S.S. Yongala

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Australia

11 years ago Micha tried to dive the SS Yongala already but because of the weather conditions it was not possible. So we hoped to have some more luck this time. When we arrived on Tuesday to check for our booked dives the next day, the divers just came back.

So we checked with them but half of them didn’t dive because of sea sickness. Instead of going out from Townsville, where you have a 3 hours boat ride, we decided on the very adventurous variety going out with a small rubber boat in 30 minutes – starting from Air.

The disadvantage about such a small boat are the conditions of the water. So make sure you don’t get seasick easily. Unfortunately they cancelled our trip the next day so we tried for Thursday. When we got the information that the trip is on we were so excited.

After assembling our equipment and a proper dive briefing we hopped in the jeep with 9 other divers, 2 instructors and 1 Divemaster-Trainee and followed the tractor with the rubber boat attached. A little trip on the beach and we jumped in the rubber boat to launch it. We got soaked by a nice wave but better than the two instructors who had to swim to the boat after the launch.

The ride was interesting and some people had to force down their breakfast again. One of the instructors was feeding the fishes during the surface intervals. So we got ready and had two fantastic dives.

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.

I only use my tank banger for special stuff. What was this dark spot out in the blue, away from the wreck? So I followed towards it and it was a spotted eagle ray. A shade in the sand appeared, 20m away from the wreck, let’s check this out. AHAHAH it’s a leopard shark.

The wreck was full with fish – so many baby napoleon wrasses, a big tawny nurse shark, plenty of sea snakes, turtles, a massive nudibranch (ca. 30cm), giant moray, giant trevallies, over 100 pickhandle barracudas and before we did the safety stop a cowtail ray just came up towards me. The current brought them all in. WOW!

First we joined the group but since we had more air left than all the others, the instructor send us off on our own. We just didn’t want to get out of the water. So we were the first in and last out. It was just great and the shop “Yongala Dive” is very professional. Let’s do it again!!!