Wreck Dive | Shore access
Level: Open Water and beyond.
The Eivion shipwreck at Rye Pier is historically significant as an intra-Port Phillip lime and timber trader and for its association with its owner Benjamin Stenniken, the 'mayor' of Rye.
The lime trade carried out along the Mornington Peninsular and on the shores of Corio Bay and Stingaree Bay was a thriving industry with huge profits made. The lime produced from primitive kilns was in demand in Melbourne and the lime trader sailing vessels were kept busy transporting it. Beginning in the mid to late 1830s, the trade existed for approximately 90 years.
The Eivion is archaeologically significant as the remains of the hull and cargo exhibit aspects of stowing of bagged lime, including the use of bulkheads and possibly limewashed holds to minimise water ingress to the vessel. As part of a maritime and terrestrial landscape, it is in proximity to White Cliffs at Rye which produced lime and has remains of historic lime kilns. It is recreationally and educationally significant as the coherent remains of a wooden vessel within swimming distance from Rye Pier and lies in snorkelling depth.
The Eivion lies within swimming distance to the east (right) of Rye Pier, at a snorkelling depth of about 2 metres. It can be spotted from up on the pier (about halfway) as a dark patch. Eivion rests in a sandy seabed and is well covered with seaweed and hosts an abundance of life including small mysid shrimp and stingarees. It is often home to many nudibranchs, rays and small fish. Something nice to change things up, or to head to on a second dive at Rye Pier.
The Eivion shipwreck site is dominated by two large mounds of bagged lime. At either end of the wreck site are the remains of cant-timbers. Surrounding the lime, along the starboard side is fragmentary remains of hull structure, ceiling planking supported by futtocks, and various unidentifiable iron concretions.
The lime, long converted to calcium carbonate, is readily identifiable, as it is white and powdery and extremely fragile to the touch. Along the starboard side, forward of the inner hull ceiling planking are the fragile remains of a hessian lime bag. Indications are that parts of the site, especially the ceiling planking, and areas of lime, have only recently been exposed.A bluestone ballast mound is located in the stern area between the sternpost and stern lime bag mound. The remains of a wooden rudder are also visible at the stern.
Location: Point Nepean Road, Rye, Victoria 3941
MELWAY Ref: Page 168 F4
Safety: The Eivion lies in a high traffic boating area. For your own safety, you must use a surface dive float with a dive flag.
Entry/Exit: Entry can either be from the lower landing near the end of Rye Pier, or straight off the beach. Straight off the beach means crossing a large sandbank.
Ideal Conditions: Offshore southerly winds and high tide. Not diveable in strong northerly winds. Though high tide is ideal to get more depth, you are able to dive this site on any tide. See WillyWeather (Rye Pier) as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.
Coming down Port Phillip, the Eivion encountered strong south-easterly weather and sheltered in Swan Bay, Queenscliff. After a week of wild weather from the north, the Eivion slipped her moorings and was towed out by Cicada/Gertrude, hoisted sail, and arrived Rye about 10 am with the weather worsening.
Upon arrival she was to be loaded with 70 tons of tea tree wood, primarily used for firewood, fuelling the bakeries of settlements surrounding Port Phillip. The wind was blowing hard from the west whereby Vic Kallie, the Eivion's skipper, became concerned about being caught on a weather shore. He knew that under the circumstances loading in such weather put the crew and the vessel at high risk, but the economics of securing the cargo was of utmost importance. (Hollinshed, 1962)
As foam began to be whipped from the caps of the waves, the clunk of ships timbers against the pier soon resounded over the Rye foreshore, as the Eivion began to ride the incoming swell against the pier. Working at a frantic pace the Eivion's crew had loaded all but two trolleys full of wood. The breaking seas swelled, then rose, tapering into giant hills, leaving the Eivion at the mercy of the gale. For hours the crew endeavoured to let go the anchor, but the conditions would not allow the winch to be operated.
Without warning on 4–5 December 1921, the Eivion was buffeted against Rye Pier, spilling its cargo, eventually resting in a dilapidated condition close to shore. When the storm abated the next morning the Eivion was awash, rigging in a tangle. The vessel was abandoned and eventually blown up by the authorities, using gelignite.
The Eivion is of historical significance as she is an Australian built Port Phillip lime and timber trader.
Eivion: The wreck of the Eivion lies to the east of Rye Pier, in about 2 metres of water. It can be spotted from up on the pier (about halfway) as a dark patch. It is often home to many nudibranchs and rays. You can find shrimp and a variety of small fish. Something nice to change things up or to head to on a second dive.
There are also two dark patches on the eastern side of Rye Pier clearly visible on Google Earth. Both sites lie on a clear sandy seabed with a maximum depth of 3 metres. Both sites are accessible via the shore or the pier as well as by boat. Both sites are heavily overgrown with weed, making it difficult to distinguish features.
The patch closest to the west side of Rye Pier is at
Latitude: 38° 22.010′ S (38.3668332° S / 38° 22′ 0.6″ S)
Longitude: 144° 49.293′ E (144.82155° E / 144° 49′ 17.58″ E) .
146 m, bearing 237°, WSW
This appears to be a mound of basalt rocks (not dressed) and is typical of a ballast mound from a ship.
Barbara: The second patch, further to the west, is the shipwreck remains of the wooden schooner Barbara. The remains consist of some frames and planking and a small pile of green rounded ballast stones. From the size and shape of the frames.
Caution: Care needs to be taken if you plan to visit the sites of these shipwrecks, especially those west of Rye Pier, offshore from the Rye Boat Ramp. These are high traffic boating areas. For your own safety, you must use a surface dive float and dive flag.
The sand in this part of Port Phillip is highly mobile and there may be more of the wreck underneath the seabed.
Historical accounts of shipwrecks at Rye inform us that four wrecks have occurred in the vicinity of Rye Pier.
Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes parts of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula, French Island and Phillip Island, plus Western Port. We wish to acknowledge the Boon Wurrung as Traditional Owners. We pay respect to their Ancestors and their Elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge Bunjil the Creator Spirit of this beautiful land, who travels as an eagle, and Waarn, who protects the waterways and travels as a crow, and thank them for continuing to watch over this Country today and beyond.
Eivion Location Map
Latitude: 38° 22.023′ S (38.36705° S / 38° 22′ 1.38″ S)
Longitude: 144° 49.412′ E (144.823533° E / 144° 49′ 24.72″ E)
Datum: WGS84 | Google Map | Get directions
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2022-04-27 09:54:18 GMT
Source: Heritage Victoria
Nearest Neighbour: Rye Pier, 114 m, bearing 334°, NNW
Built: Williamstown, 1888.
Sunk: 4-5 December 1921.
Rye, Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip.
Depth: 2 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.