Melbourne Wreck Dives

Does wreck diving stir your sense of adventure?

Diving the Ships' Graveyard, Victoria, Australia
Diving Victoria's Ships' Graveyard
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has a rich maritime history. This has resulted in more than 800 ships coming to grief in Victoria waters with only about 30% of them having been found. Plus, there is an extensive Ships' Graveyard of scuttled shipwrecks south of Melbourne in Bass Strait, not far from the entrance to Port Phillip Bay and the Port of Melbourne.

Note: Click on images to see larger versions.

ex HMAS Canberra Warship


Join seals, seahorses and stingrays on a dive below the waves of Bass Strait. Explore the decks and galleys of the wrecked HMAS Canberra — Victoria's first artificial reef created for the sole purpose of diving.

HMAS Canberra FFG 02 in 2002
HMAS Canberra FFG 02 bow on
© Department of Defence

The ex HMAS Canberra dive site is the first artificial reef specifically created for diving in Victoria. It lies in approximately 28 metres of water, with the top of the mast about 5 metres below the surface at low tide. The site provides opportunities for divers with varying levels of experience and certification, from open water level certificates to advanced wreck divers, to enjoy this site.

You can learn more about the ex HMAS Canberra on the following web pages:

Parks Victoria Dive Site Maps
Parks Victoria Dive Site Maps
© Parks Victoria

Divers are able to access the superstructure of all decks. Highlights are the junior mess mural, the captain's cabin, the bridge, galley, mess decks and operations room. These areas have been left as intact as possible to create additional interest for divers, plus nooks and crannies for creatures. Please note that this can make the dive more challenging. Please don't scavenge from the ex HMAS Canberra. It's illegal. Plus, if you do, it won't be long before you destroy the thing you came to see.

Parks Victoria Scuttling Survey
Parks Victoria Scuttling Survey
© Parks Victoria

To see the whole 138 metres (453 feet) long, 14.3 metres (47 feet) beam, 4,100 tonne (4,519 short tons) displacement ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 ship, you'll want to do at least 20 dives, but you can certainly get a feel for the majesty of the wreck after even a few dives.

See also Wikipedia: HMAS Canberra (FFG_02).

Latitude: 38° 17.987′ S   (38.299783° S / 38° 17′ 59.22″ S)
Longitude: 144° 32.610′ E   (144.5435° E / 144° 32′ 36.6″ E)

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Victoria's Ships' Graveyard

Victorian Ships' Graveyard
Victorian Ships' Graveyard
© Rowan D. Stevens

South of Melbourne there is a Ships' Graveyard. It's located 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) east of Torquay's Fisherman's Beach through to Point Lonsdale. There are 46 known wrecks to choose from. They consist of tugs, dredges, barges, lighters, coastal freighter, World War One submarines, a paddle steamer plus a patrol boat. Many of these vessels were stripped down and scuttled by an explosive charge or an opened valve cock, and many remain fairly intact to this day.

Victoria's Ships' Graveyard
Victoria's Ships' Graveyard
© Scuttlebutt Press

These vessels were decommissioned from the early 1900s through to 1999 and range in depth from 30 metres (98 feet) to 82 metres (269 feet). Penetration can be had on some wrecks, and there is little tidal current or shipping to be concerned with so wrecks can be dived at any time of the day. The main constraints are wind strength and the size of the swell.

The best reference work on these wrecks is:
"Victoria's Ships' Graveyard"
Authors: Mark Ryan, Peter Taylor & Mick Whitmore
Published: 2009 by Scuttlebutt Press
ISBN: 9780980590203
Status: Out of print.


Albert

Wooden Ketch | Max Depth: 70 metres (230 feet)

Albert
Albert
© Unknown

The Albert was a ketch that sprang a leak in rough seas shortly after leaving Lorne, Victoria for Melbourne. The pilot schooner Rip took her in tow but she founded about three nautical miles outside Port Phillip heads.

Built in 1884 and sunk on 13 August 1890, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 22.43 metres (74 feet), beam 6.13 metres (20 feet) with a displacement weight of 42 tonne (46 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 44.862′ S   (38.7477° S / 38° 44′ 51.72″ S)
Longitude: 146° 39.576′ E   (146.6596° E / 146° 39′ 34.56″ E)

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Alert

Screw Steamer | Max Depth: 77 metres (253 feet)

Alert
Alert
© Unknown

The SS Alert was lost on its regular Gippsland run in 1893. According to the Argus, the weather off the coast of Victoria at the time of the sinking was the worst for many months. On 30 December 1893 the Argus reported the loss of the steamer off Cape Schank whilst on a voyage from Lakes Entrance to Melbourne via Port Albert. Of the sixteen crew there was only one survivor, Robert Ponting, the ship's cook, who managed to get ashore at the Sorrento Back Beach. According to Ponting, the vessel foundered in very rough conditions after shipping a number of heavy seas which extinguished the fires in the boilers. During the Marine Board of Inquiry it became apparent the vessel had been incorrectly loaded prior to its voyage.

Wreck sits upright on sandy bottom in very good condition with several areas capable of penetration. Bow is intact to deck level (fo'csle) forward of the collision bulkhead, with capstan in situ on deck and companionway to lower deck clearly visble. Aft of the collision bulkhead deck has collapsed, frames intact. Engine and boiler exposed. Debris scattered off to both sides of hull. Intact and broken bottles and ceramics on site midships to stern, including ceramic whisky-style bottles. Mast on site. Prop shaft clearly visible in prop aperture, but blades are broken and missing.

Built in 1877 in Glasgow, Scottland the SS Alert sailed to Australia as a three masted schooner with her funnel and propeller stoed ithe hold. The Alert was used primarily for carrying passengers and cargo between Melbourne and Geelong and provided 16 years of reliable service. Replacing the SS Despatch on the Gippsland to Melbourne run, the Alert was sunk on 28 December 1893. The overall length of the vessel was approximately 51.51 metres (169 feet), beam 5.97 metres (20 feet), with a displacement weight of 243 tonne (268 short tons).

The site of the Alert is a historic shipwreck protected zone with a 500 metre radius. A permit from Heritage Victoria is required to dive the Alert.

See also Wikipedia: SS Alert.

Latitude: 38° 29.217′ S   (38.486944° S / 38° 29′ 13″ S)
Longitude: 144° 45.033′ E   (144.750556° E / 144° 45′ 2″ E)

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Auriga

3 Masted Iron Barque | Max Depth: 57 metres (187 feet)

Auriga
Auriga
© Unknown

The Auriga was an iron barque that had previously been involved in the Australian to New Zealand trade and coal trade. It was used by the Melbourne Harbour Trust as a hulk until it was scuttled.

Built in 1869 and scuttled on 5 February 1930, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 50.1 metres (164 feet), beam 8.6 metres (28 feet) and draught 5.3 metres (17 feet) with a displacement weight of 490 tonne (540 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 20.771′ S   (38.346175° S / 38° 20′ 46.23″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.210′ E   (144.570168° E / 144° 34′ 12.6″ E)

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Batman

Steam Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 46 metres (151 feet)

Batman
Batman
© Unknown

Sister vessel to the Fawkner.

The armed steam hopper barge Batman and its sister ship Fawkner were operated by the Melbourne Harbour Trust, and added to the Victorian Colonial Navy in 1883 as naval auxiliary vessels. Both the Batman and Fawkner were first armed in 1885 with one six inch gun and two Nordenfelt machine guns, and their engine rooms were protected with armour plating.

Built in 1883 and scuttled on 21 May 1935, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 47.7 metres (156 feet), beam 8 metres (26 feet) and draught 3.7 metres (12 feet) with a displacement weight of 352 tonne (388 short tons).

She now lies facing north south with her bow toward the north.

