Wreck Dive | Boat access
Level: Advanced Open Water and beyond.
The Ridge Park shipwreck (aka S.S. Ridge Park) is located off the northern side of the exposed section of Beware Reef, near Cape Conran, East Gippsland. Beware Reef protects the wreck from small westerly and south-westerly swells. The most suitable winds light north to south-westerlies. The recommended anchorage is in about 14 m (46 ft) of water at the eastern end of the wreck, near the bow.
The widely scattered remains of the SS Ridge Park include the straight stemmed triangular bow structure, winch, a squashed boiler, the engine, propeller and broken up hull plating in 7 to 24 metres depth on the north-western side of Beware Reef.
The dive can be done from the boiler heading west along the wreckage towards the propeller and then work your way back up to the shallows and returning to your anchor.
All parts of the wreck are protected by law. The wreck of the S.S. Ridge Park lies across the northern face of Beware Reef. Its remains have been heavily salvaged over the years but still provide some interesting marine life and maritime history for the diver.
The engine lies at the western end of the wreck-site. The crank-shaft, pistons, connecting rods and other machinery associated with the engine lie around it. The iron propeller lies on the edge of the sand at the base of the reef. Most of it lies buried in the sand but can become more easily seen after storms have shifted the sand. A well preserved winch for raising the anchors lies in the middle of the wreck site with a small section of the deck to which it is attached. A large section of the lower hull lies along the north side of the reef in 16 metres of water.
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 S.S. Ridge Park was an iron screw steamer of 969 tons, built in 1878, by Austin & Co. of Sunderland, England, on a length of 214 ft., a breadth of 31 ft., and a depth of 15 ft. 5 in., It was owned by the Black Diamond Line of Adelaide and traded mainly between Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle as a collier.
On its final voyage the Ridge Park was traveling from Adelaide to Sydney with six passengers and a general cargo of mainly flour and brandy, under the command of Captain Heslop. After leaving Adelaide on the 3 February, the Ridge Park called in at Warrnambool to take on a cargo of potatoes. After passing Wilson's Promontory, the weather grew hazy as the wind freshened from the north-east, with a heavy sea.
Early in the morning of 10 February 1881 the steamer struck heavily on Beware Reef, with its head laying to the north-east. Within twenty minutes the engine-room was flooded, and the vessel sinking by the stern. The boats were ordered out, and all passengers, and crew successfully left the vessel, eventually reaching Gabo Island, where they were picked up by the steamer Wentworth and taken on to Sydney. The subsequent marine inquiry found the captain and mate guilty of careless navigation and their certificates were suspended for 3 months.
The hull and cargo were sold at auction and salvage began quickly with the Black Boy being sent to ascertain the condition of the wreck on Beware Reef and to see if salvage was worthwhile. As the conditions were favorable the recovery of the cargo began promptly being discharged into schooners alongside the wreck, however, by mid-March heavy southerly gales lashed the coast and the wreck slid of its ledge of rock and sank into deep water on the north side of Beware Reef. After the hull disappeared below the surface, some cargo was washed out and was deposited on the beach abreast of where the vessel sank, much to the delight of the local residents.
See also, Heritage Council Victoria: Ridge Park.
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.
This dive site lies in the Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary which is a challenging place to dive, please take care.
Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary encompasses a series of pinnacles of granite rock rising 30 metres off the sea floor, with only a small section at its northern extremity rising some two metres above sea level. This underwater mountain range runs for just over one kilometre to the south-east from the drying part of the reef, and the marine sanctuary that protects this unique reef covers an area of 220 hectares. The reef lies five kilometres to the south-east of Cape Conran and about three kilometres offshore from the beach at Yeerung River.
Dive sites at Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary include:
There are many other great sites for the inquisitive diver to explore here.
There is a boat ramp at West Cape, Cape Conran which is suitable for most vessels up to six metres and a 4WD is normally required for launch and retrieval. The ramp can be inundated with sand and kelp for short periods of time. Due to the shallow angle of the ramp, low tides can be difficult to launch and retrieve vessels.
The boat launch site is exposed to westerly/ south-westerly winds and ocean swells. Calm sea conditions with light northerly winds and higher tides is ideal.
From the boat ramp at West Cape, avoid 'prop rock' which is about 50 metres directly out from the ramp and very shallow at low tide, and head south until you round the cape. Once clear of the cape head in an easterly direction for about 4 kilometres. The exposed section of Beware Reef is visible on a clear day once you clear the tip of Cape Conran. Often whitewater can be seen breaking on the exposed reef before the bare rock itself is sighted.
Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary Boundaries
NW corner of sanctuary
Latitude: 37° 48.883′ S (37.81472222° S / 37° 48′ 53″ S)
Longitude: 148° 46.700′ E (148.77833333° E / 148° 46′ 42″ E)
NE corner of sanctuary
Latitude: 37° 48.867′ S (37.81444444° S / 37° 48′ 52″ S)
Longitude: 148° 47.717′ E (148.79527778° E / 148° 47′ 43″ E)
SW corner of sanctuary
Latitude: 37° 49.683′ S (37.82805556° S / 37° 49′ 41″ S)
Longitude: 148° 46.717′ E (148.77861111° E / 148° 46′ 43″ E)
SE corner of sanctuary
Latitude: 37° 49.667′ S (37.82777778° S / 37° 49′ 40″ S)
Longitude: 148° 47.733′ E (148.79555556° E / 148° 47′ 44″ E)
See also, Parks Victoria: Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary,
Park Note: Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary,
Facebook: Friends of Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary,
Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary Divers Guide, and
Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary Identification Booklet Third Edition.
You are not permitted to carry a spear gun while snorkelling or scuba diving in Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary.
Traditional Owners — This dive site does not lie in the acknowledged traditional Country of any first peoples of Australia.
Ridge Park Location Map
Latitude: 37° 49.092′ S (37.8182° S / 37° 49′ 5.52″ S)
Longitude: 148° 47.050′ E (148.784167° E / 148° 47′ 3″ E)
Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2021-01-29 19:12:52 GMT, Last updated: 2022-04-27 00:59:40 GMT
Source: Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary Divers Guide
Nearest Neighbour: Auckland, 126 m, bearing 184°, S
Iron Screw Steamer, 969 ton.
Built: Sunderland, England, 1878.
Sunk: 10 February 1881.
Depth: 7 to 24.
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.