The S.S. Yongala sank in a cyclone on the 23rd March 1911 and remained undiscovered for almost 50 years, not being positively identified until 1958. The wreck now lies on its starboard side in 14-28 metres of water and at 109m long is the largest and most intact, historic shipwreck in Australian waters.
She sank just 12 nautical miles off the coast of Cape Bowling Green in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with the loss of all 122 passengers. Exactly what happened we will never know – although research indicates the vessel was steaming, the fact no life rafts were found indicate the loss of the Yongala was sudden and tragic.
It has now become known as one of the world’s top wreck dives and certainly one of Australia’s best dive sites due to the prolific variety of marine life. Giant Queensland gropers hang beneath the stern while schools of trevally and cobia congregate around the depths of the wreck. Queenfish, barracuda, turtles, sea snakes, eagle rays and clown fish are just some of the other incredible life inhabiting the coral encrusted structure.
The Great Barrier Reef is the most bio-diverse ecosystem on the planet including over 1500 species of fish and 350 different types of coral. The Yongala wreck has now become an artificial reef with more varieties of coral growing on it than most natural reef systems. It is also host to a huge diversity of pelagic and reef species found in the Coral Sea. You will see more fish in one dive on the wreck than ten on the reef. It’s certainly a dive experience you will never forget.
The fish are so plentiful that you are never sure where to look at. The many turtles are used to divers and really enjoy a scratch on their head. “I need to go back to my turtle friend” Tara said after the dive with this very friendly turtle.
If you are interested in diving the SS Yongala come on our MSDT course after your IDC.