Latitude: 38° 21.306′ S   (38.3551° S / 38° 21′ 18.36″ S)
Longitude: 144° 24.659′ E   (144.410983° E / 144° 24′ 39.54″ E)

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Bayonet

Attack Class Patrol Boat | Max Depth: 82 metres (269 feet)

Bayonet
Bayonet
© John Mitchell

The HMAS Bayonet (P 101) was laid down at Maryborough, Queensland in 1968. She was designed to travel of speeds up to 24 knots and has 20 identical sister ships. After being launched on 6 November 1968 she was commissioned on 22nd February 1969 and assigned for coastal patrol duties. She continued her service as a patrol boat for many years until being used as a training vessel for new cadets. The Navy scuttled the Bayonette on 23 September 1999 in deep water off Cape Schanck.

Built in 1968 and scuttled on 23 September 1999, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 32.6 metres (107 feet), beam 6.1 metres (20 feet) with a displacement weight of 150 tonne (165 short tons).

The wreck site was located on 23 December 2001 by the Red October Group, being the culmination of 12 months planning and lead up dives.

See also Wikipedia: HMAS Bayonet (P 101).

Latitude: 38° 43.050′ S   (38.7175° S / 38° 43′ 3″ S)
Longitude: 144° 35.250′ E   (144.5875° E / 144° 35′ 15″ E)

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Beverwyk 19

Steam Dredge | Max Depth: 46 metres (151 feet)

Beverwyk 19
Beverwyk 19
© Unknown

The Beverwyk 19 (Beverwijk 19) was built in 1912 and scuttled on 7 May 1963. A steam powered, steel hulled suction cutter dredge, with a displacement weight of 319 tonne (352 short tons), it was bought to Australia in the 1950s to carry out various dredging projects in Port Phillip.

She lies with her bow pointing toward Barwon Heads. The suction pipe is still prominent on the bow section as is a lot of her pumping gear.

Latitude: 38° 21.120′ S   (38.352° S / 38° 21′ 7.2″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.171′ E   (144.419517° E / 144° 25′ 10.26″ E)

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Birch Grove

Barque, Lighter

Built in 1856 and scuttled on 8 February 1932, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 41.67 metres (137 feet), beam 8.6 metres (28 feet) and draught 5.7 metres (19 feet) with a displacement weight of 470 tonne (518 short tons).

Location: Nobbies, Phillip Island

Brunette

Iron Barque, Coal Hulk | Max Depth: 70 metres (230 feet)

The Brunette was built in 1859 at Deptford, UK and originally named Pride of the West. In January 1892 the Brunette's days as a deep water square rigger were over and she was converted to a coal hulk. After 54 years of service, the former barque Brunette was towed out to sea and scuttled in the ship's graveyard in Juy 1913.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 43 metres (141 feet), beam 7.7 metres (25 feet) and draught 4.8 metres (16 feet) with a displacement weight of 349 tonne (385 short tons).

Found in January 2006 by the Southern Ocean Exploration group.

Latitude: 38° 22.341′ S   (38.372351° S / 38° 22′ 20.46″ S)
Longitude: 144° 32.006′ E   (144.533428° E / 144° 32′ 0.34″ E)

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Buninyong

Iron Hulled Steamship | Max Depth: 54 metres (177 feet)

Buninyong
Buninyong
© Unknown

The Buninyong was a popular passenger vessel in her time operating on the Melbourne to Sydney run. Later she was converted to a cargo vessel. After a career spanning more than 40 years, the Buninyong was withdrawn from service, stripped of fittings and scuttled in the Ships' Graveyard.

Built in 1883 and scuttled on 11 February 1926, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 85.3 metres (280 feet), beam 11.6 metres (38 feet) and draught 6.2 metres (20 feet) with a displacement weight of 1,883 tonne (2,076 short tons).

She now lies with her bow facing toward Barwon heads. She has three distinctive boilers: 2 large and 1 small.

Latitude: 38° 20.224′ S   (38.337072° S / 38° 20′ 13.46″ S)
Longitude: 144° 31.041′ E   (144.517342° E / 144° 31′ 2.43″ E)

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Bunyip

Steam Driven Iron Dredge | Max Depth: 58 metres (190 feet)

Bunyip
Bunyip
© Unknown

After working as a dredge for 42 years, the Bunyip was converted into a lighter. In 1954, while loaded with wool, the vessel blew ashore on the sea wall at Princes Pier, breaking its back. The following year it was towed to the Ships' Graveyard and scuttled.

Built in 1879 and scuttled on 13 April 1955, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 48.9 metres (160 feet), beam 8.6 metres (28 feet) and draught 3 metres (9.8 feet) with a displacement weight of 287 tonne (316 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 22.305′ S   (38.371758° S / 38° 22′ 18.33″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.563′ E   (144.426057° E / 144° 25′ 33.81″ E)

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Burke

Steam Driven Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 50 metres (164 feet)

Burke
Burke
© Unknown

Sister vessel to the Wills.

The Burke and Wills were built in Adelaide in 1884. They were purchased by the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1889. The Burke was scuttled on 23 September 1935.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 39 metres (128 feet), beam 9 metres (30 feet) and draught 2.9 metres (9.5 feet) with a displacement weight of 313 tonne (345 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 20.999′ S   (38.349987° S / 38° 20′ 59.95″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.982′ E   (144.433037° E / 144° 25′ 58.93″ E)

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Campana

3 Masted Barque, Coal Hulk | Max Depth: 58 metres (190 feet)

Built in 1875 as a three masted sailing ship, the SV Campana was purchased by the Melbourne-based shipping company McIlwraith, McEacharn Ltd, for use as a coal hulk. After outliving this use, the vessel was scuttled in the Ships Graveyard on 30 July 1929.

The bow steelworks are in-tact and provide easy penetration and multiple swim through locations. As the wreck is on the shipping leads it is always subject to shipping.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 58.5 metres (192 feet), beam 9.7 metres (32 feet) and draught 5.9 metres (19 feet) with a displacement weight of 739 tonne (815 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 20.854′ S   (38.347567° S / 38° 20′ 51.24″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.150′ E   (144.569167° E / 144° 34′ 9″ E)

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Casablanca

3 Masted Iron Barque, Lighter | Max Depth: 57 metres (187 feet)

Casablanca
Casablanca
© Unknown

Built in 1868, the barque Casablanca was converted into a coal hulk in 1912. After serving in this capacity for Melbourne Steamships until 1950, the vessel was scuttled in the Ships Graveyard on 16 February 1950.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 52.5 metres (172 feet), beam 8.5 metres (28 feet) and draught 5.3 metres (17 feet) with a displacement weight of 545 tonne (601 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.777′ S   (38.362953° S / 38° 21′ 46.63″ S)
Longitude: 144° 26.332′ E   (144.438867° E / 144° 26′ 19.92″ E)

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Coogee

Steel Hulled Steam Ship | Max Depth: 35 metres (115 feet)

Coogee
Coogee
© Unknown

Built as the Lancashire Witch for service between Liverpool and the Isle of Man. She was purchased by Huddart Parker in 1888 and renamed SS Coogee. She was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy as a minesweeper in Bass Strait and also as an armed patrol vessel on 20 May 1918 as HMAS Coogee. She was returned to her owners in 1919, before being chartered by the Telegraph Department in 1921 to repair damage to the Bass Strait cable.

A steamship used to transpost cargo and passengers the SS Coogee lies in 35 metres (115 feet) of water approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) offshore between Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads.

The vessel lies with its bow pointed towards shore (facing north) on a flat limestone and sand seabed. The now rests on the sand at 33 metres (108 feet) and the stern is at 35 metres (115 feet) depth. The bow and stern are the most complete structures of the wreck as most of the midships section is flattened or missing — most likely due to the use of explosives to scuttle the ship.

SS Coogee bow, Victoria, Australia
SS Coogee bow, Victoria
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

At the bow, divers can see some of the original ship railings. At the stern, the rudder and rudder quadrant (used to steer the rudder) are still in position. In this area divers will also be able to see the remains of the two decks.

