Escape the crowds and immerse yourself in an experience offered nowhere else on the Great Barrier Reef.

Welcome to Australia

Australia is home to more marine World Heritage Sites than any other country, hosting five of them. The most popular being The Great Barrier Reef. With more than 2,000 individual reefs and an area as large as 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 square miles) covered by 900 islands, in 1981 this beautiful location was named to the World Heritage Site list and makes up the largest coral reef system in the world. This was in order to not only protect the large reef itself, but also the marine life that inhabits the area. This includes the Humphead Wrasse and more than 1,500 other species of fish found at this destination.

The SS Yongala Wreck

The Yongala Shipwreck is without doubt one of the best dives in Australia, and classed as one of the best shipwreck dive in the world. Located in Queensland, the wreck is full of an array of marine life of all different kinds, ranging from potato cod to beautiful sea snakes.

Named after a small town in the South of Australia, Yongala, originally pronounced as Yonggluh, meant broad water. It was launched in 1903 on the 29th April and left for Southampton on 9th October. Carrying on board passengers on route to Australia, the vessel arrived in Sydney on 6th December 1903. You will be able to find more information at the Maritime Museum of Townsville.

This wonderful ship sank back in 1911 during a tropical cyclone and killed around 124 people, with no recorded survivors.

The ship had no forms of communication and therefore could not have been warned of the weather that they were facing.  The ship is now home to an array of marine life, such as eels, rays, sharks and many other fish! The wreck itself is actually considered by most people to be the best wreck dive in the world.

Diving The SS Yongala Shipwreck

The Yongala dive attracts all different kinds of dive enthusiasts from around the world. These hungry adventurers come to visit the famous SS Yongala shipwreck in thirst for one of the best dives in the world. All divers with a passion to explore, a sense of adventure and a desire to learn about the history of this tragic event and witness the abundance of marine life that is now classed as home.

The Yongala is a 110 meter former steel passenger and freight steamer. The Yongala shipwreck was officially given protection under the Historic Shipwrecks act in 1981.

The shipwreck itself was only found in 1958.

The ship is located 90 kilometers south-east of Townsville and 10 kilometers from Cape Bowling Green. The Yongala is 109 meters long, the ship lists to starboard and the bow points north.

With Townsville being the main gateway to The Yongala, it takes about 3 hours to reach the shipwreck by fast boat.  However, for a shorter boat ride journey, it is also possible to dive The Yongala from Ayr, which is only 1-hour drive south of Townsville and then a 30-minute boat trip from there. Take this into consideration, as the shorter the trip the less likely it is for your dive to be canceled due to changes in the weather conditions.

SS Yongala Shipwreck

Dive Conditions

Winds tides and the weather can limit your access and ruin your dive. As in most cases, the timing of your dive is very important. The tides and currents can make it too difficult to dive, and in some cases, even dangerous. Your visit will be timed accordingly by the professional dive operators, as they are aware of the conditions of the dive site. Bear in mind that due to bumpy or windy sea conditions your dive can be canceled, this is due to the shipwreck's location which is well away from the protection of The Great Barrier Reef.

Most divers will alternate in these cases and dive The Great Barrier Reef instead, which in all honesty, is not a bad plan B! Please note that divers are forbidden from entering the shipwreck and some have been arrested or fined for doing this very thing.

What Marine Life Can You See Diving The Yongala?

Most divers come to visit the Yongala for the wreck diving, but this beautiful location really does have so much more to offer! The marine life that surrounds The Yongala is out of this world. Giant groupers the size of small cars are often spotted along with soaring eagle and manta rays. Tornado formations of barracuda, clouds of fish, sea turtles, giant trevallies and sea snakes are not shy of The Yongala.

The dive site also offers various species of shark including the tiger shark, the rare bull shark and sometimes even the gentle giant whale shark.

You will be able to enjoy the vast array of soft corals as well as see the gorgonian sea fans that dance in the current. Minke whales and humpback whales can be found during the right seasons from June to November.

This dive destination is really an excellent location for underwater photography. So make sure you bring your camera!

When is the best time to visit Australia?

Divers are able to visit The Yongala shipwreck all year long. It is good to know that the best time to visit The Great Barrier Reef is between the months of August and December, however it is possible to dive there at all times of the year. Temperatures in the water range from 22 degrees in June and rising up to around 28 degrees in March. The warmest months are also the wettest, these run from January to March. 

If you plan to visit during the months of March and April you might be lucky enough to watch the coral spawning which attracts the larger pelagics such as the amazing whale sharks. All in all, The Yongala is arguably the best shipwreck in the world.

Australia Travel Information

Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

Language – English

Currency – Australian dollar

Major Airport – Sydney Airport

Closest Airport - Kairns Airport

Top Attractions – Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Great Barrier Reef

Information link –

Want to Read More about Some of the Best Scuba Diving in the World?

Thanks for reading, if you want to take a look at some of the other highly rated scuba diving locations in the world, then check out our top scuba diving destinations. Know another great dive location? We would love to hear about it in our comments below.

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