreck is amazing and as you dive around the ship you cannot help but think of the tragedy that caused it and the final hours of the ship and crew.

SS Yongala

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


SS Yongala
Name: SS Yongala
Launched: 1903
In service: 1903
Out of service: 23 March 1911
Fate: Sunk by cyclone
General characteristics
3,664 tons of some sort[vague]
Length: 350 feet (107 m)
Installed power: Steam
Propulsion: Screw
Speed: 15 knots
Crew: 72
The passenger ship SS Yongala sank off Cape Bowling Green, Queensland, Australia on 23 March 1911. En route from Melbourne to Cairns she steamed into a cyclone and sank south of Townsville. Traces of the ship were found days later as cargo and pieces of wreckage washed ashore at the Cape and at Cleveland Bay, and suggested that the bottom of the ship had been ripped by a hidden rock.[1]

All one hundred and twenty-two people on board perished in what is considered one of the most tragic incidents in Australian maritime history. It was only in 1958 that the wreck of the Yongala was discovered lying in waters south of Townsville, and it has since become renowned as an internationally regarded diving and tourist destination.

I learned that a permit is required to do the dive and spend hours online trying to find out just how to get one to no avail, all four phone numbers sited on government offices, museums and other references are disconnected. I decide that I have done due diligence and go sans permit. Always better to ask forgiveness than permission I always say.

We arrive at the well marked site just as the local dive company is securing a mooring, the operator is very helpful and directs us to the public mooring. Our first attempt does not go well, it appears the mooring is not on the wreck so we do allot of useless bottom time. After we received some more advice from the operator we descend to the wreck. We are escorted down the line by a school of large fish and a few barracudas. When we hit the decks we are greeted by a huge Manta Ray. The ship is full of oh so many species of fish.

We find sea snakes, one huge one, rays, and one monster eel. The beauty of looking up into the sunlight through massive schools of fish is dazzling. We circle the wreck as my computer starts to say, “hey, guys enough time at this depth” so we rise to the upper part of the deck.

Sadly my camera did not cooperate and my pictures are lost in memory land somewhere, must work on using this camera more. The good news is that there are spectacular pictures of this site on the operators website; if you are coming this way I highly recommend using this operator, he was clearly a pro.

The Yongala behind us we did the short run to Bolling Green Spit and anchored just behind the long sandy protrusion as dolphins swam about the boat. We hit the beach and walked along the enjoying the sunset and the white sand in our toes.

Updated 10/19/2017