The Coogee's engine was removed prior to the steamship being scuttled on 27 February 1928 using explosive charges. However the engine bed and intact bowlers can be seen amidships. Hatches can be seen in the middle of the ship on the centre line.

Built in 1887 and scuttled on 27 February 1928, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 68.5 metres (225 feet), beam 9.2 metres (30 feet) and draught 4.1 metres (13 feet) with a displacement weight of 691 tonne (762 short tons).

For more information see the SS Coogee page on the Heritage Victoria web site, or download/view the SS Coogee Dive Information Sheet (Adobe PDF | 276.15 KB). See also Wikipedia: HMAS Coogee.


Coogee Wreck from Alan Beckhurst on Vimeo.

Latitude: 38° 18.421′ S   (38.307022° S / 38° 18′ 25.28″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.306′ E   (144.571767° E / 144° 34′ 18.36″ E)

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Courier

Steel Hulled Steam Ship | Max Depth: 42 metres (138 feet)

Courier
Courier
© Unknown

The steel steamer Courier was launched in 1887 and spent her entire working life on Port Phillip Bay. In 1927 the Courier was sold to Melbourne ship-breakers and stripped of valuable fittings. On 29 March 1928 she was scuttled north-east of the Ships' Graveyard. She now lies in 42 metres (138 feet) of water, and is an accessible dive to deep-trained recreational divers.

Courier stern, Victoria, Australia
Courier stern, Victoria
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

As with many of the wrecks in the Ships' Graveyard, the hull has mostly collapsed. The bow and stern sections are lying over to starboard and are the best preserved parts of the hull. The foredeck still retains a considerable amount of planking, a few deck fittings and some railing on the starboard side. This deck area is quite large and is an impressive sight, standing approximately seven metres off the bottom.

Immediately behind this, the hull has totally collapsed, leaving the main deck hatch coaming sitting on the bottom. Behind this are the two boilers sitting in line. On days with good visibility the dark shape of the stern can just be seen in the distance, although to see this close up requires a separate dive. The stem is also an impressive sight, but it is less structurally intact than the bow. The shape of the vessel's counter stern is still recognisable, and just forward of this, there is the remains of some superstructure.

Built in 1887 and scuttled on 29 March 1929, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 67.3 metres (221 feet), beam 9.1 metres (30 feet) and draught 3.8 metres (12 feet) with a displacement weight of 660 tonne (728 short tons).


Courier Wreck from Alan Beckhurst on Vimeo.

Latitude: 38° 19.488′ S   (38.324797° S / 38° 19′ 29.27″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.920′ E   (144.582008° E / 144° 34′ 55.23″ E)

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D McLennan

Steam Driven Dredge | Max Depth: 58 metres (190 feet)

D McLennan
D McLennan
© Melbourne Harbor Trust

The D. McLennan was a Steel Steam Dredge built in Leyden, Holland in 1912. Purchased by the Melbourne Harbour Trust and brought into commission in 1925. The dredge was capable of dredging to 59 feet and it worked on various dredging projects within the port until it was condemned in 1949. After being stripped of all items of value it was scuttled in the Ships Graveyard on 8 June 1949.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 50.5 metres (166 feet), beam 8.9 metres (29 feet) and draught 2.4 metres (7.9 feet) with a displacement weight of 385 tonne (424 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 22.104′ S   (38.368392° S / 38° 22′ 6.21″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.983′ E   (144.433055° E / 144° 25′ 59″ E)

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Don Diego

Iron Barque, Coal Hulk | Max Depth: 72 metres (236 feet)

Don Diego
Don Diego
© Unknown

The Don Diego was a 3 masted iron barque built in 1855 in Greenock, Scottland and scuttled on 26 May 1916.

She appears to have been well stripped and was probably only a hulk on scuttling. Bow and stern rise around 4 metres (13 feet) from the seabed with the amidships lying flat.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 44.4 metres (146 feet), beam 7.4 metres (24 feet) and draught 4.2 metres (14 feet) with a displacement weight of 290 tonne (320 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 23.726′ S   (38.395433° S / 38° 23′ 43.56″ S)
Longitude: 144° 32.055′ E   (144.534253° E / 144° 32′ 3.31″ E)

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Dunloe

3 Masted Iron Barque, Coal Hulk | Max Depth: 46 metres (151 feet)

Dunloe
Dunloe
© Geoff Nayler

On its last voyage under sail, the full-rigged ship Dunloe sailed from Sydney Heads to Port Phillip Heads in just 40 hours. It was then converted into a coal hulk and served in this capacity from 1909 to 1947 when, at the age of 77, it was scuttled in the Ships' Graveyard.

Built in 1870 and scuttled on 2 July 1947, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 55 metres (180 feet), beam 9.3 metres (31 feet) and draught 5.6 metres (18 feet) with a displacement weight of 639 tonne (704 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.360′ S   (38.356° S / 38° 21′ 21.6″ S)
Longitude: 144° 24.205′ E   (144.403417° E / 144° 24′ 12.3″ E)

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Edward Northcote

Steam Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 52 metres (171 feet)

Edward Northcote
Edward Northcote
© Unknown

The Edward Northcote was built in 1912 as a steamship and later converted into a hopper, number 405.

Built in 1911 and scuttled on 6 November 1952, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 48.7 metres (160 feet), beam 8.6 metres (28 feet) and draught 3.8 metres (12 feet) with a displacement weight of 449 tonne (495 short tons).

Lots of the wreck still remains and the props are still on the wreck.

Latitude: 38° 21.369′ S   (38.356157° S / 38° 21′ 22.17″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.799′ E   (144.429983° E / 144° 25′ 47.94″ E)

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Euro

Steam Tug | Max Depth: 50 metres (164 feet)

Euro
Euro
© Unknown

The steam tug Euro was owned by the Adelaide Steamship Company for most of its working life before being sold to Howard Smith's Australian Steamships, based in Melbourne. After half a century of use, it was stripped of fittings and scuttled in the Ships' Graveyard on 10 June 1948.

Built in 1897 at Dundee, Scotland the overall length of the vessel was approximately 39.6 metres (130 feet), beam 6.9 metres (23 feet) and draught 3.7 metres (12 feet) with a displacement weight of 233 tonne (257 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 20.744′ S   (38.345738° S / 38° 20′ 44.66″ S)
Longitude: 144° 26.094′ E   (144.434905° E / 144° 26′ 5.66″ E)

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Fawkner

Steam Driven Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 46 metres (151 feet)

Fawkner
Fawkner
© Unknown

Sister vessel to the Batman.

The armed steam hopper barge Fawkner and its sister ship Batman were operated by the Melbourne Harbour Trust, and added to the Victorian Colonial Navy in 1883 as naval auxiliary vessels. Both the Fawkner and Batman were first armed in 1885 with one six inch gun and two Nordenfelt machine guns, and their engine rooms were protected with armour plating.

Built in 1883 and scuttled on 20 May 1935, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 46.8 metres (154 feet), beam 8 metres (26 feet) and draught 3.7 metres (12 feet) with a displacement weight of 352 tonne (388 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.378′ S   (38.3563° S / 38° 21′ 22.68″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.310′ E   (144.421833° E / 144° 25′ 18.6″ E)

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Helen

3 Masted Barque, Coal Hulk

Helen
Helen
© Bob Leek

The barque Helen had a career spanning over 70 years. It was a trader, immigrant ship and whaler, but in its later years was reduced to a coal hulk. In 1938 it was towed through Port Phillip heads and cast ashore near Cape Schank to be broken up by the sea.

Built in 1864 and scuttled in March 1938, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 41.2 metres (135 feet), beam 7.7 metres (25 feet) and draught 4.2 metres (14 feet) with a displacement weight of 310 tonne (342 short tons).

