Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Deep Rated Outside Port Phillip Slack Water Subject to Shipping Technical Rated Wreck Dive Site

Steel Hulled Steam Ship | Max Depth: 42 metres (138 feet) — Graveyard

© Unknown

The steel hulled steamer Courier (aka SS Courier) spent 40 years carrying passengers on Port Phillip. She now lies in 42 metres (138 feet) of water in Bass Strait, upright on sand, with her bow facing south. She is an accessible dive to deep-trained recreational divers.

Diving The Courier

As with many of the shipwrecks in the Ships' Graveyard, the hull of the Courier has mostly collapsed. The bow and stern sections are lying over to starboard and are the best preserved parts of the hull. The foredeck still retains a considerable amount of planking, a few deck fittings and some railing on the starboard side. This deck area is quite large and is an impressive sight, standing approximately seven metres off the bottom.

Courier stern, Victoria, Australia
Courier stern, Victoria
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

Immediately behind this, the hull has totally collapsed, leaving the main deck hatch coaming sitting on the bottom. Behind this are the two boilers sitting in line. On days with good visibility the dark shape of the stern can just be seen in the distance, although to see this close up requires a separate dive.

The stem is also an impressive sight, but it is less structurally intact than the bow. The shape of the vessel's counter stern is still recognisable, and just forward of this, there is the remains of some superstructure.

The shipwreck of the Courier is an oasis in the middle of a sandy desert. She is exposed to strong nutrient rich currents and has become an anchor point for many temperate water flora and fauna. Brightly coloured multiformed sponges, anemones, hydrozoans, ascidians and soft corals including masses of bright yellow zoanthids can be seen encrusting any exposed wreckage from bow to stern.

Schooling butterfly sea perch, common bullseye, pairs of oldwives and the occasional blue devilfish have taken up residence and occasionally large crays can be seen at home under the massive boilers.

The Courier shipwreck lies in the area of the ships pilot boarding zone, so is subject to shipping.

SS Courier Wreck from Alan Beckhurst on Vimeo.

Courier History

New Year Cellebrations on the Courier
New Year Cellebrations on the Courier
© Allan Green Collection

The SS Courier was built by C.S. Swan and Hunter in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, and launched in 1887. The SS Courier was built for Huddart Parker Ltd for the Port Phillip excursion trade. She arrived in Melbourne at the end of 1887 to begin running in the Melbourne-Geelong trade in January 1888. The Courier was later also used as an armed auxiliary of the Victorian Navy.

Sinking of the Courier

In 1927 the Courier was sold to Melbourne ship-breakers and stripped of valuable fittings. On 29 March 1928 she was scuttled north-east of the Ships' Graveyard.

The overall length of the Courier was approximately 67.3 metres (221 feet), beam 9.1 metres (30 feet) and draught 3.8 metres (12 feet) with a displacement weight of 660 tonne (728 short tons).

See also, Heritage Council Victoria: Courier,
Australian National Shipwreck Database: Courier, and
MAAV: S.S. Courier 1887-1928.

Latitude: 38° 19.488′ S   (38.324797° S / 38° 19′ 29.27″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.920′ E   (144.582008° E / 144° 34′ 55.23″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-05-12 02:25:14 GMT
Source: Book - Victoria's Ships' Graveyard GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Lost Reef, 860 m, bearing 0°, N
SS Courier, Steel hulled steam ship, 728 ton.
Built: Wallsend-on-Tyne, England, 1887.
Scuttled: 29 March 1929.
Depth: 37 to 42 m.
Dive only on: SWF, SWE.

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.

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