Victoria Tower

Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

Three Masted Iron Sailing Clipper | Max Depth: 8 metres (26 feet)

The Victoria Tower was a magnificent three masted, iron hulled, sailing clipper ship, one of a small class of general cargo traders. On her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England, with 34 passengers aboard, the Victoria Tower ran ashore in thick weather on 17 October 1869 at Point Impossible, west of Thompsons Creek, Breamlea in the Torquay region. For divers the legacy of this disaster is the most intact historic shipwreck accessible between Point Lonsdale and Cape Otway. The iron construction has borne up well over the last 130 years, and the dimensions and features of the wreck are easily identifiable.

Diving the Victoria Tower

The shipwreck of the Victoria Tower lies in approximately 5 metres (16 feet) to 8 metres (26 feet) of water on the Victoria Reef, a limestone network of underwater caves and gullies. The wreckage extends for approximately 100 metres (328 feet) and lies broadside to the shore with its bow facing east.

The most impressive part of the wreck is the bow which is intact. Divers can see a large section of the hull, and the bowsprit and martingale in this region of the wreck site. Good examples of the ship's upright frames can be seen at the starboard midships. Towards the bow and between the deck framing are two hatches either side of the foremast step.

The masts and yard arm lie on the seaward side of the wreckage.

The site has been extensively salvaged, though divers can sometimes see fragments of ceramics scattered around the wreck and pieces of slate and glass bottles in the hull.

Victoria Tower Dive Site Map
Victoria Tower Dive Site Map | © Victorian Archaeological Survey

Victoria Reef is subject to heavy surge even in a low swell. When local rivers are in flood, visibility is extremely poor.

Victoria Tower History

Victoria Tower Wreck
Victoria Tower Wreck
© Unknown

Named after one of the two towers of the British Houses of Parliament, the iron clipper Victoria Tower was an equally magnificent construction. Like the four-masted iron barques George Roper (1883) and Holyhead (1890) wrecked on Lonsdale Reef also while approaching Port Phillip Heads, the Victoria Tower had been built in Liverpool for the Australian trade, and was wrecked on its maiden voyage.

The Victoria Tower is archaeologically significant as the wreck of an international inward-bound passenger and cargo vessel. It is educationally and recreationally significant as a coherently intact example of a British built iron clipper i.e.: representative of a class or type.

The Victoria Tower made landfall on 17 October 1869 after a voyage of 85 days from Liverpool, England to Melbourne. She ran into dense fog soon after rounding Cape Otway and this prevented an accurate estimate of her position. She struck without warning, the force driving the mainmast through her keel and breaking her back; drove broadside on to the sea about 400 yards from the shore. Most of the crew and forty passengers were still on board but as the sea calmed all were landed, using the ship's boats and local fishing craft.

The Victoria Tower was built in 1869 by Evans in Liverpool, England, as a three masted, iron sailing clipper ship with a length of 247 feet (75 metres), a beam of 39 feet (12 metres), and a draught of 24 feet (7.3 metres).

See also, Australian National Shipwreck Database: Victoria Tower
Heritage Council Victoria: Victoria Tower, and
Dive Information Sheet: Victoria Tower (1869-1869) (Adobe PDF | 542.03 KB).

Latitude: 38° 18.971′ S   (38.316183° S / 38° 18′ 58.26″ S)
Longitude: 144° 22.002′ E   (144.3667° E / 144° 22′ 0.12″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-03-20 06:23:49 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Torquay Offshore Artificial Reef, 2,295 m, bearing 168°, SSE
Three masted iron hulled clipper, 1563 ton.
Sunk: 1869.
Depth: 8 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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