H.C. Piggot

Steam Driven Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 48 metres (157 feet)

H C Piggot
H C Piggot
© Unknown

The H.C. Piggot (or H.C.Pigott) was a steam driven steel hopper built in 1912 by Fleming and Ferguson, Paisley Scotland.

Scuttled on 14 October 1935, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 48.8 metres (160 feet), beam 8.6 metres (28 feet) and draught 3.8 metres (12 feet) with a displacement weight of 449 tonne (495 short tons).

The hull is listing onto her port side. The superstructure is still recognizable and there is a large anchor sitting on the bow. The prop shafts are visible but there are no props.

Latitude: 38° 20.651′ S   (38.344183° S / 38° 20′ 39.06″ S)
Longitude: 144° 26.368′ E   (144.439467° E / 144° 26′ 22.08″ E)

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Hume

Steam Tug

Hume
Hume
© Unknown

The Hume steam tug was built in 1922 in Dordrecht, Holland and bought by the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1925.

Built in 1922 and scuttled in the 1950's, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 18 metres (59 feet), beam 4.7 metres (15 feet) and draught 2 metres (6.6 feet) with a displacement weight of 43 tonne (47 short tons).

Hygeia

Paddle Steamer | Max Depth: 62 metres (203 feet)

Hygeia
Hygeia
© Unknown

The Hygeia was a steel Paddle steamer built in 1890 by Napier, Shanks and Bell in Yoker (Glasgow). Her owners were the Bay Steamers Ltd, of Melbourne. A comfortable Port Phillip Bay steamer, she could carry 1600 passengers at speeds of up to 20 knots, with promenade decks, saloons, dining rooms, bars and a barber's shop.

Built in 1890 and scuttled on 10 June 1932, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 91.5 metres (300 feet), beam 9.8 metres (32 feet) and draught 3.4 metres (11 feet) with a displacement weight of 894 tonne (985 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.017′ S   (38.350275° S / 38° 21′ 0.99″ S)
Longitude: 144° 33.633′ E   (144.560548° E / 144° 33′ 37.97″ E)

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John Nimmo

Steam Dredge | Max Depth: 68 metres (223 feet)

John Nimmo
John Nimmo
© Unknown

The John Nimmo was a steel steam dredge built in 1887 for the Melbourne Harbour Trust. In 1893 she was involved in collision with vessel Eddystone in Corio Bay and in the same year and place she was involved in another collision with the vessel Melbourne.

Scuttled on 10 August 1931, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 69.6 metres (228 feet), beam 14.2 metres (47 feet) and draught 4.7 metres (15 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,097 tonne (1,209 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.787′ S   (38.363123° S / 38° 21′ 47.24″ S)
Longitude: 144° 33.355′ E   (144.555922° E / 144° 33′ 21.32″ E)

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Kingswear

Collier

The Kingswear in the earlier part of its career had been involved coastal trade in Queensland (not mentioned in Parsons, Australian Coastal Passenger Ships) and at some point arrived in Sydney.

The Kingswear was towed from Sydney to Melbourne by the tug Eagle in October 1906, where she was transformed into a floating pumping station. In this role the Kingswear was used in reclamation works at the West Melbourne Swamp, where silt from the old river bed was pumped into the swamp measuring 10 acres in extent. As the water pumped with the silt formed mini-lakes more solid material was required, and clay cut from the Coode Canal Banks was deposited in the river bed for pumping and filling. At the time this was described as "welcome news to bayside municipal councils and yachtsmen, who have for years been complaining that the silt deposited in the bay is eventually washed onto the foreshores" (Age 22/1/1907).

The Kingswear was described as having been in a "rotten state" with a prodigious amount of marine fouling on her hull when finally scuttled (Argus 15/4/1915).

Leeuwin (Julia Percy)

Passenger and Cargo Steamer | Max Depth: 62 metres (203 feet)

Leeuwin (Julia Percy)
Leeuwin (Julia Percy)
© Unknown

The Leeuwin was originally named the SS Julia Percy, and was built in Whiteinch, Scotland for the Victorian western district steamship trade to the order of the Warrnambool Steam Packet Company. Ronald Parsons states that, after being sold to Howard Smith in 1896:
"Howard Smith used the vessel in the Queensland coastal trades. Sold in 1903, the ship was transferred to Western Australia as her owner had obtained a local mail contract. In 1906 she was sold to Melbourne S.S. Co. and renamed Leeuwin, but continued in the Western Australian coastal run for some time until converted into a hulk in 1910, as a result of damage caused when she was driven against the jetty at Dongara during a gale." (Parsons, 1979: 82)

Dismantled and sunk in Bass Strait on 28 December 1934 (Argus 29 December 1934). Date of survey: 1925 (Melbourne).

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 66.7 metres (219 feet), beam 7.38 metres (24 feet) and draught 3.96 metres (13 feet) giving a displacement weight of 580 tonne (639 short tons).

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)

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Milora

Collier | Max Depth: 43 metres (141 feet)

Milora
Milora
© Unknown

The Milora was a Steel screw steamer built in Williamstown Dockyard, Victoria, in 1920 as the Emita for the Commonwealth Government Line of Melbourne. On 21 September 1934, she was inward bound from Newcastle with coal when she ran ashore inside Port Phillip Heads near Queenscliff. She was refloated after most of her cargo had been unloaded and towards Williamstown.

She was eventually sold for scrap and after dismantling was towed out to Bass Strait by the tug James Paterson and scuttled in the ships graveyard, off Port Philip heads, 8 March 1935. She now lies facing North/South (bow South).

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 100.89 metres (331 feet), beam 14.6 metres (48 feet) and draught 7.19 metres (24 feet) giving a displacement weight of 3,347 tonne (3,689 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.102′ S   (38.351705° S / 38° 21′ 6.14″ S)
Longitude: 144° 23.378′ E   (144.389632° E / 144° 23′ 22.68″ E)

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Pioneer

Sand Dredge | Max Depth: 50 metres (164 feet)

Pioneer
Pioneer
© Unknown

The SS Pioneer was a steel steam driven pump driven sand dredge. She was built in Glascow, Scotland for the Victorian Dept of Board of Works in 1905. She was scuttled on 9 March 1950.

There is limited penetration along the sides, stern and bow of the wreck and both props are both still present.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 51.8 metres (170 feet), beam 11.34 metres (37 feet) and draught 3.14 metres (10 feet) giving a displacement weight of 543 tonne (599 short tons).

See also Wikipedia: SS Pioneer (1905).

Latitude: 38° 20.381′ S   (38.339678° S / 38° 20′ 22.84″ S)
Longitude: 144° 26.373′ E   (144.439558° E / 144° 26′ 22.41″ E)

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Rotomahana

Passenger and Cargo Steamer | Max Depth: 39 metres (128 feet)

Rotomahana
Rotomahana
© Unknown

The SS Rotomahana was completed in 1879 in Dumbarton, Scotland. Said to be the first steel hulled steamer in the world, she had a clipper bow and graceful hull. She served for many years on the Melbourne to New Zealand routes and was known as the "Greyhound of the Pacific" due to her great speed. She was scuttled on 28 May 1928.

Little other than the four massive boilers remain, although there are plenty of steel girders and other debris including the old bowsprit. Some penetration is possible between and underneath the boilers.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 90.89 metres (298 feet), beam 10.73 metres (35 feet) and draught 7.22 metres (24 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,777 tonne (1,959 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 19.191′ S   (38.319857° S / 38° 19′ 11.49″ S)
Longitude: 144° 32.167′ E   (144.536123° E / 144° 32′ 10.04″ E)

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Sir William McPherson

Dredge | Max Depth: 57 metres (187 feet)

Sir William McPherson
Sir William McPherson
© Unknown

The Sir William McPherson was a steel dredge, built in 1912 at Kinderdijk, Holland for the Melbourne Harbour Trust. She was scuttled on 12 May 1949.

