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AUSTRALIASS YongalaThe SS Yongala was on her 99th voyage when she was caught in a cyclone and disappeared without a trace. All of the 122 people on board perished in the disaster. The ship had been enroute to Cairns from Melbourne.“ The Yongala rests on its starboard side on the sandy seabed and has become a mecca for marine life. The deepest part of the wreck is at 28m, with the shallowest areas around 15m ”She was due to be fitted with a radio on her 100th voyage - apiece of equipment that could have saved lives, or enabled the Yongala to avoid tragedy altogether. The vessel’s sinking just south of Townsville on 23 March 1911 was a mystery, and the Yongala remained undiscovered until 1958.
The Yongala rests on its starboard side on the sandy seabed and has become a mecca for marine life. The deepest part of the wreck is at 28m, with the shallowest areas around 15m. It is in remarkably good condition for a ship that has been submerged for over a century.
The coral covers almost every inch of the 109-metre-long ship, and the sheer volume and diversity of marine life that visits this wreck or calls it home is astonishing.
Huge schools of barracuda swirl above this artificial reef, joined by other large predatory fish like trevallies, wahoo, kingfish and snapper. Silky sharks, grey reef sharks, guitar sharks, eagle rays, marble rays, cobias and turtles are just a few regular visitors to this oasis for marine life.
Residents of the wreck include giant grouper, lionfish, stonefish, scorpionfish and moray eels. There is also a substantial collection of critters, nudibranchs of all shapes and sizes, including huge Spanish dancers, various crustations and pipefish. As you would expect, this healthy and bustling reef is also home to a myriad of smaller reef fish.
As a mark of respect for those who lost their lives, and to help preserve this jewel of a dive, entering the Yongala is prohibited. However, with the amount of marine life on and around the wreck, it would be difficult to tear yourself away from the relentless action outside this absolutely stunning dive site.
Did you know?Due to this wreck’s protected status, access is by permit only, so make sure you use a licensed operator. That also means you are not allowed to touch or penetrate the wreck.Who to dive with Adrenaline Snorkel and Dive www.adrenalindive.com.au Essential informationLocation: Townsville, Australia Depth: 15m-28mDepth: 15m-28m Diver level: AdvancedDiver level: Advanced
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USNS General Hoyt S Vandenberg
Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver is an independent publisher of scuba diving magazines in all major English-speaking countries.