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Inside Port Phillip Open Water Rated Scallops Dive Site Slack Water Wreck Dive Site

Three Masted Iron Clipper | Max Depth: 12 metres (39 feet)

© Unknown

The Hurricane was a three-masted, iron, clipper sailing ship with raised decks built in Scottland. She was one of the very first iron clippers to be built and also reported to be one of the fastest ships on the Australian run — completing the journey from England in around 80 to 90 days. She was designed to carry both passengers and cargo. She sank off Arthur's Seat in Capel Sound on 22 April 1869.

It's best to dive the Hurricane shipwreck at slack water — see Diving in Melbourne Currents. Make sure you bring your catch bag — the Hurricane lies within one of the largest scallops areas in Port Phillip.

Diving The Hurricane

Hurricane Wreck Dive
Hurricane Wreck Dive
© Ian Scholey

The remains of the Hurricane shipwreck lie in 9 metres (30 feet) to 12 metres (39 feet) of water offshore from Rosebud, in Capel Sound, Port Phillip. The shipwreck lies on a seabed of sand, silt and shells with its bow to the North on an axis of around 338 degrees True (NNW). When using a GPS unit and sounder to locate the shipwreck, it's best to approach from the East or West.

The Hurricane shipwreck was relatively intact until the late 1960s when Ports and Harbours engineers considered it to be a navigational hazard and blasted it. The wreckage is spread over a large area, with the most prominent feature now the stern, which rises about 3 metres (9.84 feet) out of the sand.

Hurricane Wreck and Rosebud Reef from Allie Beckhurst.

Hurricane Site Map
Hurricane Site Map | © Victoria Archaeological Survey

The Hurricane shipwreck site is covered with steel plates, girders, and wooden beams. A small section of the stern stands off the seabed and is the most intact part of the ship. Near the bow, a large capstan is visible, amidst a complicated mass of twisted metal. An observant diver will notice star pickets protruding from the bottom. These were placed by the Victorian Archaeological Survey when it mapped the site. A concrete cairn outlining the history of the Hurricane has been placed near the stern.

As with most shipwreck sites, the Hurricane forms an artificial reef, which is now home to many different species of fish including Dusky Morwong, Banded Morwong, Magpie Perch, Horseshoe Leatherjacket, Zebrafish, Senator Wrasse, Southern Maori Wrasse, Sixspine Leatherjacket, Longfin Pike (aka Yellowfin Pike), Snapper, Yellowtail Scad, Scalyfin, Bluespotted Goatfish, as well as other forms of marine life. This makes for an enjoyable dive and the keen diver can usually find a good number of Scallops close to the wreck.

As this wreck is popular with fishermen during the snapper fishing season, it is important to be alert for boats and fishing lines. Despite being several kilometres from The Heads, the Hurricane is only dived at slack water. The Hurricane is a declared Historic Shipwreck and so the removal of any materials is strictly prohibited.

Diving the Historic Shipwreck, Hurricane - Port Phillip | Heritage Victoria

Dive charter boats sometimes schedule dives on the Hurricane, heading out from Portsea and Queenscliff. Private dive boats usually launch at the Rye Boat Ramp or the Queenscliff Boat Ramp.

Hurricane Dive Information Sheet

A Dive Information Sheet for the Hurricane was created by Heritage Victoria in 1992 as a part of the Victorian Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail kit.
See Dive Information Sheet: Hurricane (1853-1869) (Adobe PDF | 538.67 KB).

As Packo reports, "While still helpful to modern-day wreck explorers, the 40+ year old Dive Information Sheets do suffer from errors due to old technology, and the lack of updates over that time. In the case of the Hurrican wreck information sheet, the corrections and updates are:"

  • "The given latitude and longitude values have errors in the seconds and are not useable. They are not WGS84 datum."
  • "The third visual transit is not useable as the top section of South Channel Pile was moved several miles away to the Rye Channel in 1982. The remaining base section was removed around 2017."
  • "The orientation of North in the original dive site sketch was not shown correctly causing some confusion. See corrected orientation (North up) on the rotated image above."
  • "The original concrete marker plinth near the port stern quarter was dragged by a scallop dredger. It was pulled right across the wreck to the starboard side. It was also damaged."
  • "A replacement plinth was later installed just off the starboard bow. Both plinths are located in the sand about 4 metres outside the wreckage."
    • Hurricane History

      The Hurricane was built in 1853 as a three-masted iron clipper ship on the River Clyde, Kelvinhaugh, Scotland by Alexander Stephen and Sons Ltd in Front Yard 3, and, was launched on the 26th April 1853. The overall length of the Hurricane was approximately 215 feet (66 metres) and beam 31 feet (9.45 metres) giving a displacement weight of 1,108 tonne (1,221 short tons).

      The Hurricane was built for the Australian run until lost. On its first return voyage, it carried gold exports from Melbourne to London.

      Sinking of the Hurricane

      The Wreck of the Hurricane
      The Wreck of the Hurricane
      Source: State Library Victoria

      The Hurricane sank off Arthur's Seat in Capel Sound on Thursday 22 April 1869. On its final voyage, the Hurricane left Liverpool, under the command of Captain Johnston, on 12 January 1869, with 27 crew, 19 passengers, and 2,000 tons of general cargo. The Hurricane arrived at Port Phillip Heads on 21 April 1869 and took on board Pilot Kennedy. Due to unfavourable winds, the Hurricane did not attempt to enter Port Phillip until daylight the next day.