The ship has boilers at the stern which make for a nice swim through. The engine exhausts are still sitting vertical and there is a large anchor near the bow.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 48.31 metres (158 feet), beam 9.85 metres (32 feet) and draught 3.14 metres (10 feet) giving a displacement weight of 482 tonne (531 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 20.697′ S   (38.344957° S / 38° 20′ 41.85″ S)
Longitude: 144° 29.214′ E   (144.486898° E / 144° 29′ 12.83″ E)

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VHB-53

Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 57 metres (187 feet)

The VHB-53 was a Steel hopper barge that was scuttled on 19 February 1971. There is some penetration available.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 45.7 metres (150 feet) with a beam of 5.64 metres (19 feet).

Latitude: 38° 21.645′ S   (38.360743° S / 38° 21′ 38.67″ S)
Longitude: 144° 26.216′ E   (144.436935° E / 144° 26′ 12.97″ E)

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VHB-54

Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 54 metres (177 feet)

VHB-54
VHB-54
© Unknown

The VHB-54 was a Steel hopper barge that was scuttled on 17 December 1970. The bow and stern are in reasonable condition. There is a large cogged wheel in the midships area which was used to open the doors for the dredged material to be dumped.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 45.7 metres (150 feet) with a beam of 5.64 metres (19 feet).

Latitude: 38° 20.588′ S   (38.343138° S / 38° 20′ 35.3″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.057′ E   (144.417622° E / 144° 25′ 3.44″ E)

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Wareatea

Passenger and Cargo Steamer | Max Depth: 48 metres (157 feet)

Wareatea
Wareatea
© Unknown

The Wareatea was built in 1883 in Paisly, Scotland. It was first used as a collier in New Zealand, and later in the Bass Strait trade carrying passengers and freight. After decommissioning, the stripped down hulk was scuttled on 16 March 1945.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 51.88 metres (170 feet), beam 7.96 metres (26 feet) and draught 3.47 metres (11 feet) giving a displacement weight of 511 tonne (563 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.378′ S   (38.3563° S / 38° 21′ 22.68″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.310′ E   (144.421833° E / 144° 25′ 18.6″ E)

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Werfa

Cargo Carrier and Coal Hulk | Max Depth: 65 metres (213 feet)

Werfa
Werfa
© Unknown

The Werfa was an iron steamer built to carry coal. Built in Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK in 1883 for the Werfa Steam Ship Company Ltd of Cardiff, Wales. On 5 August 1925 the visiting American destroyer, USS MacDonough, sank her in Victoria Dock, as the American Fleet left Melbourne. She was raised and finally scuttled on the 20 March 1929.

There are many swim throughs on the wreck, the stern is quite distinct with iron rectangles. You can go down to the stern to investigate the rudder which is fully intact.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 65.8 metres (216 feet), beam 9.2 metres (30 feet) and draught 4.72 metres (15 feet) giving a displacement weight of 570 tonne (628 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.380′ S   (38.356327° S / 38° 21′ 22.78″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.039′ E   (144.567317° E / 144° 34′ 2.34″ E)

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White Pine

Passenger and Cargo Carrier then Coal Hulk | Max Depth: 57 metres (187 feet)

White Pine
White Pine
© Unknown

Originally built as the Quathlamba, in 1879 at Aberdeen, Scotland she was a three masted iron barque. She was registered at the Hazel Craig in 1905, operating between Australia and New Zealand. Purchased by the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1916, she was converted into a coal lighter and named the White Pine. Later she was converted into a coal hulk. The White Pine was scuttled on 14 January 1947 in the ship's graveyard.

The bow is mostly intact and there are some very prominent boilers.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 51.18 metres (168 feet), beam 8.87 metres (29 feet) and draught 4.15 metres (14 feet) giving a displacement weight of 467 tonne (515 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.979′ S   (38.366322° S / 38° 21′ 58.76″ S)
Longitude: 144° 25.047′ E   (144.417452° E / 144° 25′ 2.83″ E)

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Wills

Steam Driven Hopper Barge | Max Depth: 55 metres (180 feet)

Wills
Wills
© Unknown

Sister vessel to the Burke.

The Wills and Burke, were built in Adelaide in 1884. They were purchased by the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1889. The Wills was scuttled on 22 August 1935.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 39.0 metres (128 feet), beam 9.14 metres (30 feet) and draught 2.9 metres (9.5 feet) giving a displacement weight of 345 tonne (380 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 21.071′ S   (38.351183° S / 38° 21′ 4.26″ S)
Longitude: 144° 26.976′ E   (144.4496° E / 144° 26′ 58.56″ E)

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Other wrecks in Victoria's Ships' Graveyard include:

  • Malaita
  • Mosquito
  • Norwester
  • Palace
  • Rip
  • Rob Roy
  • Verulam
  • Victorian

The J Class Submarines

When they were built in 1917, the seven J class submarines were the fastest in the world with a surface speed of 19 knots and a submerged speed of 10 knots. The J6 was lost during WW1, and the remaining six submarines were gifted from the British government to the Royal Australian Navy in 1919.

In 1924 the J1, J2, J4 and J5 submarines were sold to a salvage company that stripped them of valuable materials and then scuttled them outside of The Heads in 1926.

The J3 was sunk at Swan Island for use as both a jetty, and a power source for the military base. The J7 was sunk as a breakwater at the Sandringham Yacht Club.

J1 Submarine

Diesel Electric Submarine | Max Depth: 38 metres (125 feet)

J1 Submarine
J1 Submarine
© Unknown

HMS J1, later HMAS J1, was a Royal Navy J class submarine built by HM Dockyard at Portsmouth in Hampshire and launched on 6 November 1915. The wartime complement was 5 officers and 40 men.

The six British built J class submarines were transferred to the Royal Australian Navy on 25 March 1919. They had served for a short time with the Royal Navy's 11th Submarine Flotilla, and although they proved to be the fastest submarines of their time, they were unreliable. So they ended up in Australia! The six submarines departed Portsmouth on 9 April 1919, arriving in Sydney on 10 July 1919 where they underwent a very necessary refit. By May 1922 all six submarines had been decommissioned.

J1 Submarine bow, Victoria, Australia
J1 Submarine bow, Victoria
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

The J1 submarine was the only submarine to have crippled capital ships with a single salvo. She was also fitted with depth charges and was the only submarine to ever sink another sub with depth charges.

J1 was sold to the Melbourne Salvage Company on 26th February 1924. After stripping anything that proved valuable, she was scuttled off Barwon Heads on 26th May 1926.

She was rediscovered in 1985 and now lies almost upright with a slight list to port in 38 metres (125 feet) with the conning tower rising to 34 metres (112 feet).


J1 Submarine Wreck from Alan Beckhurst on Vimeo.

The J1 Submarine is also known as the J1 Sub, 38 Metre Sub, 125 Foot Sub, or New Deep Sub. The hull lies northeast to southwest (bow northeast) and is covered in bright yellow zoanthids.

Built in 1915 and scuttled on 26 May 1926, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 83.7 metres (275 feet), beam 7.2 metres (24 feet) and draught 4.3 metres (14 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,092 tonne (1,204 short tons) surfaced.

See also Wikipedia: HMS J1.

Latitude: 38° 18.959′ S   (38.315988° S / 38° 18′ 57.56″ S)
Longitude: 144° 33.219′ E   (144.553648° E / 144° 33′ 13.13″ E)

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J2 Submarine

Diesel Electric Submarine | Max Depth: 39 metres (128 feet)

J2 Submarine
J2 Submarine
© Unknown

Completed Nov 1915 at Portsmouth Dock Yard as the HMS J2. At the completion of the first World War in 1919, the British Government gave Australia a gift of six J class submarines and six navy destroyers, thus HMAS J2. All of the submarines were eventually scuttled.

The J2 Submarine was scuttled by explosives on 1 June 1926 about three miles off Barwon Heads.

