Eliza Ramsden

Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Inside Port Phillip Open Water Rated Slack Water Subject to Shipping Wreck Dive Site

Three Masted Iron Barque | Max Depth: 22 metres (72 feet)

Eliza Ramsden
Eliza Ramsden
© Unknown

The Eliza Ramsden, a three masted iron sailing barque with a clipper bow, is one of Victoria's most spectacular shipwreck sites, and thus has both recreational and educational significance. It is archaeologically significant as relics of cultural significance, including a small ship's bell, have been found on the site.

Diving the Eliza Ramsden

The Eliza Ramsden shipwreck lies upright and quite badly broken up, quite close to the South Channel in Port Phillip. She sits on the seabed facing east west with her bow to the west. The donkey boiler is still visible. The clipper bow collapsed in the 2010s but the hull plating and some of the decking along the starboard side of the vessel is still in place. Much of the port side decking has collapsed, probably as a result of the explosives used to clear the site in the early 1960s.

Eliza Ramsden Bathymetry
Eliza Ramsden Bathymetry
© Port of Melbourne

The Eliza Ramsden is a great dive for Open Water divers, and also gives photographers ample time to capture that special wreck diving shot. The Eliza Ramsden has a great deal of marine life, including soft corals and bright yellow zooanthids. Common reef fish found around the wreck include blue devils, old wives, boar fish, wrasse and cuttlefish.

Deck supports, called stanchions, There are still some small artefacts in the bow of the ship, however they are covered over by gravel, shells and sand. There is a concrete plinth displaying a plaque with the details of the wreck on it.

Eliza Ramsden Dive Site Map
Eliza Ramsden Dive Site Map
© Victoria Archaeological Survey

This Eliza Ramsden site should be dived only at slack water and a shipping check with the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse must be conducted first. Because the wreck is so close to the shipping channels, charter boats often schedule dives on the Eliza Ramsden, but often have to mode to different dive location due to shipping. Consider yourself very lucky if you actually get to dive on this shipwreck.

Diving the Eliza Ramsden Shipwreck in Port Phillip | © MDTV3

Ramsden Reef can be found nearby. It extends North East from the stern for about 75 metres. On the reef can be found Large Leatherjackets, Sweep, Trumpeter, Trevally and Blue Devil fish. Gorgonian corals and crayfish can also be found under the ledges. Ramsden Reef slopes at about a 60 degree angle down to a sandy bottom and undercut caves are present in parts.

Eliza Ramsden History

The Eliza Ramsden was regarded as the finest vessel of the Port of Melbourne in 1875, built for Melbourne businessman Samuel Ramsden and named after his wife.

Built by Barclay Currie & Co in Whiteinch, Glasgow, Scottland in 1874 The overall length of the vessel was approximately 46.21 metres (152 feet) and beam 8.23 metres (27 feet) giving a displacement weight of 415 tonne (457 short tons).

The Eliza Ramsden was of a similar construction to the James Craig that was built during the same period. The James Craig has been restored, and is operational as a tourist attraction in Sydney. She is one of only four operational Barques from the 19th Century still capable of sailing.

Eliza Ramsden Sinking

The Eliza Ramsden was only one year old when at the start of a voyage from Melbourne to Newcastle it ran aground and was trapped on Corsair Rock and badly damaged. The owner's son was the only passenger aboard with the 13 crew. The ship was evacuated by a lifeboat sent by the steam tug Warhawk when it was assessed that it would go down once the tide rose. Most personal effects were left on board. When the tide rose, the vessel floated off Corsair Rock, drifted back into Port Phillip and eventually sunk near the South Channel on 24 July 1875.

For many years the mast of the Eliza Ramsden shipwreck remained above sea level and so she wasn't a real danger until her masts finally collapsed in the 1960's. She was then deemed to pose a danger to vessels using the channel, and her masts were demolished with explosives to ensure that shipping traffic was not impeded.

See also, Australian National Shipwreck Database: Eliza Ramsden,
Heritage Council Victoria: Eliza Ramsden, and
Dive Information Sheet: Eliza Ramsden (1874-1875) (Adobe PDF | 336.81 KB).

Latitude: 38° 17.630′ S   (38.293833° S / 38° 17′ 37.8″ S)
Longitude: 144° 40.435′ E   (144.673917° E / 144° 40′ 26.1″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-05-10 00:02:53 GMT
Source: Book - Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Ramsden Reef, 75 m, bearing 48°, NE
Three masted iron barque, 46m, 515 ton.
Built: Glasgow, Scotland, 1874.
Sunk: 24 July 1875.
Depth: 14 to 22 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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