      As the Hurricane entered The Heads it scraped the bottom twice near Point Lonsdale, but no notice was taken. The Hurricane hove to off Queenscliff to be cleared by the health officer and then proceeded up the South Channel. Shortly after it was noticed that the ship was dropping by the head. 6 feet of water was found in the forehold. The pilot headed for Capel Sound. The sail was shortened, the starboard anchor let go as the Hurricane sank by the head. People climbed into the rigging as the boats were lowered and crew and passengers put into them.

      The tug Titan arrived from Queenscliff, took off all of the passengers and crew, then headed up Port Phillip to Melbourne. Those on board the Hurricane has lost everything but the clothes they stood up in.

      The Hurricane was rediscovered by divers in March 1971.

      See also, Heritage Council Victoria: Hurricane,
      Australian National Shipwreck Database: Hurricane,
      Trove: Bendigo Advertiser, Sat 24 Apr 1869 - Wreck Of The Ship Hurricane In Port Phillip, and
      Trove: The Mercury, Tue 27 Apr 1869 - Wreck Of The Ship Hurricane In Port Phillip.

      This vessel is one of the many historic shipwrecks included in Victoria's Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail. Qualified divers can explore the wrecks of old wooden clippers, iron steamships and cargo and passenger vessels located along the coast and in Port Phillip. Some of these wreck dives are suitable for beginners, even snorkellers, while other wrecks require the skills and experience of advanced divers.

      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

      Scallop Dive Site
      Scallop Dive Site | © Phil Watdon

      Divers have the opportunity to catch a feed of Scallops (Pecten fumatus) at this dive site. Remember your catch bag and current Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence. Please abide by all current fishing regulations, such as the bag limit of 100 scallops each, if you intend to catch scallops. See Melbourne Scallop Dives for a list of other scallop dive sites near Melbourne.

      Safety Tip: We recommend you read our Boat Diving Safety and Using a Dive Float and Flag pages and use the described Cray/Drift Buoy Line Diver Freedom System when drift diving from a private boat for scallops.

      Findling the Hurricane

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

      • Book - Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads GPS (verified):
        Latitude: 38° 20.463′ S   (38.34105° S / 38° 20′ 27.78″ S)
        Longitude: 144° 52.308′ E   (144.8718° E / 144° 52′ 18.48″ E)
      • Dive Victoria:
        Latitude: 38° 20.455′ S   (38.34091667° S / 38° 20′ 27.3″ S)
        Longitude: 144° 52.308′ E   (144.8718° E / 144° 52′ 18.48″ E)

        15 m, bearing 0°, N
      • Geoff Rodda 1:
        Latitude: 38° 20.488′ S   (38.3414666667° S / 38° 20′ 29.28″ S)
        Longitude: 144° 52.319′ E   (144.871983333° E / 144° 52′ 19.14″ E)

        49 m, bearing 160°, SSE
      • Geoff Rodda 2:
        Latitude: 38° 20.487′ S   (38.34145° S / 38° 20′ 29.22″ S)
        Longitude: 144° 52.282′ E   (144.871366667° E / 144° 52′ 16.92″ E)

        58 m, bearing 220°, SW
      • Peter:
        Latitude: 38° 20.474′ S   (38.34123333° S / 38° 20′ 28.44″ S)
        Longitude: 144° 52.309′ E   (144.87181667° E / 144° 52′ 18.54″ E)

        20 m, bearing 175°, S
      • VHD:
        Latitude: 38° 20.468′ S   (38.341133° S / 38° 20′ 28.08″ S)
        Longitude: 144° 52.304′ E   (144.87173° E / 144° 52′ 18.23″ E)

        11 m, bearing 213°, SSW
      • Dave Kelly:
        Latitude: 38° 20.455′ S   (38.340919° S / 38° 20′ 27.31″ S)
        Longitude: 144° 52.328′ E   (144.872133° E / 144° 52′ 19.68″ E)

        32 m, bearing 63°, ENE

      Packo has created a Hurricane GPS plot for us using the GPS marks above.

      Hurricane GPS Plot
      Hurricane GPS Plot | © Packo

      Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country
      Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country

      Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes parts of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula, French Island and Phillip Island, plus Western Port. We wish to acknowledge the Boon Wurrung 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.


      Hurricane Location Map

      Latitude: 38° 20.463′ S   (38.34105° S / 38° 20′ 27.78″ S)
      Longitude: 144° 52.308′ E   (144.8718° E / 144° 52′ 18.48″ E)

      Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
      Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-07-17 22:51:56 GMT
      Source: Book - Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads GPS (verified)
      Nearest Neighbour: Rosebud Reef, 1,572 m, bearing 109°, ESE
      Capel Sound, Port Phillip.
      Three masted iron clipper, 1200 ton.
      Built: Glasgow, Scotland, 1853.
      Sunk: 22 April 1869.
      Depth: 8 to 12 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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