The S.S. YONGALA sank in a cyclone on the 23rd March 1911 (over 100 years ago) 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.

She sank just 12 nautical miles off the coast of Cape Bowling Green in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with the loss of all 122 passengers.  Exactly what happened we will never know – although research indicates the vessel was steaming, the fact no life rafts were found indicate the loss of the Yongala was sudden and tragic.

Yongala Postcard

Now it is known as one of the world’s top wreck dives and certainly one of Australia’s best dive sites due to the prolific variety of marine life. Giant Queensland gropers, giant rays and giant trevally  hang beneath the stern while schools of trevally and cobia congregate around the depths of the wreck. Queenfish, barracuda, turtles, sea snakes, eagle rays and clown fish are just some of the other incredible life inhabiting the coral encrusted structure.

The Great Barrier Reef is the most bio-diverse ecosystem on the planet including over 1500 species of fish and 350 different types of coral. The Yongala wreck has now become an artificial reef with more varieties of coral growing on it than most natural reef systems. It is also host to a huge diversity of pelagic and reef species found in the Coral Sea. You will see more fish in one dive on the wreck than ten on the reef. It’s certainly a dive experience you will never forget.

Points of Interest

Illustration of Yongala wreck indicating main features

2011: S.S.Yongala Wreck, 100 Years on the Sea bed

In 2011 the S.S Yongala Wreck had laid on the sea bed for 100 years, this event was commemorated by services both out at the wreck site and in Memorials on land.  Yongala Dive laid a wreath on the site and held its own small service with a number of lucky divers in attendance. S.S Yongala "100 years old"

Download the Poem and Prayer “Loss of the Yongala, March 23-24, 1911” written by W J MacCarthy, of North Queensland Herald, on April 29th 1911.

Why is this Australia’s most famous wreck dive ?

The S.S. YONGALA’s history  makes this dive experience very special and a must do for anyone living in or visiting Australia. For more detailed information on the ‘Yongala Dive experience’  click here – dont forget to view the “a days diving with Yongala Dive’ video in the sidebar.


  • Yongala Slideshow

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    Yongala Dives Marine Life Page

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    Yongala Diving News