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George Roper

Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Shore access

Marine Park - No Fishing Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

Four Masted Iron Barque | Max Depth: 6 metres (20 feet)

George Roper
George Roper
© Unknown

The George Roper was a four master iron sailing barque built to carry cargo. It is archaeologically and historically significant as an example of a large, fast, international trader built especially for the Australian run. The wreck lies in 4 to 6 metres of water, and is accessible to recreational divers.

Diving the George Roper

The George Roper lies in shallow water, 4 metres (13 feet) to 6 metres (20 feet), with its bow facing into Point Lonsdale Reef. The 66 ton steamer Blackboy, used in the salvage of the vessel, lies nearby.

The wreck of the George Roper extends for over 83 metres (272 feet) from the large anchor winch at the bow, to the rudder which lies seaward of the Lonsdale Reef.

The lower portion of the hull, beloe the bilge line, lies semi-intact with the ship's keelson, side keelsons and bilge keelsons clearly visible for most of the the wreck's length. At the bow, one of the ship's large winches is offset to the portside of the wreck. A hawse hole can be seen among the hull plating on the starboard side of the vessel.

Parts of the rigging such as masts, yards, backstays and deadeyes lie among the hull remains. A lifting davit lies at the stern with a bollard and bit nearby. Divers should also be able to see the rudder standing upright towards the port side of the wreck.

Fragments of cargo including slate, ceramic pieces and clay pipes are strewn about the wreck.

The remnants of iron and other debris around the wreck have become home to many different species of reef fish. The wreck has also been colonised by masses of kelp and other seaweed, making this a very colourful wreck dive.

This is a tidal site and best dived at slack water at the end of the ebb tide.

See WillyWeather as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.

George Roper Dive Site Map
George Roper Dive Site Map | © Victorian Archaeological Survey

George Roper History

On its maiden voyage from Liverpool, the four masted barque George Roper was met by headwinds at Bass Strait, about 8 miles off Port Phillip Heads, and was taken under tow by the steam tug Williams with Pilot Gifford in charge on 4 July 1883. Conditions suddenly worsened, and the Williams had veered too far west in heavy fog. Both the Williams and the George Roper struck Lonsdale Reef, with the tug making water so fast that it had to go up the Bay at once for repairs.

As the fog lifted, it was discovered that George Roper was stranded in one of the most dangerous and inaccessible parts of the reef, immediately opposite the green light at Point Lonsdale. Attempts to float George Roper off the reef failed. The barque's Captain and crew were transferred to Albatross and taken to Queenscliff. After 2 days the underwriters sold the wreck at auction to a Melbourne syndicate. After recovering considerable cargo, the syndicate sold the wreck to a Geelong syndicate which continued to recover cargo for some months. On 26 August, the George Roper finally broke up and sunk.

The tug Black Boy, one of the vessels commissioned to salvage George Roper, also hit the reef after its trailing cable became entangled in its propeller. The crew of the Blackboy was saved, but the tug sunk.

The George Roper was built in 1882 for W.T. Dickson and Son in the W.H. Potter and Son shipyard in Liverpool. George Roper was specifically designed for fast sailing and bringing large consignments of cargo to Australia. It was launched on 10 February 1883, and almost immediately was struck by the steamer Bentinc. The damage to the George Roper was a 17 foot gap from the taffrail to near the waterline, and repairs had to be made before its voyage to Melbourne. It was carrying soft goods, draperies, household items, spirits, dynamite, and 1,400 tons of steel rails for the Victorian Government when it was towed into the reef. The Captain was John Ward, supported by 31 crew.

See also, Australian National Shipwreck Database: George Roper,
Heritage Council Victoria: George Roper, and
Dive Information Sheet: George Roper (1882-1883) (Adobe PDF | 624.31 KB).

This site lies in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. The park is made up of six separate marine areas around the southern end of Port Phillip: Swan Bay, Mud Islands, Point Lonsdale, Point Nepean, Popes Eye, and Portsea Hole.

See also, Parks Victoria: Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park,
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park - Map (PDF 1.4 MB),
Divers Guide - Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park (Adobe PDF | 6.54 MB), and
Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park Identification Booklet (Adobe PDF | 5.64 MB).

Latitude: 38° 17.700′ S   (38.295° S / 38° 17′ 42″ S)
Longitude: 144° 36.901′ E   (144.615017° E / 144° 36′ 54.06″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-06-01 02:29:13 GMT
Source: Book - Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Holyhead, 31 m, bearing 152°, SSE
Four masted iron barque, 2033 ton.
Built: Liverpool, England, 1882.
Dive only on: SWE, Ebb.
Sunk: 4 July 1883.
Depth: 4 to 6 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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