Known as the J2 Sub, 39 Metre Sub, 130 Foot Sub, Broken Sub or Deep Sub, the wreck lies on its keel running North-South with its bow pointing out to sea. During its scuttling the bow section broke off, exposing the forward torpedoes tubes and bow modifications.

The J2 Submarine is probably the most infrequently dived of the four J class submarines. It is the deepest, and it is also the closest to the Heads. It can therefore be uncomfortably close to the path taken by ships entering and leaving Port Phillip Bay. Boat operators must be aware of the shipping traffic during the dive period.

During the Broken Sub's scuttling, explosive charges caused the vessel to break in two sections. The break occurs about 5 metres behind the conning tower. The front half lists to starboard at a 45-degree angle. Over the years the stern has worn down through the reef the wreck sits on.

The wreck is in 39 metres (128 feet) and is surrounded by many schools of fish. These along with the extensive marine growth covering the hull make this an interesting dive for photographers as well as wreck enthusiasts.

Being such a deep dive, it is recommend that divers spend the last few minutes of their limited bottom time at a slightly shallower depth around the conning tower before beginning the final ascent. This area is usually inhabited by large numbers of fish, so there is plenty to look at before returning to the surface.

The Broken Sub is a marvelous venue for the experienced diver. Obviously more than one dive is required to fully explore it. With good visibility it is an outstanding dive.

Hazards and Precautions:

The 39 metres (128 feet) depth calls for experience and training, correct equipment and very careful planning. Begin your ascent with plenty of air remaining for the inevitable decompression stops. Even at this depth surge can be a problem, especially when penetrating inside the wreck.

If surge is present remain on the outside. If you just swim over the wreck from stern to bow most of the dive will be spent in 33 metres (108 feet).

J2 Submarine plaque, Victoria, Australia
J2 Submarine plaque, Victoria
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

Penetration into the wreck is possible, at the point where the ship has been broken, but the need for extreme caution cannot be overemphasised. At 36 metres (118 feet) near the conning tower is a plaque in memory of a diver that died while penetrating the wreck.

In addition to the normal dangers involved in penetration diving at this depth, the Broken Submarine has the additional hazard of extensive jagged and twisted metal around the break.

Once inside the wreck, it can become very dark, so good torches are essential. Silting can occur very easily. Care must be taken to avoid stirring up silt on the bottom, thus further reducing visibility.

Built in 1915 and scuttled on 1 June 1926, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 83.7 metres (275 feet), beam 7.2 metres (24 feet) and draught 4.3 metres (14 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,092 tonne (1,204 short tons) surfaced.

See also Wikipedia: HMS J2.

Latitude: 38° 18.814′ S   (38.31357° S / 38° 18′ 48.85″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.803′ E   (144.580048° E / 144° 34′ 48.17″ E)

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J3 Submarine

Diesel Electric Submarine | Max Depth: 8 metres (26 feet)

The HMS J3, later HMAS J3, submarine was scuttled off Swan Point to act as a breakwater and power source for the naval base. It settled almost on top of the wreck of the 961 ton coal hulk S.F. Hersey.

The J3 submarine lies in 5 to 8 metres with parts of the hull above surface.

Built in 1915/1916 and scuttled in January 1926, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 83.7 metres (275 feet), beam 7.2 metres (24 feet) and draught 4.7 metres (15 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,092 tonne (1,204 short tons) surfaced.

See also Wikipedia: HMS J3.

Latitude: 38° 14.640′ S   (38.244° S / 38° 14′ 38.4″ S)
Longitude: 144° 42.120′ E   (144.702° E / 144° 42′ 7.2″ E)

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J4 Submarine

Diesel Electric Submarine | Max Depth: 27 metres (89 feet)

J4 Submarine
J4 Submarine
© Unknown

Originally HMS J1, later HMAS J1, this is one of the J class submarines designed and built during WW1 by the British Royal Navy. At the completion of the first World War in 1919, the British Government gave Australia a gift of six J class submarines and six navy destroyers. All of the J class submarines were eventually scuttled.

The J4 submarine was scuttled by explosives on 28 April 1927.

Known as the 26 metre, 27 metre and 90 foot sub, the J4 Sub wreck lies on its keel running North-South with its bow pointing out to sea. During its scuttling the bow section broke off, exposing the forward torpedoes tubes and bow modifications.

J4 Submarine conning tower, Victoria, Australia
J4 Submarine conning tower
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

The conning tower is intact and in excellent condition.

Divers can penetrate the submarine through the numerous hatch openings. Such penetration should not be taken lightly, as being shallower than the other subs, this wreck is particularly susceptible to surge. Unwary divers can be literally sucked in and catapulted through the wreck's interior. However, the surge prevents any silting, and under suitable conditions this makes for one of Melbourne's top dives.

Once inside, divers can see the bulkheads, which supported the submarine against pressure at great depths. Although the engine has been removed, the engine bed can still be seen at the stern.

The broken bow section of the submarine contains four torpedo tubes, which can be easily seen by using a torch and positioning yourself between the bow and the main body.

A bronze plaque has been placed at the site by the Bottom Scratches Dive Club who rediscovered the submarine in 1982.

As with the other Subs, the J4 sub is host to a variety of plant and animal life. Good conditions for photography are often found near the conning tower, which is usually surrounded by many fish.

Built in 1915/1916 and scuttled on 28 April 1927, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 83.7 metres (275 feet), beam 7.2 metres (24 feet) and draught 4.3 metres (14 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,092 tonne (1,204 short tons) surfaced.

For more information see the J4 Submarine page on the Heritage Victoria web site, or download/view the J4 Submarine Dive Information Sheet (Adobe PDF | 564.76 KB). See also Wikipedia: HMS J4.


J4 Submarine Wreck from Alan Beckhurst on Vimeo.

Latitude: 38° 17.979′ S   (38.299657° S / 38° 17′ 58.77″ S)
Longitude: 144° 33.820′ E   (144.563673° E / 144° 33′ 49.22″ E)

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J5 Submarine

Diesel Electric Submarine | Max Depth: 36 metres (118 feet)

J5 Submarine
J5 Submarine
© Unknown

Originally HMS J1, later HMAS J1, this is one of the J class submarines designed and built during WW1 by the British Royal Navy.

Built in 1915/1916 and scuttled on 1 June 1926, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 83.7 metres (275 feet), beam 7.2 metres (24 feet) and draught 4.7 metres (15 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,092 tonne (1,204 short tons) surfaced.

See also Wikipedia: HMS J5.

Latitude: 38° 18.649′ S   (38.310822° S / 38° 18′ 38.96″ S)
Longitude: 144° 34.118′ E   (144.568632° E / 144° 34′ 7.08″ E)

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Port Phillip Heads Shipwrecks

Victoria's Port Phillip Heads have been extremeley hazardous for ships, from the first recorded wreck in 1840 unitl the present. The treacherous currents, hidden reefs and narow channels of Port Phillip Heads have contributed to the demise of over 200 vessels of all types, ranging from small coastal schooners to large iron steamers. The wrecks of Point Lonsdale, Point Nepean and the Back Beaches, are frequented regularly by Melbourne divers by boat and from the shore.

Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads
Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads
© Stan Bugg & Bob Wealthy

The best reference book on diving the Port Phillip Heads wrecks is:
"Shipwrecks Around Port Phillip Heads"
Authors: Stan Bugg and Bob Wealthy
Published: 1995 by Oceans Enterprises
ISBN: 9780958665773

This book is a comprehensive scuba diver's guide to locating the wreck sites, and a description of what remains will be found.

For the non-diver, the accounts of each ship's history, and the circumstances of her sinking, are a fascinating insight into our turbulent maritime history.

Australia RMS

Steam Ship | Max Depth: 8 metres (26 feet)

Australia RMS
Australia RMS
© Unknown

The P&O liner Australia was one of the most luxurious vessels afloat when launched in 1892. On the 20 July 1904 while entering Port Phillip Heads she went aground on Corsair Rock. In 1911, the remains of the Australia were blasted to clear a channel between Corsair Rock and Big Rock.

