Dec 052011
Bridge on the ex-HMAS Canberra

About the wreck The ex-HMAS Canberra was a frigate in the Australian Navy until she was scuttled in October 2009 after a long negotiation and preparation by various groups. The ship was specifically prepared for divers, with entanglement hazards such as wiring and environmental hazards such as the hundreds of tonnes of lead used as ballast removed. The lead placed in the bottom of the hull to keep large ships upright was replaced with concrete to serve the same purpose once the ship hit the seafloor, and large holes were cut in each room to allow divers to swim through while still being able to see daylight. While entering an underwater shipwreck is a risky business, the preparation of the [read more…]

Nov 142011
Diving the SS Yongala

About the site The SS Yongala is regularly touted as Australia’s best wreck dive, lying 12nm offshore in Far North Queensland. Given the task of driving over a tonne of dive gear 3,000km to Mt Hypipamee for the expedition, Nat Kenyon and I took a two day break from sitting behind the wheel for an inspection of the famous wreck. 2011 is the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Yongala, who went down on March 11th (close to midnight, so possibly on March 12th) 1911 in a tropical cyclone. 122 passengers on board perished, as well as an unknown number of children who were not recorded on passenger ships manifests in that era. The wreck was first dived [read more…]

Aug 152011
Cogwheel on the Sir William McPherson

About the site The Sir William McPherson was a transport ship originally built in 1912, and scuttled in 1949 in an area now known the Ships Graveyard. She lies in about 55m, and this was my first dive on her. There are a large number of wrecks accessible from Portsea, Sorrento and Torquay. Prior to 1935, unwanted or damaged ships were stripped of their valuables and towed to outside the 3 mile Port of Melbourne limit before being sunk. The Great Depression in the 1930s increased the practise as scrap metal prices dropped and it was no longer worth holding onto old hulks. However, after a number of incidents of ships not sinking on target and running aground, Commonwealth legislation [read more…]

Jul 042011
Torpedos on the J4 submarine

About the wreck The J class submarines were built by the British in a hurry during WWI in response to a rumour that the Germans had invented a faster submarine. After the war, the remaining 6 of the original fleet of 7 was gifted to the Royal Australian Navy, and travelled across the world to eventually be based out of Geelong. After a very expensive refit on arrival, the running costs for the J class subs was found to be a fair bit higher than estimated. Built using old technology, they also became obsolete in fairly short order. With budget cuts for the Navy, the subs were handed over for salvage and scuttling. Two of the six subs ended up [read more…]

Jun 132011
Wreck of the George Kermode

About the wreck The George Kermode was a bucket dredge of 1,380 tonnes, known as the Sit William Matthew when she was built in 1914 for the Ceylon Government, Colombo. After being acquired by the Australian Government in 1917 and then the Melbourne Harbour Trust in 1941, she was scuttled on April Fool’s Day 1976, off the southern coast of Phillip Island. She lies upside-down in about 20m of water, coming up off the bottom to nearly 12m in some places. Being so shallow compared to most of the wrecks accessible out of Port Phillip Bay you get plenty of time to explore. The Kermode is broken up in the middle, with big buckets lying out on the sand in [read more…]