On Friday 21st, Jérémy booked a half-day tour to dive on the ‘SS Yongala’ shipwreck.
The dive was organized by the ‘Yongala Dive’ club which is located in Alva Beach. There is not much to do in Alva Beach, either you dive with this club or you spend a few nights at Alva Beach Caravan Park (if you are into being bored).
Back to the ‘Yongala’: this ship sank because of a cyclone on March 24th, 1911 while it was on its way from Melbourne to Cairns.
On March 14th, 1911, the ‘Yongala’ left Melbourne with 72 passengers and went out for its 99th ‘voyage’. It stopped in Brisbane, most of the passengers disembarked and new ones embarked to go to Cairns.
The boat arrived on March 23rd, 1911 in the morning in Mackay where all passengers disembarked. After the transfer of cargo, the ‘Yongala’ sailed north for Townsville at 1:40 pm, carrying 49 passengers and 73 crew members. 5 hours later, the lighthouse keeper of the Dent Island Light saw ‘Yongala sail into the Whitsunday Passage’; the last known sighting of the ship.
Shortly before the vessel left sight of land at Mackay, a telegram was received by the Flat Top signal station warning of a tropical cyclone between Townsville and Mackay. Flag and wireless signals from the station prompted several ships to take refuge at Mackay, but Yongala did not see the flags, and was yet to be fitted with wireless equipment.
The ‘SS Yongala’ sank during the cyclone on March 24th, 1911. All of her 122 passengers and crew died in the tragedy.
The shipwreck was only discovered in 1958, ever since it has been a wonderful dive site where coral covered the vessel and fauna is everywhere.
The shipwreck is located 22 km east of Cape Bowling Green (Alva Beach) and is at 30 meters depth. The ship is 110 meters long and can be seen between 16 and 30 meters depth. It is one of the biggest wreck and one of the best maintained.
Jérémy did two dives in the morning on the shipwreck. The second one was the nicest because sea had calm down. There was a lot of current and visibility was very bad. Therefore, it was a little bit disappointing because the shipwreck could not be entirely visited. A picture of the ‘Yongala’ name would have been nice but we did not dive to this part of the ship. Moreover, it was impossible to enter the shipwreck, which is understandable because the bubbles of the divers may be stuck in some rooms and would oxidize the structure.
Here are a few pictures of the dive…