S.S. Yongala http://www.yongaladive.com.au/2010/10/11/home/
The SS Yongala has consistently been voted in the top ten dives around Australia, and for very good reason. The Yongala is located 12 nautical miles away from the shores of Alva Beach in Queensland, off the Great Barrier Reef. It’s an easy 30 minute boat ride out to the Yongala which sank with all her passengers in 1911.
She remained in peace and undiscovered for almost 50 years until 1958. The Yongala, at 108 meters long is the largest and most intact historic shipwreck in the waters of Australia. Being so incredibly well preserved, this shipwreck is an underwater museum surrounded by thousands of species of sea life, including turtles, rays, snakes, and fish of all kinds.
Exactly what happened to The Yongala on the fateful day of March 23, 1911, when the Yongala sank is still a mystery, however, research has show that the lack of lifeboats at the scene indicates that the wreck was sudden and tragic. There were no survivors to tell the tale.
The Batavia is one of the best known shipwreck dives in Australia. The wreck is well-situated in only four to six meters of clear water, which makes it an excellent dive choice for beginning divers, as well as advanced.
The ship also boasts a deliciously murderous history that makes it a fascinating object of exploration. Ariaen Jacobsz, who was serving as Skipper and a bankrupt pharmacist, Jeronimus Cornelisz who was fleeing from his financial woes in Haarlem, the Netherlands, met onboard. The Batavia sailed from the port of Texal, The Netherlands, and the two devised a plan to take over the ship and start a new life with the ships cargo of gold and silver.
The two gathered some men around them and planned a mutiny. After leaving Cape Town where they picked up supplies, Jacobz deliberately steered the ship off course and away from the rest of the fleet. The Batavia was wrecked on Morning Reef in the Abrolhos Islands in 1629, leaving only 125 who were left under the charge of Cornelisz, former pharmacist and current mutiny co-conspirator, after the captain and Jacobsz went to find help.
Left alone and in charge, Cornelisz made plans of his own. Fearing that the captain, Francisco Pelsaert, would report his impending involvement in the onboard mutiny, he gathered a group of men and dropped them off to search for water on nearby Wallabi island, then abandoned them to die there.
Cornelisz then recruited a group of murderous young men to help him in reducing the survivor population and rid himself of anyone who may stand in the way of his plan to hijack any rescue ship that may come by, and run with the Batavia’s riches.
In the end, Cornelisz’s gang murdered 110 men, women, and even children.
Now, the wreck, accessible by any level diver, is home to many beautiful species of sea life and coral.
The SS Orizaba is one of Australia’s most requested wreck dives. The ship was a mail steamer that sunk in 1905, and lies in 15 meters of water. The Orizaba is over 148 meters long, which makes it one of the largest accessible shipwrecks in Australia.
What makes it so special is the amount of the ship that remains intact. Parts of the old ship can still very clearly be seen and identified, such as the boilers, deck plates, steering gear and a bow. This is rare for such a large and old ship.
The Gundrun lies in Shark Bay among what is now a protected marine sanctuary, which accounts for the spectacular sea life which surrounds it. This Australian shipwreck is one of the largest wooden wrecks off the coast of Australia.
She sank in 1901 at the deliberate hands of the ship’s 22-year-old carpenter. For unknown reasons, he drilled a huge hole right through the hull. The ship made it safely to Fremantle for repairs, and departed again with the carpenter in chains. When she began to leak again, Captain Griff beached the ship at Cape Peron, hoping to refloat her after further repair. However, the ship quickly began breaking up and was eventually abandoned to her fate.
The Gundron now lies in clear water, 6 meters under, and is home to turtles, rays, giant groper, spotted cod, and many other fascinating species of underwater life.
The HMAS Swan is located by Dunsborough and is one of the largest accessible dive wrecks in the Southern hemisphere. While the history behind the wreck is recent and is not really shrouded in mystery or dark purpose, The HMAS Swan is one of the most popular shipwreck dives in Australia.
The reason for this is simple. The sea life surrounding the Swan is some of the best and most fascinating around. You can easily spot bullseye fish in many of the ship’s rooms, and King George whiting, as well as brim swim around the hull. You can also spot Samson fish, blue devil and sweep all around the wreck.
The Swan is a 113-meter-long decommissioned naval destroyer that was sunk in Geographe Bay in 1997. It is extremely easy to get to, as this is such a popular dive and not very far off shore.
If you have some time to spend in Australia, diving one or many of its spectacular shipwrecks is a great way to spend it. Whether you’re a history buff or a lover of beautiful sea life, Australia brings it.