Get wrecked on world-best dive sites

Christine Retschlag on April 25th, 2018

Aside from the Great Barrier Reef itself, Queensland boasts some of Australia’s most spectacular dives based around some of the greatest shipwreck tales in history.

Ideal for certified and experienced divers - discover 10 of the state’s best wreck dives that are brimming with underwater history.

SS Yongala

Buried some 12 nautical miles off of Alva Beach near Ayr, 88km south of Townsville, the SS Yongala Wreck is renowned as one of the world’s top dive sites. One of the beauties of this dive is that the ship itself sank in 1911, but it was more than 50 years later that it was discovered. This is an ideal site for swimming for giant groupers, schools of trevally and cobia, and sea snakes and turtles.

Lady Bowen

Explore the short-lived history of this grand dame, which was built in Glasgow in 1864, arrived in Australia four months later, but quickly sunk when she crashed into Kennedy Shoal near Dunk Island in Tropical North Queensland in 1894. Just thirty years of sailing for a lifetime of good diving with giant groupers, sea snakes, sharks, rays, lionfish and turtles.

RMS Quetta

The tale of the RMS Quetta is notorious as one of Australia’s biggest marine tragedies when she sunk in 1899, killing 133 people. The Adolphus Channel in Tropical North Queensland claimed this ship’s life and these days, divers are drawn to the site for cod, trout, angelfish and barracuda sightings.


Just offshore Lady Elliot Island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef you’ll find the remnants of Severance. A relatively recent ship graveyard, this two-masted sailing boat sunk in 1998 and not only still has parts of its sails but is adorned with soft corals.  Now a haven for cobia and gropers, you may also be lucky enough to spot one of the tasseled wobbegongs or lionfish now living inside the yacht.

The Cremer

Beautiful Keswick Island in the Whitsundays Group is now the permanent home of The Cremer, a large steam ship which sank in 1945. You’ll find her remnants just 10 metres offshore at this dive site, now home to Maori wrasse fish and considered ideal for its shelter from wind and current.

The Singapore

Another gem to be found off of Keswick Island is The Singapore, which met its fate when it struck a large rock just offshore in the late 1800s. This is a more advanced dive site, which boasts depths of 25 metres. Check out the pelagic fish, sharks and rays here.

The Llewellyn

Divers are enamoured with the wreck of The Llewellyn, which is closer to mainland Mackay. There’s a great story about this coal steamer, which mysteriously disappeared in heavy winds in 1919 between Rockhampton and Bowen, but was only discovered in 1997.


Dive to a depth of 32 metres and you can experience the Cetacea, a 13-metre trawler that sank in 1992 off the Southern Great Barrier Reef coastline of 1770. Underwater aficionados adore the sandy bottom, which is home to a variety of marine life such as rays, grouper, tuna and trevally.


Experienced divers are fond of the wreckage of the Barcoola, which sits in 41 metres of water, not far from the Cetacea, along the coastline of 1770. Diving here is a treat not only for the groupers, cod, kingfish and giant cobia but large rays, bull sharks and bronze whalers.


With a name like this you’d wonder what this trawler did in a previous life to meet her fate along the 1770 coastline in 2003. You’ll find both open water and advanced divers exploring this wreck in 26 metres of water. Expect to see thousands of fish and marine life for which the Southern Great Barrier Reef is renowned.

We, at Barrier Reef Australia, can help you plan your next diving adventure, give us a call 1300 231 118.

Christine Retschlag

Christine Retschlag

Christine Retschlag is an award-winning Australian journalist who has worked in newspapers, magazines and online for the past 25 years in Australia, Hong Kong, London and Singapore. In 2006, she won the Australian Travel Writer of the Year award for Best Trade Story as well as the Jack Butters Memorial Award for Travel Writing Excellence. In 2007 she won Best Australian Story over 1000 words and in 2014 won Best Food Travel Story. She is also the author and architect of the successful travel blog: The Global Goddess.

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