The remains of the ship are scattered and badly brocken up. Her huge propeller shaft and overgrown engines remain, and her boilers are easily identifiable.

Built in 1892 in Greenock, UK, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 141.91 metres (466 feet) with a beam 15.91 metres (52 feet).

Latitude: 38° 18.072′ S   (38.3012° S / 38° 18′ 4.32″ S)
Longitude: 144° 38.582′ E   (144.643033° E / 144° 38′ 34.92″ E)

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Black Boy

Iron Screw Steamer Tug | Max Depth: 10 metres (33 feet)

The history of the Black Boy is linked with that of the George Roper. The steam screw tug was assisting in the salvage of cargo from the George Roper on 8 July 1883 when several big swells slammed the tug onto the George Roper. The skipper tried to move away but a line fouled the Black Boy's propeller. She was swept onto a nearby reef, broke up and sank.

The Black Boy lies east of the George Roper, just off the southern tip of Mushroom Rock. The hull is overturned and the remains of machinery and fittings can be seen.

The site of the Black Boy is more exposed to the Rip's tidal currents than the George Roper and Holyhead. Best dived on slack water ebb or ebb tide.

Built in 1857 in Greenock, UK, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 24.84 metres (81 feet) and beam 4.57 metres (15 feet) giving a displacement weight of 45 tonne (50 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 17.735′ S   (38.295583° S / 38° 17′ 44.1″ S)
Longitude: 144° 36.978′ E   (144.6163° E / 144° 36′ 58.68″ E)

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Cheviot

Passenger Screw Steamer | Max Depth: 7 metres (23 feet)

Cheviot
Cheviot
© Unknown

The screw steamer SS Cheviot, was a typical coastal trading passenger and cargo steamship. On her way to Sydney on 19 October 1887, she had barely cleared Port Phillip Heads when her propeller blades were sheared off against the rocks which left her floundering. The efforts of the captain and crew to regain control failed in the heavy seas.

The Cheviot was washed onto rocks in what is now known as Cheviot Bay. She broke up rapidly in the rough seas, and only 24 out of her 69 passengers and crew were saved. (In 1967, Cheviot Bay became famous as the site of the disappearance of the serving Prime Minister Harold Holt.)

The wreck site is highly prone to surge and turbulance. The wreckage is widely scattered as a result of the terrible beating it gets from the weather, plus from blasting operations undertaked in the 1960s by divers obtaining scrap metal.

Built by Charles Mitchell and Co., of Low Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1870, she was wrecked in 1887 in rough seas near Point Nepean in Victoria, Australia, after the propeller was disabled. The overall length of the vessel was approximately 70.15 metres (230 feet) and beam 9.8 metres (32 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,226 tonne (1,351 short tons).

See also Wikipedia: SS Cheviot.

Latitude: 38° 18.840′ S   (38.314° S / 38° 18′ 50.4″ S)
Longitude: 144° 39.850′ E   (144.664167° E / 144° 39′ 51″ E)

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Eliza Ramsden

Three Masted Iron Barque | Max Depth: 22 metres (72 feet)

Eliza Ramsden
Eliza Ramsden
© Unknown

The Eliza Ramsden was regarded as the finest vessel of the Port of Melbourne in 1875, built to order by S. Ramsden in Glasgow, Scotland and named after his wife. The vessel was badly damaged in 1875 when it ran aground and was trapped on Corsair Rock on its voyage from Melbourne to Newcastle. The owner's son was the only passenger aboard with the 13 crew. The ship was evacuated by a lifeboat sent by the steam tug Warhawk when it was assessed that it would go down once the tide rose. Most personal effects were left on board. When the tide rose, the vessel floated off Corsair Rock and eventually sunk near the South Channel.

For many years her masts remained above sea level and so she wasn't a real danger until her masts finally collapsed in the 1960's and posed a danger to vessels using the channel. Her masts were then demolished with explosives.

The Eliza Ramsden now lies upright and quite badly broken up, however the donkey boiler is still visible. She sits on the seabed facing east west with her bow to the west. This site should be dived only at slack water and a shipping check must be conducted first.

The overall length of the vessel was approximately 46.21 metres (152 feet) and beam 8.23 metres (27 feet) giving a displacement weight of 415 tonne (457 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 17.630′ S   (38.293833° S / 38° 17′ 37.8″ S)
Longitude: 144° 40.435′ E   (144.673917° E / 144° 40′ 26.1″ E)

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Gambier

Passenger Steamship | Max Depth: 14 metres (46 feet)

Originally the Ocean, the vessel was renamed the Gambier in 1888. Had an expensive re-fit 1885 for work as passenger ship.

On 28 August 1891 the Gambier had entered the heads and was in the West Channel. When signals were misunderstood, the Gambier was run down by the Easby. Up to 21 lives were lost, particularly as one life boat capsized during launch.

Explosives were later used to flatten the wreck so the site is frequently covered in sand.

Built Dunbarton, Scotland in 1874, sunk on 28 August 1891, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 85.34 metres (280 feet), beam 9.72 metres (32 feet) and draught 7.01 metres (23 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,029 tonne (1,134 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 16.450′ S   (38.274167° S / 38° 16′ 27″ S)
Longitude: 144° 40.500′ E   (144.675° E / 144° 40′ 30″ E)

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Goorangai

Steam Driven Minesweeper | Max Depth: 15 metres (49 feet)

Goorangai
Goorangai
© Unknown

The steam trawler MV Goorangai was built in 1919 to assist the development of a trawl fishing industry to create jobs in NSW in depression years. She was requisitioned for naval service by the RAN in WWII, and commissioned as the HMAS Goorangai for service as an auxiliary minesweeper.

Following the sinking of the SS Cambridge and MV City of Rayville in Bass Strait by German mines on 7 and 8 November 1940 respectively, three minesweepers including the HMAS Goorangai were ordered to the sweep the shipping lanes and approaches to Port Phillip, and within a fortnight were able to locate and destroy forty mines.

While crossing from Queenscliff to Portsea without lights, the Gorrangai was run down by the outward bound troopship MV Duntroon. The Goorangai was cut in two and sank in less than a minute with the loss of the entire crew of 24. Just six bodies were recovered. The minesweeper HMAS Goorangai has the tragic distinction of being all at once Australia's first naval loss of World War II, the first Royal Australian Navy surface vessel lost in a war, and the first Royal Australian Navy surface vessel lost with all hands. The Goorangai is a designated war grave and should be treated with respect.

Built as a 'Castle' type steam trawler based on a North Sea design in Newcastle, NSW, sunk on 20 November 1940, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 35.66 metres (117 feet), beam 6.74 metres (22 feet) and draught 4.17 metres (14 feet) giving a displacement weight of 223 tonne (246 short tons).

Because the HMAS Goorangai wreck lies in the main shipping channel and was considered a hazard to navigation, she was demolished with explosives in January 1941. The remains of the wreck are very scattered.

See also Wikipedia: HMAS Goorangai.

Latitude: 38° 17.404′ S   (38.290067° S / 38° 17′ 24.24″ S)
Longitude: 144° 40.992′ E   (144.6832° E / 144° 40′ 59.52″ E)

Google Map

Hurricane

Three Masted Iron Clipper | Max Depth: 12 metres (39 feet)

Hurricane
Hurricane
© Unknown

The Hurricane was built for the Australian run until lost. On first return voyage, carried gold exports from Melbourne to London. The ship took on water, possibly through the hawse holes during the last part of its voyage, and was heavily laden with cargo. It scraped the ground twice near Point Lonsdale, but no notice was taken. Shortly after it was noticed that the ship was dropping by the head. 6 feet of water was found in the forehold. The sail was shortened and starboard anchor let go. The boats were lowered and crew and passengers put into them. She sank off Arthur's Sseat in Capel Sound on the 22 April 1869.

