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Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

Three Masted Iron Barque | Max Depth: 7 metres (23 feet)

The Fiji is a three masted iron barque built in Belfast, Ireland for a Liverpool, England based shipping company. This shipwreck is archaeologically significant as the wreck of a typical 19th century international sailing ship with cargo. It is educationally and recreationally significant as one of Victoria's most spectacular historic shipwreck dive sites with structural features and remains of the cargo evident.

Diving the Fiji

The wreck of the Fiji is some 50 metres (164 feet) to 70 metres (230 feet) from Wreck Beach and Moonlight Head. It lies in six to seven metres of water in a sandy gully of sandstone boulders. The wreckage extends for a distance of 71 metres (233 feet). The bow is orientated towards the shore and is flanked on one side by a large boulder which is visible from the surface. Waves often break over the boulder.

The wreck has been broken up over the years but there is still a large amount of wreckage which can be seen by divers visiting the site. Remains of the hull include the ship's bow, flooring, bilge frames, hull plating and rudder plating.

At the bow, a large mound of chains is clearly visible along with two anchors, two winches, hawsepipes and rigging.

Divers can see remnants of the ship's cargo in two main mounds. One mound near midships comprises pig iron and wire coil. The other mound in the bow includes bricks and wire coils. Broken gin bottles, ceramic toys and porcelain doll parts have been found of the wreck site over the years.

The site is in a very dangerous and exposed position. It's subject to heavty swells and surge conditions and is best visited by divers during moderate notherlies when the swell is minimal.

Fiji Dive Site Map
Fiji Dive Site Map | © Victorian Archaeological Survey

Fiji History

The barque Fiji left Hamburg on 22nd of May 1891. The vessel went ashore at 3 am on the morning of the disaster in squally and boisterous weather soon after sighting Cape Otway.

The wind had suddenly veered, and the vessel missed stays after attempting to wear ship and was driven onto the rocks. Attempts were made to launch the boats but they were swamped and dashed to pieces. Delays in getting the lifeboat and rocket apparatus to the scene resulted in 12 of the 25 crew drowning after 10 hours trapped on board.

A local resident, Arthur Wilkinson, lost his life trying to save one of the crew who was struggling in the surf. Coffins were made out of the wreck timbers and the men buried on the cliff top above the wreck. The deaths precipitated critical comment in the press over the lack of prompt action. Other news items appeared claiming drunk and disorderly behaviour by plunderers amongst the corpses and wreckage on the beach. The controversy reached parliament.

See also, Australian National Shipwreck Database: Fiji,
Heritage Council Victoria: Fiji,
Heritage Victoria slide collection on flickr: Fiji, and
Dive Information Sheet: Fiji (1875-1891) (Adobe PDF | 667.25 KB).

Latitude: 38° 45.750′ S   (38.7625° S / 38° 45′ 45″ S)
Longitude: 143° 13.500′ E   (143.225° E / 143° 13′ 30″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-03-20 06:15:24 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Loch Ard, 18,186 m, bearing 312°, NW
Three masted iron barque.
Built: Belfast, Ireland, 1875.
Sunk: 6 September 1891.
Depth: 7 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.

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