Wreck Dive | Boat access
The coal hulk Leeuwin was scuttled in the Victorian Ships' Graveyard, Bass Strait, on 28 December 1934. The vessel was originally the Julia Percy, a passenger and cargo steamer.
The Julia Percy was involved in many incidents during her 50 plus year career.
The Leeuwin, originally named the SS Julia Percy, and was a passenger and cargo steamer with a topsail schooner rig of 580 tons gross, built in 1876, by T. Wingate & Co, at Whiteinch, Scotland. The overall length of the vessel was 219 ft (67 m), with a beam of 24.2 ft (7.38 m) and a draught of 13 ft (3.96 m). She was powered by a steam engine of 180 nominal horsepower. She was built with an extreme clipper bow and elliptical stern.
The Julia Percy was named after Julia Percy Island, lying between Portland and Belfast (now Port Fairy).
The SS Julia Percy was built for the Victorian western district steamship trade to the order of Messrs. Robinson and Lilly. She was regarded as one of the prettiest vessels on the Australian coast. Her yacht-like lines, clipper bow and rakish masts were the envy of many a captain. She left Glasgow on 18 January 1876, and arrived in Melbourne in March 1876. The voyage took 58 days exclusive, of stoppages.
After unprofitable ownership she was sold to the Western Steam Navigation Co.
On the evening of 31 January 1879, the steamer Julia Percy, under the command of Captain Neilson, collided with the American ship St Joseph (1,146 tons) from New York, under the command of Captain Fales, at The Heads, Port Phillip.
On Sunday 10 August 1876, the Julia Percy grounded on the back beach Williamstown while under the command of Captain J.F. Neilson. The vessel came through Port Phillip Heads at 4:15 a.m. and at 6:37 a.m. went ashore at full speed.
At 9 p.m. on Saturday 24 December 1881, the Julia Percy passed through Port Phillip Heads on a voyage to Portland under the command of Captain Chapman. Shortly before 2 a.m. on Sunday 25 Decemer 1881, while some distance off Apollo Bay, to the east of Cape Otway, she collided with the steamship Nelson which was on a voyage from Warrnambool to Melbourne under the command of Captain Smith. The Julia Percy was badly holed above the water line, but fortunately her top plates were strong. The steamer Nelson grazed alongside before clearing. Some of the passengers on board the Julia Percy, when the collision occurred, jumped on board the Nelson, and one man named Steere was seriously injured by getting crushed between the two vessels. A passenger named Cutler fell overboard and was drowned. The vessels resumed their respective voyages, with the Nelson arriving at Melbourne on the same afternoon, whilst the Julia Percy reached Portland the same night.
In early 1887 the Julia Percy underwent a surgical operation which lengthened her by 21 ft (6.4 m) and increased her tonnage from 496 to 580.
In 1888, the tug Falcon ran into the stern of the Julia Percy while she was lying at the wharf in Melbourne and cut right through her plates.
The steamer Excelsior and the Julia Percy collided at 7 p.m. on Wednesday 28 August 1889 near the Point Gellibrand lightship. The Julia Percy was observed passing the end of the Williamstown Breakwater pier, bound on her usual trip to Warrnambool, Belfast, and Portland. The Excelsior was observed approaching from Geelong. Neither vessel gave way to the other and the vessels struck each other near the bows. The Excelsior backed her stern and proceeded on to Melbourne. While the figure head on the Julia Percy was completely smashed, and some plates on the port bow were bruised and scatched, the damage was considered minor and the vessel resumed her voyage.
In August 1892, the Julia Percy was involved in attempts to rescue crew from the barque Newfield off Schomberg Reef. Seventeen of the Newfield crew were rescued and ten lives were lost.
Sold in 1896 to Howard Smith Ltd. and ran between Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and North Queensland ports.
At 6 p.m. on Monday 5 May 1902, a fire broke out on the Julia Percy while lying alongside the wharf in Brisbane. By 7 p.m. the fire was extinguishe and the amount of damage eas not considerable.Sold in 1903, to Messrs. James Bell and Co., shipping brokers of Melbourne, and transferred to Western Australia as her owner had obtained a local mail contract.
In 1906 she was sold to Melbourne Steamship Co. and renamed Leeuwin, but continued in the Western Australian coastal run between Albany and Esperance, via Hopetoun, the port of the Phillips River gold field for some time.
On Wednesday 24 May 1905, at the exposed anchorage of Dongarra, WA, a strong south-west gale drove her against the jetty. The collision caused a hole in her side near the stern and the ship filled, and the Leeuwin sank in 18 ft of water. All on board were rescued. She was later raised and towed to Freemantle and then on to Melbourne.
Her hull was cut down, her bow cut off, as she was converted into a lighter coal hulk in 1910. She served as a coal hulk on the Melbourne waterfront for more than 25 years.
Too old to be of further use to her owners, the coal hulk Leeuwin, once the dignified and popular steamer Julia Percy, was towed through The Heads by the tug Keera at 7 a.m on Friday 28 December 1934. At 8:55 a.m. she was in position in the Victorian Ships' Graveyard, Bass Strait.
At 9:05 a.m. a roar of gelignite exploding rang the death knell of the Leeuwin. At 9:15 a.m. she started to sink slowly, unhurried, on an even keel, then her stern titled, and she slipped stern first into the water off Barwon Heads.
We have another GPS Mark for the Leeuwin (aka Julia Percy), just south-east of the Hygeia.
Source: Dive Victoria:
Latitude: 38° 21.267′ S (38.35445° S / 38° 21′ 16.02″ S)
Longitude: 144° 33.283′ E (144.5547167° E / 144° 33′ 16.98″ E)
825 m, bearing 251°, WSW
It would be interesting for someone to check it out and report back to us what, if anything, is there.
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.
Leeuwin Location Map
Latitude: 38° 21.129′ S (38.35215° S / 38° 21′ 7.74″ S)
Longitude: 144° 33.823′ E (144.563717° E / 144° 33′ 49.38″ E)
Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2022-05-21 06:50:20 GMT
Source: Book - Victoria's Ships' Graveyard GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Hygeia, 346 m, bearing 307°, NW
Passenger and Cargo Steamer, 580 ton.
Built: Whiteinch, Scotland, 1976.
Scuttled: 28 December 1932.
Victorian Ships' Graveyard, Bass Strait.
Depth: 62 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.