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South Milton

Wreck Dive Wreck Dive | Boat access Boat access

Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

Wooden Barque | Max Depth: 17 m (56 ft)

Level: Open Water and beyond.

The South Milton shipwreck lies off Charlemont Reef, Barwon Heads on Victoria's Surf Coast in Bass Strait.

Diving the South Milton Shipwreck

South Milton Dive
South Milton Dive
Source: Heritage Victoria

The site is recorded to have been found by abalone diver Bob Bruce, while working a patch of reef when he noticed iron and copper alloy shipwreck material concreted into the reef (Denmead: 72). Today, following visits from divers over the last 20 years, nearly all of the valuable artefacts and copper alloy fastenings and sheathing have disappeared from the site. However, the site is still an interesting dive.

Lying in 17 metres, and depending on sand movement, a lot of major ironwork including concreted stud link chain, chainplates (iron strapping and stays with wooden deadeyes, mounted to the hull to carry the standing rigging), and cargo hatch coamings are evident.

The most striking features of the site are two iron anchors 8 metres apart, lying apparently as if still stowed. A third anchor lies 40 metres north. All appear to be best bower anchors for a vessel over 250 tons (MHU Wreck Inspection Report). Among artefacts known to have been recovered are a signal gun and swivel mount, a ship's navigation lantern and numerous copper alloy drift bolt fastenings.

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.

South Milton Shipwreck History — Built in 1877

The South Milton was a wooden barque, built in 1877, by J. Crown in Sunderland, England. The 607 ton vessel had an overall length of approximately 159 ft (48 m), beam 30.7 ft (9.36 m) and draught 17.9 ft (5.46 m).

South Milton Sinking — 10 April 1886

The South Milton sank due to careless navigation on Saturday 10 April 1886 nearing the end of a voyage from Cardiff to Port Louis, Mauritius and on to Melbourne with a cargo of 840 tons sugar.

The South Milton has historical and archaeological significance as the wreck of an inward bound international merchant ship, although the site near Charlemont Reef, Barwon Heads, does not retain a high level of integrity being easily accessible by boat and having been extensively visited over the years. It represents the remains of a typical 19th century British built wooden sailing vessel i.e.: representative of a type.

See also, Heritage Council Victoria: South Milton, and
Trove: Wreck Of The Baroue South Milton At Barwon Heads.

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

Wathaurong (Wadda-Warrung) country
Wathaurong (Wadda-Warrung) country

Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Wathaurong (Wadda-Warrung) people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes the coastline of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-east, the Bellarine Peninsula, and down to Cape Otway in the south-west. We wish to acknowledge the Wathaurong 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.


South Milton Location Map

Latitude: 38° 18.130′ S   (38.302167° S / 38° 18′ 7.8″ S)
Longitude: 144° 29.060′ E   (144.484333° E / 144° 29′ 3.6″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2022-04-27 21:18:58 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Earl Of Charlemont, 1,415 m, bearing 50°, NE
Wooden Barque.
Built: Sunderland, England, 1877.
Sunk: 10 April 1886.
Charlemont Reef, Barwon Heads, Surf Coast.
Depth: 17 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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