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Why You Need a Dry Suit Certification to Dive Dry.

Before you became a certified diver, you may have wondered, “why do you need a license to go scuba diving?” At some point during your Open Water Diver course®, you likely saw the value of learning how to prevent and manage problems and the benefits of practicing basic skills in a pool. It’s the same for dry suit diving – but the course is considerably shorter, just one or two days.

A dry suit keeps you warm by keeping you dry (water conducts heat away from the body 20- 27 times faster than air). What most divers don’t consider is how the bubble of air keeping you warm behaves during the dive. For example, if you tip forward to look at something, the air will move to your feet, which can lead to a rapid feet-first ascent. The PADI® Dry Suit Diver Specialty course teaches you essential dry suit safety skills.


Wreck Dive Wreck Dive | Boat access Boat access

Inside Port Phillip Open Water Rated Slack Water Wreck Dive Site

Iron Passenger Steamship | Max Depth: 14 m (46 ft)

© State Library Victoria

Level: Open Water and beyond.

The Gambier shipwreck lies in Port Phillip, between Queenscliff and Popes Eye Shoal.

Because of the shifting sands and tides, the Gambier is a rather hit and miss dive. It's made even more marginal because of its proximity to the path of the car ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff.

Diving the Gambier Shipwreck

Packo describes a dive at what we believe to be this site...

Vis was good over this sandy area and after 5 minutes we hit a low profile reef with a nice fish population. At the southern edge, we encountered a long E-W cable about 1.5 inches thick which I initially took to be the undersea telephone cable running in this area.

Then it slowly dawned on me that the reef was the wreck site with all projections being pieces of iron sticking up through a heavy layer of sand. Coal chunks, copper pipe and decayed wood were ample evidence that we were on or near the spot. It's a nice pleasant dive site although I think the wreck is too wrecked to provide much interest.

Gambier Shipwreck History — Built in 1874

The Ocean was an iron screw steamer of 1,577 tons, built in 1874, by J & R Swan, in Dunbarton, Scotland. The dimensions of the vessel were 280 ft (85 m) in length, with a beam of 31.9 ft (9.72 m) and a draught of 23.9 ft (7.28 m).

The steamer was driven by a two cylinder compound engine of 155 nominal horsepower. The vessel was registered in Greenock, to owners J & R Brown of Newcastle, United Kingdom.

Originally the Ocean, the vessel had an expensive re-fit in 1885 for work as a passenger ship.

The vessel was purchased in 1888 by Howard Smith and Sons Ltd, renamed Gambier and registered in Melbourne. The Gambier mainly plied between Newcastle and Melbourne with passengers and coal, with occasional voyages to other ports on the Australian coast.

Gambier Sinking — Collision 28 August 1891

Gambier Collision With Easby
Gambier Collision With Easby
© State Library Victoria

On its final voyage, the Gambier left Sydney on 25 August 1891, bound for Melbourne with a cargo of fruit and general merchandise. She had 65 passengers, and a crew of 37, under the command of Captain Frank Bell.

On Friday 28 August 1891 the Gambier had entered through the Port Phillip Heads and was in the West Channel. When signals were misunderstood, the Gambier was run down by the Easby. Up to 21 lives were lost, particularly as one lifeboat capsised during launch.

Explosives were later used to flatten the wreck and the site is frequently covered in sand.

See also, Trove 5-Sep-1891: Wreck of the Gambier,
Heritage Council Victoria: Gambier, and
Australian National Shipwreck Database: Gambier.

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

Finding the Gambier Shipwreck

Over the years we've been provided with many GPS marks for the Gambier. The GPS marks we know of in circulation for the Gambier are:

  • Dive Victoria:
    Latitude: 38° 16.384′ S   (38.27306667° S / 38° 16′ 23.04″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 41.357′ E   (144.6892833° E / 144° 41′ 21.42″ E)
  • Book - Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads 1995:
    Latitude: 38° 16.390′ S   (38.27316667° S / 38° 16′ 23.4″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 41.390′ E   (144.68983333° E / 144° 41′ 23.4″ E)

    49 m, bearing 102°, ESE
  • Getunder 2005:
    Latitude: 38° 16.386′ S   (38.2731° S / 38° 16′ 23.16″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 41.316′ E   (144.6886° E / 144° 41′ 18.96″ E)

    60 m, bearing 266°, W
  • eChart #1:
    Latitude: 38° 16.387′ S   (38.273121° S / 38° 16′ 23.24″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 41.393′ E   (144.689882° E / 144° 41′ 23.58″ E)

    53 m, bearing 96°, E
  • eChart #2:
    Latitude: 38° 16.385′ S   (38.27308333° S / 38° 16′ 23.1″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 41.387′ E   (144.68978333° E / 144° 41′ 23.22″ E)

    44 m, bearing 92°, E
  • POMC document:
    Latitude: 38° 16.356′ S   (38.2726° S / 38° 16′ 21.36″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 41.352′ E   (144.6892° E / 144° 41′ 21.12″ E)

    52 m, bearing 352°, N

Until April 2021, we were using the following mark for the Gambier.
Book - Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads GPS (verified):
Latitude: 38° 16.450′ S   (38.274167° S / 38° 16′ 27″ S)
Longitude: 144° 40.500′ E   (144.675° E / 144° 40′ 30″ E)

1,253 m, bearing 264°, W

We're now struggling to understand where that mark came from. The current edition of the book doesn't have a GPS mark for the Gambier. The first edition has the GPS mark in the list above.

Wathaurong (Wadda-Warrung) country
Wathaurong (Wadda-Warrung) country

Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Wathaurong (Wadda-Warrung) people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes the coastline of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-east, the Bellarine Peninsula, and down to Cape Otway in the south-west. We wish to acknowledge the Wathaurong 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.


Gambier Location Map

Latitude: 38° 16.384′ S   (38.273067° S / 38° 16′ 23.04″ S)
Longitude: 144° 41.357′ E   (144.689283° E / 144° 41′ 21.42″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2022-05-13 22:10:35 GMT
Source: Dive Victoria
Nearest Neighbour: Popes Eye Anchor Farm, 866 m, bearing 110°, ESE
Iron Passenger Steamship.
Built: Dumbarton, Scotland, 1874.
Sunk: 28 August 1891.
Port Phillip.
Depth: 14 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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