Wreck Dive | Shore access
Level: Open Water and beyond.
The Casino (aka SS Casino or Cassie) was an iron steamship which transported cargo and passengers between Melbourne and Portland. In 1932 the loss of the SS Casino together with the lives of the captain and 9 crew members deeply affected the communities of Apollo Bay and Port Fairy.
The tragic loss of Casino was felt particularly by people of Victoria's western district. For fifty years, the iron steamship took cargo and passengers between Melbourne and Portland, stopping at Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy. Although the ship's departures and arrivals were seldom punctual, Casino was an important feature of local maritime life.
Casino made 2,500 voyages in the treacherous waters of Bass Strait and was considered one of the "immortals" of Port Phillip. The steamer had several brushes with disaster. It collided with another boat off Point Gellibrand, ran aground on a reef near Grey River, and was beached at Warrnambool while entering Lady Bay in a power blackout. Following each incident, the steamer was repaired and returned to it's west coast run.
On 10 July 1932, Casino sank while trying to secure a mooring at Apollo Bay pier. This time, the steamer could not be saved and the Captain and nine other crew lost their lives.
While the Casino shipwreck can be accessed as a long shore dive when conditions are calm, a boat dive is an easier option.
The SS Casino shipwreck lies in 9 metres of water on a flat sandy seabed at the northern end of Apollo Bay, almost opposite Wild Dog Creek on Victoria's Otway Coast. It lies about 300 m (984 ft) offshore, just beyond the breakers, with its stern to the beach and bow towards the ocean. It lies on its ports side and the remains of the hull are around 50 m (164 ft) long.
The hull is relatively intact at the bow and near the engine and boiler but has collapsed towards the stern, exposing the propeller shaft, steering gear and engine. Other features of the site include lifeboat davits, bollards and masts, Remains of the ship's cargo such as fragile newspapers occasionally appear as sands move across the site, occasionally all but burying it.
Even during periods of low swell and calm conditions the site is continuously subject to wave action. The surge causes the sand to drift across the site and reduces visibility. Bottom surge can also make diving uncomfortable.
The Victorian Maritime Archaeology Unit has placed an information plinth on the hull, next to the boiler on the port side of the vessel.
Location: Apollo Bay, Victoria 3233
Parking: There is a car park off the Great Ocean Road (B100), Apollo Bay between the Apollo Bay Holiday Park and the Apollo Bay Museum.
Warning: Weather conditions at this site vary considerably with very strong winds and squalls frequently occurring. When conditions aren't right, this can be a hazardous area. Always go with a buddy and be extremely careful.
Entry/Exit: From shore at the Apollo Bay Beach. It can also be accessed by boat from the Apollo Bay Breakwater Road Boat Ramp.
Ideal Conditions: This is a very exposed shore dive site, so it should only be dived when the seas are flat and calm with very little swell. Conditions are usually best with light offshore winds, or after a few days of westerlies to northerlies, as surface conditions remain calm.
See WillyWeather (Apollo Bay) as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.
Bass Strait Warning: Always keep an eye on sea conditions throughout any shore or boat dive in Bass Strait on Victoria's coastline. Please read the warnings on the web page diving-in-bass-strait before diving or snorkelling this site.
The Casino was fast and efficient, being powered by steam and sail,built in 1882, by the Gourlay Brothers, of Dundee, Scotland. The S.S. Casino had an overall length of 160.4 ft (49 m) with a beam of 24.1 ft (7.35 m) and draught 10.2 ft (3.11 m), giving a displacement weight of 425 t (468 s-ton).
The Casino was powered by an inverted compound steam engine of 65 hp (48 kW) built by the Gourlay Brothers. The Casino was clinker built, with an elliptical stern and was schooner rigged originally with three masts but in later years this was reduced to two masts.
During a period of almost 50 years, SS Casino made about 2,500 trips between Melbourne and Victoria's western ports carrying farm produce and essential supplies, a record unequalled by any other coastal steamer.
Owned by the Belfast & Koroit Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. for almost 50 years, the SS Casino departed Melbourne on 9 July 1932 for the western Victorian ports of Apollo Bay, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland with two passengers, 17 crew and 240 tons of cargo under the command of Captain John Middleton.
On Sunday 10 July 1932 at Apollo Bay, a strong south-easterly gale and heavy seas made berthing difficult. To bring Casino alongside, the captain dropped the port anchor which would allow the vessel to swing around next to the pier. The sea carried the vessel over the anchor, and in the following trough, the anchor fluke pierced the hull. Unaware, the captain abandoned his attempt and steamed away. The ship began to list to port and the captain turned towards the shore in the hope of beaching the Casino. The list increased, and the two lifeboats launched were smashed against the ship's sides and swamped, drowning some of the crew.
