Wreck Dive | Boat access
Level: Open Water and beyond.
The three-masted wooden barque Duke of Wellington was on a voyage from Melbourne to Newcastle for coal when it came into heavy weather. Although the anchors were dropped, the vessel drifted ashore just to the north of Ten Mile Creek, Tarwin Lower. The Duke of Wellington was left high on the beach, and significant wreckage still remains.
The Duke of Wellington shipwreck lies roughly parallel to the beach with its bow pointing to the east. The winch now lies in the shallows and is heavily encrusted with sea growth. The main section of the hull lies just to the seaward and immediately to the west of the winch up against a low flat drying reef.
The keel, and heavier sections of the lower hull, are partly buried in the sand and comprise the main surviving section of the hull. A great mass of chain and two anchors line next to the keel. Two sets of anchor chains run from near the winch through two iron hawse pipes out to seaward, one of them almost to the breakers. On the other side of the keel lies a number of large pulley blocks still intact. About 20 metres towards the stern (west), a number of ribs can be seen protruding from the sand just to seaward of the reef.
It would appear that the hull of the Duke of Wellington began to settle very quickly in the sand after it had run ashore and began to break up. A number of large sections of her upper hull have been washed into Ten Mile Creek, just a short distance to the east, and are exposed from time to time after severe storms. The remains of the Duke of Wellington are subject to being sanded over, which has probably helped to them for so long. Another anchor used to lay in the shallows, just to the east of the winch, but has since been removed to a farm nearby.
Location: Ten Mile Creek, Tarwin Lower, Victoria 3956
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 Duke of Wellington was a wooden three-masted barque of 388 tonnes, built in 1840, in Carlton, New Brunswick, Canada, with the dimensions of 114.5 ft (35 m) in length, a width of 23.0 ft (7.01 m), and of depth of 16.6 ft (5.06 m). At the time of the vessel's demise it was registered in Melbourne unknown by James Orr.
On the vessel's final voyage from Melbourne to Sydney in ballast, it was under the command of Captain Thomas Joseph Augustus Brady. The Duke of Wellington left the heads on Saturday, at 8:00 a.m., with a strong breeze from the north. At noon, the wind shifted to south-west, blowing hard, with thick weather and rain. At 6:00 p.p., not seeing land, and the night looking dirty, double reefed topsails, hauled by the wind, and stood to the southward. Weather clearing off for a few minutes, sighted Wilsons Promontory.
Wind again shifted to the south, weather thick. Wore ship to the west. From 7:00 p.m. to midnight, let go best bower anchor, with 80 fm (146 m) chain. At daylight, on 3 April 1853, blowing fresh from the west, drifted amongst the breakers in 7 fm (13 m), and almost immediately struck heavily. Rudder broken, and false keel knocked off. Parted chain cables, and came broadside on the beach at the top of high water. Got out lifeboat, and landed all hands safe.
On reaching Melbourne the captain reported that when he left the ship, the Duke of Wellington was high and dry at low water, with no possibility of getting it off. It had drifted ashore in the vicinity of Ten Mile Creek, at the eastern end of Venus Bay, with the bulk of the remains lying up against a shallow reef called Wellington Rocks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GPS mark for this dive site is taken from the Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database. It's likely to be very inaccurate. If you have a verified GPS mark, please pass it on to us.
Traditional Owners — This dive site does not lie in the acknowledged traditional Country of any first peoples of Australia.
Duke of Wellington Location Map
Latitude: 38° 49.200′ S (38.82° S / 38° 49′ 12″ S)
Longitude: 145° 52.800′ E (145.88° E / 145° 52′ 48″ E)
Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2022-05-09 14:32:54 GMT
Source: Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database (not verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Magnat, 10,982 m, bearing 337°, NNW
Built: Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada, 1840.
Sunk: 3 April 1853.
Depth: 1 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.