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Townsville/Ayr, Queensland

Type of dive:                          Wreck

Access:                                    Boat only (Live aboard and day trips from

                                                   Townsville or 45 minutes from Alva Beach)

Minimum qualification:     Advanced Diver (Supervised Open Water)

Depth:                                     16-30 metres (50-100’)

Visibility:                                 8-25 metres (25-80’)

Water temperature:            24°C (75°F) 29°C (84°F)

Best time to visit:                 Any time (Can be windy in February/March)

Snorkelling:                            No, too deep.


Vessle details:

Type: Luxury Passenger Ship
Launched: Southhampton 1903 Sunk: 1911 (sunk in a cyclone)
Length: 109m (358’) Beam: 14m (45’)
Displacement: 3,664 tons Speed: 15.8 Knots
Crew: 73 Passengers: 49


The Yongala is regarded by many as the best wreck dive in the world.

Australia’s most famous diver, Valerie Taylor, is reported to have said “If I have one more dive left in my life, it would be the Yongala wreck.”

Built in England for the Adelaide Steamship Company, the luxury passenger ship, SS Yongala, was launched in 1903. On her 99th voyage from Melbourne to Cairns, she came to grief in a cyclone off Cape Bowling Green near Townsville, North Queensland. She disappeared without trace and sadly, all 122 passengers and crew perished.

She now lies covered in marine life on a sandy bottom listing to starboard (to the right) in a depth of around 30 metres (100’).

The wreck of the Yongala was not discovered by divers until 1958 and it is now one of Australia’s top dive sites, dived by thousands of divers every year.

Although much of the superstructure has collapsed over the years and is now encrusted, there is still plenty to see. At the stern, the rudder is obvious and on the bow, the anchor winch and anchors can be found. Unfortunately,  the ‘Yongala’ name on the bow is now encrusted with coral. Plenty of portholes to spot along the hull and many deck openings, including the engine room, funnel opening and the forward cargo holds, and a careful look inside will reveal porcelain toilets. Penetration and collecting artefacts is not allowed on the Yongala.

The wreck supports a huge array of tropical marine life, including large schools of fish, turtles, mantra rays, clown fish and inquisitive sea snakes that follow divers searching for food stirred up by fin kicks.

A highlight of the dive is the huge resident giant Queensland groper usually located at the bow.

Yongala is located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is protected by the Commonwealth Historic Wrecks Act.

Although an advanced diver certificate is recommended most operators will provide guided dives for open water divers. The site can be subject to current and choppy surface conditions.

The Yongala is an absolute must dive!

Copyright C 2015 Steve Sinclair


Other great dive sites to visit while you are there:

Davies Reef, Wheeler Reef, Orpheus Island, Lodestone Reef and Myrmidon Reef.


Dive services:

Phone: (+61) 7 4724 0600



Getting there:



Water temperatures:

Yongala sea temps