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Wreck Dive Wreck Dive | Shore access Shore access

Ideal For Snorkelling Open Water Rated Wreck Dive Site

Three-Masted Wooden Barque | Max Depth: 3 m (9.84 ft)

The Socrates shipwreck lies out from the shore opposite Moyne Court in Port Fairy Bay on Victoria's Shipwreck Coast. Port Fairy Bay is notorious for vessels dragging and parting with their anchors when southerly and south-easterly gales prevailed. A total of 30 vessels were wrecked in and around the waters of Port Fairy between 1836 until 1876.

Diving the Socrates shipwreck requires calm conditions and a very low swell. See WillyWeather (Port Fairy Bay) as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.

Socrates Shipwreck History — Built in 1821

The Socrates was a three-masted wooden barque of 152 tons, built in 1821, by William, James and Robert Tindall at Scarborough, United Kingdom. The vessel was 79.9 ft (24 m) in length with a beam of 20.9 ft (6.37 m) and a depth of 12.5 ft (3.81 m).

The Socrates was listed in Lloyds as a schooner in 1822. Described as snow brig of 152 tons in 1832 (SA Shipping Arrivals and Departures). Later converted to barque rig. Listed as three-masted ship in Parsons.

The Socrates was owned by Michael Connolly and John Griffiths, two Launceston whaling identities, and early settlers of Port Fairy. Connolly was also a member of the Port Phillip Association who sent Batman to find land across Bass Strait.

The Socrates had been used for whaling and trading between 1821 and 1843 and at the time it was wrecked was being used to transport produce from Port Fairy, which at the time was undergoing a transition from a whaling station to an agricultural and rural settlement of commercial importance.

After the boom in bay whaling in Tasmanian and Victorian waters the depression of the 1840s had set in and the Socrates was involved in carrying anything from timber, hay, general goods and livestock in the Bass Strait trade between Tasmania and Victoria. Connolly had attempted to sell the Socrates a month before it was wrecked.

Socrates Sinking — 31 August 1843

The British built whaler Socrates was wrecked on 31 August 1843 with its cargo of cattle, sheep and oil from Launceston, Tasmania. The Socrates sailed from Launceston for Port Fairy via Portland on 12 August 1843, and arrived in Port Fairy safety. On the 30 August 1843 a strong gale was blowing from the south-west, and the Socrates riding with two anchors, parted from the best bower. On 31 August 1843, the gale abated, and a dead calm succeeded, with a heavy sea rolling in from the south. The Socrates parted from the second anchor, drove on the beach, fell on her beam ends, and immediately filled. She was soon bilged and full of sand. Her master, Captain Grant had hoped to re-float her however a board of Masters declared her a total wreck.

See also, west-coast-shipwreck-trail,
Heritage Council Victoria: Socrates, and
Australian National Shipwreck Database: Socrates.


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

Eastern Maar country
Eastern Maar country

Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Eastern Maar people of south-western Victoria between the Shaw and Eumerella Rivers and from Yambuk in the south to beyond Lake Linlithgow in the north. This truly ancient Country extends as far north as Ararat and encompasses the coastal townships of Port Fairy in the west, Warrnambool, Peterborough, Port Campbell, Apollo Bay, Lorne, and Airies Inlet in the east, including the Great Ocean Road area. It also stretches 100 metres out to sea from low tide and therefore includes the iconic Twelve Apostles. "Eastern Maar" is a name adopted by the people who identify as Maar, Eastern Gunditjmara, Tjap Wurrung, Peek Whurrong, Kirrae Whurrung, Kuurn Kopan Noot and/or Yarro waetch (Tooram Tribe) amongst others. We wish to acknowledge the Eastern Maar as Traditional Owners. We pay respect to their Ancestors and their Elders, past, present and emerging.


Socrates Location Map

Latitude: 38° 22.853′ S   (38.380888° S / 38° 22′ 51.2″ S)
Longitude: 142° 14.677′ E   (142.244612° E / 142° 14′ 40.6″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map | Get directions
Added: 2021-06-18 12:06:03 GMT, Last updated: 2022-05-23 19:10:13 GMT
Source: GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Lydia, 162 m, bearing 176°, S
Three-Masted Wooden Barque.
Built: Scarborough, UK, 1821.
Sunk: 31 August 1843.
Port Fairy, Shipwreck Coast.
Depth: 1 to 3 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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