The Hurricane wreck was relatively intact until the late 1960s when Ports and Harbours engineers considered it to be a navigational hazard blasted it. The wreckage is spread over a large area, with the most prominent feature now the stern, which rises about 3 metres out of the sand.

Built in 1853 in Glasgow, Scotland and sunk on 22 April 1869, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 65.53 metres (215 feet) and beam 9.45 metres (31 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,108 tonne (1,221 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 20.463′ S   (38.34105° S / 38° 20′ 27.78″ S)
Longitude: 144° 52.308′ E   (144.8718° E / 144° 52′ 18.48″ E)

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Lady Cheryl

Fishing Vessel | Max Depth: 14 metres (46 feet)

Lady Cheryl
Lady Cheryl
© Mike Smith

On the evening of 23 March 2012, the commercial fishing vessel FV Lady Cheryl departed Williamstown for a 10 day deep sea fishing voyage. It was intended that the vessel transit Port Phillip Bay, depart through Port Phillip Heads and then set a course for the fishing grounds to the west of Tasmania. However, in the early hours of the following morning when abeam Shortland Bluff (Queenscliff) and still within Port Phillip Bay, the Lady Cheryl altered course towards Point Nepean. The master did not notice the error and Lady Cheryl ran aground on the outlying reef at Point Nepean. The vessel was holed below its waterline and sank a short time later.

There is a huge gash along the starboard side giving access to the internals of the wreck.

Sunk on 23 March 2012, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 8.35 metres (27 feet) with a beam of 2.41 metres (7.9 feet).

Latitude: 38° 17.936′ S   (38.298933° S / 38° 17′ 56.16″ S)
Longitude: 144° 39.235′ E   (144.653917° E / 144° 39′ 14.1″ E)

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William Salthouse

Three Masted Brig | Max Depth: 12 metres (39 feet)

William Salthouse
William Salthouse
© Unknown

The William Salthouse is one of Victoria's oldest and most important wrecks. It was the first merchant vessel to sail between Canada and Port Phillip, just five years after settlement at Port Phillip established, and was flouting British Navigation Laws when it did so. It is archaeologically significant for its evidence of ship construction, cargo stowage and cargo types. It is educationally and recreationally significant as the wreck of an intact wooden merchant ship with its early cargo intact.

After a five month voyage from Canada, The William Salthouse was wrecked on Eastern Sands. Part of her cargo of beef, fish, salted pork, and building materials was removed to lighten the vessel. After attempting to sail up West Channel, she foundered 600 metres north east of Popes Eye on 27 November 1841.

Divers discovered the wreck in 1982. She appears as a raised sand hill about 3 metres high. While the superstructure and upper hull have collapsed, the lower portion of the hull, along with much of the assorted cargo, lies preserved in the sand. Artificial sea grass mats have been laid around the dune to stabilise the site. This is a very fragile wreck site, and divers are urged to treat it gently. Extreme care must be taken not to disturb any part of the wreck.

Built in 1824 in Liverpool, England, sunk on 27 November 1841, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 27.5 metres (90 feet), with a displacement weight of 251 tonne (277 short tons).

The site of the William Salthouse is a historic shipwreck protected zone with a 250 metre radius. A permit from Heritage Victoria is required to dive the William Salthouse.

For more information see the William Salthouse shipwreck page on the Heritage Victoria web site, or download/view the William Salthouse Dive Information Sheet (Adobe PDF | 598.18 KB). See also Wikipedia: William Salthouse (ship).

Latitude: 38° 16.377′ S   (38.272943° S / 38° 16′ 22.59″ S)
Longitude: 144° 42.330′ E   (144.705493° E / 144° 42′ 19.77″ E)

Google Map

Other shipwrecks around Port Phillip Heads include:

  • Clarence
    Historic shipwreck protected zone. Permit Required.
  • Conside
  • Craigburn
  • Empress of the Sea
  • Gange
  • George Roper
  • Holyhead
  • Isabella Watson
  • Joanna
    Historic shipwreck protected zone. Permit Required.
  • Light of the Age
  • Mountain Maid
  • Petriana
  • Portsea Hole Wreck
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Time
  • Wauchope
  • Will O' The Wisp
    Historic shipwreck protected zone. Permit Required.

Port Phillip Wrecks

Of course there are other wreck dive sites in Port Phillip other than those near the heads.

Isis

Motor Vessel | Max Depth: 10 metres (33 feet)

The Isis was a timber, auxiliary, two-masted yacht. Torn by fierce seas from moorings off Frankston. Equipped with auxiliary sails. Driven stern first on to a reef about 1/4 mile from shore, battered to pieces. Masts torn loose, flotsam carried ashore. The three men were sleeping when storm struck, anchor failed to grip. Engine would not start and when it did impossible to raise anchor. The three managed to escape in dinghy but in high seas an oar was lost. Captain Thomson managed to get boat ashore with great difficulty.

Built in 1892 in North Sydney, NSW, sunk on 10 March 1932, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 26.03 metres (85 feet), beam 4.15 metres (14 feet) and draught 2.86 metres (9.4 feet) giving a displacement weight of 71 tonne (78 short tons).

Latitude: 38° 8.083′ S   (38.134717° S / 38° 8′ 4.98″ S)
Longitude: 145° 5.828′ E   (145.097133° E / 145° 5′ 49.68″ E)

Google Map

Uralba

Wooden Coal Burner | Max Depth: 20 metres (66 feet)

Uralba
Uralba
© Unknown

The HMAS Uralba was a wooden hulled single screw steamer, the last vessel built for the North Coast Steam Navigation Co., and fitted with second-hand machinery. It was also the last wooden coal burner built in Australia. Scuttled, with an old pleasure boat (condemned by Marine Board), by the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands as part of their artificial reef program. This program resulted in a number of reefs being established in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, including the George Kermode off Phillip Island.

The HMAS Uralba had been a wartime boom defence vessel, and served in Milne Bay, New Guinea. Purchased by State Electricity Commission of Victoria in 1946, running concrete cargoes between Tasmania and the mainland. Two ownership changes followed. Then Benny Gelbart of Footscray bought the vessel for conversion to a Northern Territory cattle boat but it sank when moored in Yarra — caulking had deteriorated. It was salvaged, re-caulked, and towed to a mooring adjacent to the Charles Grimes Bridge. Eleven of its natural knees were used in the reconstruction of the Golden Plover, now in Queensland. The Uralba remained there until, filled with ballast, it was towed by the Ports and Harbors tug Fury to reef-site and blown with 20 sticks of gelignite by 'Buck' Taylor — debris went everywhere.

the Uralba lies on a silty bottom and rises 5 metres from the seabed. The main deck, bridge deck superstructure and all machinery were removed before scuttling. The bare hull sits upright, with the only penetrable part being the forward accommodation area. Lying next to the Uralba on the starboard side about midships is a small 20ft steel vessel, sunk at the same time.

Built in 1942 in Tuncurry, NSW, sunk on 5 November 1971, the overall length of the vessel was approximately 47.093 metres (155 feet), beam 11.28 metres (37 feet) and draught 2.74 metres (9 feet) giving a displacement weight of 603 tonne (665 short tons)..

See also Wikipedia: HMAS Uralba.

Latitude: 38° 4.731′ S   (38.07885° S / 38° 4′ 43.86″ S)
Longitude: 145° 2.285′ E   (145.038083° E / 145° 2′ 17.1″ E)

Google Map

Some of the other wrecks in Port Phillip include:


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.

If you don't understand the differences between the different ways coordinates are given, plus how different datum come into play, you might find the article GPS Conversions by Lloyd Borrett (100 Kb, 5 pages, Adobe PDF) a useful read. It describes the problems associated with locating dive sites using a GPS receiver.

GPS latitude explained


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