Water flooded the hold and 370 metres from the beach, the ship rolled over and sank. The five crew below were drowned. The others swam for shore. The captain and four crew returned to the hull, but were swept away in the rising tide before help could arrive. Several Apollo Bay residents on the shore attempted heroic rescues at great personal risk. Nine people were saved from the raging surf and ten were lost, including the stewardess who had fitted life jackets to her passengers but did not have time to fit her own.
The Belfast & Koroit Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. purchased the steamer Coramba to replace the Casino only to lose it in 1936 off Phillip Island.
The SS Casino is historically significant for its vital role in the Western District coastal and passenger trade. This significance is enhanced by the longevity of the Casino's service to this trade — it was wrecked on the eve of celebrating its 50th anniversary. In September 1998 the wreck of the SS Casino and its associated relics were permanently specially declared to be of historic significance. Of the total of eighteen steamships that served the Western District between 1854 and 1939, there are only four of these vessels represented in the Victorian wreck resource: the SS Champion, TSS Coramba, SS Julia Percy (SS Leeuwin) and the SS Casino. The Casino and Champion are the only two of these wrecks that are located in the Western District, and the Casino is the only one of these that has been located and is accessible to divers.
See also, Heritage Council Victoria: SS Casino,
Heritage Victoria slide collection on flickr: SS Casino,
Australian National Shipwreck Database: S.S. Casino,
Dive Information Sheet: SS Casino (1882-1932),
Shipwrecks of Apollo Bay and Surrounds, and
Wreck of the Casino in "Shore Dives of Victoria" by Ian Lewis, 3rd edition pages 14–15.
This vessel is one of the many historic shipwrecks included in Victoria's shipwreck-discovery-trail. Qualified divers can explore the wrecks of old wooden clippers, iron steamships and cargo and passenger vessels located along the coast and in Port Phillip. Some of these wreck dives are suitable for beginners, even snorkellers, while other wrecks require the skills and experience of advanced divers.
Heritage Warning: Any shipwreck or shipwreck relic that is 75 years or older is protected by legislation. Other items of maritime heritage 75 years or older are also protected by legislation. Activities such as digging for bottles, coins or other artefacts that involve the disturbance of archaeological sites may be in breach of the legislation, and penalties may apply. The legislation requires the mandatory reporting to Heritage Victoria as soon as practicable of any archaeological site that is identified. See Maritime heritage. Anyone with information about looting or stolen artefacts should call Heritage Victoria on (03) 7022 6390, or send an email to email@example.com.
Over the years we've been provided with many GPS marks for the Casino. The GPS marks we know of in circulation for the Casino are:
In April 2021 we adopted Packo's Google Earth recommendation for the Casino GPS mark, instead of the one we were previously using which is now thought to be from an AGD66 datum.
Latitude: 38° 44.600′ S (38.743333° S / 38° 44′ 36″ S)
Longitude: 143° 40.750′ E (143.679167° E / 143° 40′ 45″ E)
248 m, bearing 217°, SW
Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Eastern Maar people of south-western Victoria between the Shaw and Eumerella Rivers and from Yambuk in the south to beyond Lake Linlithgow in the north. This truly ancient Country extends as far north as Ararat and encompasses the coastal townships of Port Fairy in the west, Warrnambool, Peterborough, Port Campbell, Apollo Bay, Lorne, and Airies Inlet in the east, including the Great Ocean Road area. It also stretches 100 metres out to sea from low tide and therefore includes the iconic Twelve Apostles. "Eastern Maar" is a name adopted by the people who identify as Maar, Eastern Gunditjmara, Tjap Wurrung, Peek Whurrong, Kirrae Whurrung, Kuurn Kopan Noot and/or Yarro waetch (Tooram Tribe) amongst others. We wish to acknowledge the Eastern Maar as Traditional Owners. We pay respect to their Ancestors and their Elders, past, present and emerging.
Casino Location Map
Latitude: 38° 44.494′ S (38.741569° S / 38° 44′ 29.65″ S)
Longitude: 143° 40.855′ E (143.680918° E / 143° 40′ 51.3″ E)
Datum: WGS84 | Google Map | Get directions
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2022-05-07 01:11:23 GMT
Source: Google Earth
Nearest Neighbour: Seafarers Beach, 1,956 m, bearing 51°, NE
Built: Scotland, 1882.
Sunk: 10 July 1932.
Apollo Bay, Otway Coast.
Depth: 9 m.
DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.
The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.