WRECK DIVING IN VICTORIA
Warships your passion? Sunken warships are not that unique because most are spontaneously placed by an act of war or weather. But in most cases warships are sunk too deep for any diver to visit. That’s not the case in Victoria, Australia. We already have warships and submarines, plus numerous other wrecks which were deliberately scuttled in depth accessible to both recreational and technical scuba divers.
So, as magnificent as we expect diving the 138 metres (453 feet) long, 14.3 metres (47 feet) beam, 4,100 tonne (4,519 short tons) displacement ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 will eventually be, once the ship has been prepared and scuttled, there are plenty of other reasons to come and dive in the temperate waters of Victoria, Australia.
Artificial reefs your passion? There are numerous other wrecks, some dating back to the 1800’s. Plus we have the ships graveyard, just off Port Phillip Bay, in Bass Strait. These wreck dive sites are all teeming with marine life.
Depth: 21 metres
TheEliza Ramsden was a three masted iron barque built in Clyde, Scotlandin 1874. She was around 45 metres in length, 8 metres wide and drew 4metres. During the night of July 1875, she struck Corsair Rock whileleaving the Heads for Newcastle. In an attempt to return to Melbourne,she sank in the South Channel where she sits upright on her keel. Overthe years the Ramsden has been blasted to minimize the hazard shecreated to shipping, but despite all this, she still presents anexcellent dive. Her bow, in particular, coming up from 21to 14 metresis the most popular section providing photographers with a wide arrayof marine life.
Depth: 16 metres
In1940, while returning to Portsea from Queenscliff, the minesweeperGoorangai was cut in two by the Duntroon. All 24 lives were lost andthe Goorangai is now a war grave. Only seven bodies were everrecovered. Permits are required to dive on the Goorangai which areprovided by the Charter. A great way to finish a days diving.
Depth: 34 metres
TheCoogee was a bay steamer used in Port Phillip Bay until it was strippedand scuttled in 1927 just outside the Port Phillip Heads. The wreck nowlies in 34metres of water and is abundant with marine life and stillquite intact. The Coogee is a fantastic photographic dive.
Depth: 40 metres
TheSS Courier was a 728 tonne steel bay steamer originally designed as anaval dispatch vessel. She was a fast steamer and was regarded as thequickest of her day. She was scuttled in 1928 and found her waterygrave at 40 metres below. She lies on her keel, although she has threemajor sections. Her bow faces north and her stern to the south. Thestern section has a small penetration area (only if the conditions areright).
In this section there are some original tiles from the 1stClass smoking area on the floor that can be easily seen with a torch.The boilers are a large part of the wreck today, and are worth swimmingaround. Because of the depth, only a short bottom time is permitted soplan your dives to ensure you see everything over a few dives (youwon’t see it all in one dive). An excellent dive, you won’t regret it.Twin independent or manifold cylinders are highly recommended.
Depth: 12 metres
TheSS Gambier was sunk in 1891 near Pope’s Eye in the West Channel aftercolliding with the SS Easby. Because of the threat to shipping, theowners of the SS Gambier were ordered to remove her from the WestChannel. This was done with explosives. Subsequently, this dive siteoffers scattered wreckage over a sandy bottom. After you’ve divedeverything else in the Bay try this one, you’ll love the change.
Depth: 45 metres
TheSS Milora was a 3347 tonne coal transport ship, which was built in1893. She was on route from Newcastle to Melbourne when she ran ashorenear Queenscliff. Due to the expense of the repairs that were needed,she was sold off as scrap and scuttled in 1935. She is the deepest ofall the wrecks in the Ships Graveyard outside Port Phillip Heads. TheSS Milora lies north/west – south/east, with her bow facing north/west.Her hull is still solid, so this dive is only for those who areexperienced with Melbourne diving. The conditions can change regularlywith little warning. This dive should be conducted with independent ormanifold twin cylinders.
Depth: 38 metres
TheSS Rotomahana was a 1777 tonne clipper-bow steamer built in 1879. Shewas generally a passenger steamer and small cargo transport between NewZealand and Melbourne. She travelled this route for five years and wasthen transferred to the Launceston-Melbourne route. She was scuttled in1925, and over the years in her watery grave, she has broken down quiteconsiderably leaving only her boilers standing between the rubble. Twinindependent or manifold cylinders are highly recommended.
Depth: 12 metres
TheHurricane was built in Clyde Scotland in 1853. She was an iron shipmeasuring 70 metres in length and weighing 1198 tones. She sank in1869, after hitting Corsair Rock while passing through Port PhilipHeads. She continued up the South Channel, while taking in water, andcame to rest off the coast of Rosebud. Although there is not much ofthe Hurricane left, her remains have provided an artificial reef for anabundance of fish life. Dive the Hurricane on an Ebbing tide and makesure you take your catch bag – this is one of the largest scallop areasin the bay. You’re guaranteed a good feed.
Depth: 12 metres
This251 barque (originally a brig) was built in 1824 and was 28 metres inlength, 8 metres wide and had a draft of 5 metres. On the maiden voyageto Melbourne from Canada in 1841, the William Salthouse came to griefat the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. After striking a reef, it sunk inthe West Channel in about 12 meters of water. Carrying cargo at thetime, the Salthouse makes for an interesting dive. Special permits arerequired which are supplied by the boat charter. Care must be takenbecause this is the oldest wreck in Port Phillip Bay.