Wreck Dive | Boat access
Historic shipwreck protected zone. Permit Required.
For more details please see vic-shipwreck-protection-zones.
Do not dive near the Glenelg without a permit. The shipwreck lies in a 500 metre radius protection zone. If you enter this zone severe penalties apply. Stay clear!
The Glenelg (aka SS Glenelg) sank in a strong gale on 25 March 1900, off Ninety Mile Beach, East Gippsland, Victoria. With the deaths of at least 38 people and only three survivors, the sinking of the Glenelg is historically significant as one of the worst maritime disasters in Victorian history,
The shipwreck has the potential for archaeological significance with some of the hull preserved under the sand. These remains may provide unknown technical detail of iron shipbuilding, details of the refit the vessel underwent in 1898 and information pertaining to life on board a typical cargo/passenger vessel at the turn of the century. SS Glenelg is representative of the fleet of small iron steamers on the small country trading routes around Australia.
The Glenelg lay hidden beneath the waters off Ninety Mile Beach, East Gippsland, Victoria for 109 years. The shipwreck of the SS Glenelg was eventually discovered by Southern Ocean Exploration (SOE) divers on 28 June 2009.
The Story of the SS Glenelg | © Terry Cantwell
The Glenelg shipwreck lies in an east-direction with the bow pointing east. The hull has largely collapsed to less than a metre above the waterline. The forward section of bow is separated from the main site and lies on its port side. A heavily encrusted anchor and the anchor winch are visible.
The main features of the wreck site are the boiler, engines, steam-powered winches and bridge. There are many bottles, plates, cutlery, basins, portholes and other artifacts on the site. Off the port side, there is a debris field which may have been disturbed by fishing activities.
Unfortunately, in February 2011, Southern Ocean Exploration reported more than 150 items, including cutlery, crockery and glass bottles had been illegally removed from the Glenelg wreck site.
The diving conditions in Bass Strait are difficult, with exposed seas, poor visibility and strong currents. Calm conditions are required to dive the Glenelg.
Bass Strait Warning: Always keep an eye on sea conditions throughout any shore or boat dive in Bass Strait on Victoria's coastline. Please read the warnings on the web page diving-in-bass-strait before diving or snorkelling this site.
The site of the Glenelg is a historic shipwreck protected zone declared under the Australian Government's Underwater Cultural heritage Act 2018 on 24 February 2011, with a 500 metre radius from:
Latitude: 38° 33.144′ S (38.5524° S / 38° 33′ 8.64″ S)
Longitude: 147° 12.444′ E (147.2074° E / 147° 12′ 26.64″ E) .
A permit from Heritage Victoria is required to dive the Glenelg. Anchoring is prohibited.
The SS Glenelg was an iron twin-screw steamer of 210 gross tons (64 net tons), built in 1875, by Aitken & Mansel of Glasgow, Scotland, and launched on Friday, 22 January 1875. She was built with the dimensions of 135 ft (41 m) long, a breadth of 21 ft (6.4 m) and a depth of 11.3 ft (3.44 m). The Glenelg was driven by two compound steam engines totalling 85 hp from a single coal-fired boiler; the engines were built in Glasgow by Rait & Lindsay. She was clincher built with a round stern and she was rigged as a fore-aft schooner. The vessel carried two large lifeboats and had two holds with steam winches. The vessel carried two large lifeboats and had two holds with steam winches.
On 24 May 1875 the Glenelg held the distinction of being the first southbound ship to pass through the new Suez Canal. Designed to operate as a tug/passenger/tender vessel, she also had the capacity to ship cargo. The Glenelg at first traded under the British flag, and entered service in 1880 on the Australian coastal run between Adelaide, Hobart in Sydney. She worked out of Port Adelaide and later worked in the St Vincent's Gulf trade. She made several voyages under the command of Captain S. Nicholson until she was replaced by the SS Macedon.
Glenelg had a variety of owners over the next 20 years, spending most of that time around the southeast coast of Australia.
In July 1881 the Glenelg was sold to William Wells a,nd in April 1882 sold to Thomas Hesselton of Sydney, under whom she made a run to New Zealand for a cargo of salvaged railway equipment.
The Glenelg was sold again in July 1882 to the Port Jackson Steamship Co. Ltd. of Sydney, and employed as a Manly ferry. From January 1883 until end of March 1883 she was chartered to W. Collins of Brisbane and placed upon the Brisbane to Bundaberg run.
In November 1891 she was purchased by E T Miles & Partners of Hobart and placed upon the Hobart to Strahan run, at times extending from Strahan to Melbourne.
In 1892, under new owners, the Glenelg was placed on the Hobart to Strahan to Melbourne run. In 1893, the ship was put on the Victorian coastal run.
In 1896, the Glenelg encountered a heavy gale on a trip between Melbourne and Strahan. Being a flush-decked ship, the big seas tumbled over her low bow, rushing aft and eventually breaking over the engine room grating and the water finding its way below and choking the pumps with coal. All hands bailed with buckets, while her Master, Captain Lloyd headed for Circular Head on Tasmania's north-west coast where he beached her. It was found that packing had worked out of a tail-shaft gland. After repairs the ship was refloated, and continued to Strahan. The ship was then sold to the Union Steamship Company and continued to serve the west coast of Tasmania for a further two years.
The Glenelg was purchased in 1898 from the Union Steamship Company, by George Alfred Carpenter of Lakes Entrance, Charles Henry Jackson of Bruthen and Alfred John Ellerker, shipping agent of Melbourne. The Glenelg was put on the Melbourne to Gippsland Lakes run for the next two years.
On its final voyage, the Glenelg was returning to Melbourne with 30 tons of general cargo from Bairnsdale, 8 tons of general cargo from Metung, and five tons of electric light poles from Lakes Entrance. In addition to this cargo, it had on board 15 passengers and a crew of 16 under the command of Captain English.
After departing Lakes Entrance for Melbourne the previous night, the small coastal steamer encountered a ferocious storm and was blown off course. Several iron plates in the hull cracked and the Glenelg began taking water. Despite valiant attempts by the crew, the vessel started to sink and Captain English had no option but to order "abandon ship".
A lifeboat was launched on the seaward side with three crew members aboard, Alexander Lamb, Bundy and Thorn. It was tossed about in the seas a great deal and passengers were reluctant to get in. Meanwhile, about 20 passengers boarded a second lifeboat on the leeward side. The Captain, remaining crew and passengers went down with the ship at 4.30 a.m. on 25 March 1900.
The three crew members in the first lifeboat attempted to get to the second boat to help with the overcrowding. They were unsuccessful and eventually lost sight of the larger boat, which was never seen again. At daylight, the three in the first lifeboat found themselves in an empty sea — the ship and second lifeboat had disappeared without a trace. The three crew members were at sea for a further two days before being coming ashore at Marlo and were brought back to Lakes Entrance.
Over the following weeks, bodies of some of the victims were washed up along the Ninety Mile Beach and many others were never recovered.
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 email@example.com.
Traditional Owners — This dive site does not lie in the acknowledged traditional Country of any first peoples of Australia.
Glenelg Location Map
Latitude: 38° 33.144′ S (38.5524° S / 38° 33′ 8.64″ S)
Longitude: 147° 12.444′ E (147.2074° E / 147° 12′ 26.64″ E)
Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2022-05-10 02:36:11 GMT
Source: Victorian Government GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Unknown 001, 36,988 m, bearing 217°, SW
Historic shipwreck protected zone.
Iron Twin Screw Steamer.
Sunk: 25 March 1900.
Ninety Mile Beach, East Gippsland.
Depth: 32 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.