Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

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

Steam Driven Minesweeper | Max Depth: 15 metres (49 feet)

© Unknown

The HMAS Goorangai (aka Goorangai, MV Goorangai) is historically significant as the first Royal Australian Navy surface vessel lost with all hands, Australia's first naval loss of World War II, and the first Royal Australian Navy surface vessel lost in a war. The entire ship's complement consisting of three officers and twenty one sailors (twenty four in total) were killed in the tragedy, with only six bodies recovered, of which five were identified.

Diving The Goorangai

Blasting operations in January 1941 reduced the remains of the Goorangai to large and small sections of steel plating which protrude from the sandy seabed. A small cylindrical boiler (2 m x 3 m) is lying on the northern end of the site. Broken machinery and boiler sections are scattered around the site, and occasionally wartime relics can be seen.

What little remains is of little interest to wreck divers, with heavily overgrown wreckage, however the fish life is generally prolific. The remains cover approximately 200 square metres of the seabed, and a considerable length of hull plating stands proud of the sand to a height of about two metres. The remains of the hull have been colonised by a diverse assemblage of colourful encrusting organisms, such as bryozoans, sponges and soft corals. This in turn provides an ideal habitat for both free swimming and sedentary fauna, including many fish species, cuttlefish, sea horses, nudibranches and starfish. The abundance and variety of marine life, in association with the shipwreck, makes the HMAS Goorangai a popular destination for sport divers.

The Goorangai lies in the South Channel and is subject to shipping, which also means anchoring is prohibited. Diving on slack water is a must.

Goorangi History

MV Goorangai
MV Goorangai prior to
commissioning into the RAN
© Unknown

The Goorangai was built for the NSW Government at the State Dockyard, Newcastle in 1919. It was sold to Cam and Sons in 1926 and refitted as a fishing trawler.

The Goorangi was one of thirty five privately owned vessels requisitioned by the RAN as auxiliary minesweepers. She was commissioned as the HMAS Goorangai for service as an auxiliary minesweeper.

HMAS Goorangai in Port Phillip
HMAS Goorangai in Port Phillip
© Royal Australian Navy

Following the sinking of the SS Cambridge and MV City of Rayville in Bass Strait by German mines on 7 and 8 November 1940 respectively, three minesweepers including the HMAS Goorangai were ordered to the sweep the shipping lanes and approaches to Port Phillip, and within a fortnight were able to locate and destroy forty mines.

While crossing from Queenscliff to Portsea without lights, the HMAS Gorrangai was struck forward of the funnel by the outward bound troopship MV Duntroon which was leaving for Sydney loaded with troops. The Goorangai was cut in two and sank in less than a minute in the approaches to the South Channel.

MV Duntroon
MV Duntroon
© Royal Australian Navy

Wartime security prevented the Duntroon from heaving to or switching on searchlights to look for survivors. However, the Duntroon did lower lifeboats, fire rockets, and sound three blasts on the whistle to alert the residents of Queenscliff. When the lifeboat Queenscliffe reached the scene of the disaster the crew found the minesweeper sunk in about 15 metres of water with only the tops of the masts visible. Despite an extensive search for the HMAS Goorangai crew of 24, only six bodies were recovered.

The minesweeper HMAS Goorangai has the tragic distinction of being all at once Australia's first naval loss of World War II, the first Royal Australian Navy surface vessel lost in a war, and the first Royal Australian Navy surface vessel lost with all hands. The Goorangai is a designated war grave and should be treated with respect.

Built as a 'Castle' type steam trawler based on a North Sea design in Newcastle, NSW, sunk on 20 November 1940, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 35.66 metres (117 feet), beam 6.74 metres (22 feet) and draught 4.17 metres (14 feet) giving a displacement weight of 223 tonne (246 short tons).

Because the HMAS Goorangai wreck lies in the main shipping channel and was considered a hazard to navigation, she was demolished with explosives in January 1941. The remains of the wreck are very scattered.

On 16 November 1995, the wreck of Goorangai was declared a historic shipwreck as specified in the Historic Shipwrecks Act (1981).

See also Wikipedia: HMAS Goorangai,
Australian National Shipwreck Database: HMAS Goorangai,
Royal Australian Navy: HMAS Goorangai,
MAAV: H.M.A.S. Goorangai 1919-1940, and
Heritage Council Victoria: HMAS Goorangai.

Latitude: 38° 17.404′ S   (38.290067° S / 38° 17′ 24.24″ S)
Longitude: 144° 40.992′ E   (144.6832° E / 144° 40′ 59.52″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-04-27 05:03:36 GMT
Source: Book - Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Formosa, 457 m, bearing 197°, SSW
ex HMAS Goorangai, Steam driven minesweeper.
Built: Newcastle, NSW, 1919.
Sunk: 20 November 1940.
Depth: 13 to 15 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.

Suunto EON Core at The Scuba Doctor Dive Shop

Thank you for allowing us to sell you dive gear.
— The Scuba Doctor