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Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Inside Port Phillip Open Water Rated Wreck Dive Site

Sailing Schooner | Max Depth: 5 metres (16 feet)

Historic shipwreck protected zone. Permit Required. For more details please see Victorian Shipwreck Protected Zones

Clarence (artistic impression)
© Australian Historic Shipwreck
Preservation Project

The Clarence was a sailing schooner built in 1841 on the Williams River in northern NSW and used to transport livestock and cargo. On 2 September 1850, the Clarence ran aground on a sand bank in Port Phillip Bay while transporting 132 sheep from Melbourne to Hobart.

Diving the Clarence

The Clarence lies on a sandy seabed in 5 metres (16 feet) of water. On a good day the wreck is clearly visible from the surface.

The outline of the vessel is clear apart from the starboard side of the stern which is buried. The port side of the ship from bow to stern, and from keel to deck level is almost complete. The paired frames used as the framework for the hull can be seen poking out of the sand and outline the shape of the wreck.

At the time of its wrecking the Clarence was used to transport sheep. Part of the Baltic pine decking used to accommodate the animals can be seen at the stern on the hull.

Clarence Dive Site Map
Clarence Dive Site Map
© Victoria Archaeological Survey

There is a 100 metres (328 feet) radius Protect Zone with access by permit only. Anchoring is prohibited.

Clarence History

The Clarence is significant technically and archaeologically as an example of an early Australian-built vessel. The schooner was built in 1841 on the Williams River in northern NSW. Most ships built in Australia during this time were constructed by rule of thumb, without using models and plans. There is very little evidence, therefore, of ship building techniques used by early Australian ship builders, except in the archaeological record. By studying the Clarence, archaeologists can learn more about the techniques employed by early Australian shipbuilders, to whom supplies in lumber and metal fastenings were tightly restricted.

See also, Heritage Council Victoria: Clarence,
Heritage Victoria slide collection on flickr: Clarence,
Australian National Shipwreck Database: Clarence and
Dive Information Sheet: Clarence (1841-1850) (Adobe PDF | 225.49 KB).

Latitude: 38° 12.154′ S   (38.20257° S / 38° 12′ 9.25″ S)
Longitude: 144° 43.395′ E   (144.723253° E / 144° 43′ 23.71″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-06-03 04:59:41 GMT
Source: Victorian Government GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Foig a Ballagh, 551 m, bearing 174°, S
Historic shipwreck protected zone.
Permit Required.
Wooden schooner.
Built: Williams River, NSW, 1841.
Sunk: 2 September 1850.
Depth: 5 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.

The Scuba Doctor Air, Nitrox and Trimix Fills

Clear skin and good teeth are fleeting but diving is forever.
— Old diver's proverb