Ah, diving the SS Yongala. What an adventure! Alan previously dived this when we had a lot less experience, but it was a first for me and I was so excited to get to see a boat wreck for the first time and such an interesting one at that. The SS Yongala sunk suddenly in 1911 and was only found 50 years later. You can read more about the history of the SS Yongala in Alan’s post about it here.
At 109 metres long, the ship sits between 14 and 28 metres of water and has become home to a wide array of fascinating creatures. The dive site is in the middle of the ocean, between large shipping boat routes and is prone to strong current and chop. We were lucky there was only stronger current towards the surface the day we visited and although it is a bit daunting to get down there at first, it is a spectacular feeling to find yourself in front of such an old ship that is surprisingly intact. We circled the boat one way on the first dive and the opposite on the second dive, each allowing us to discover totally different aspects of the ship and different sea life. There is so much to see that each dive is totally different. We were shown a toilet, the ship engine and the chained box at the front of the boat holding all of the human remains found. For a while these were left where they were found around the ship but as you will have read in Alan’s post, they were forced to lock them us as some sick people were caught trying to steal human bones from the ship.
The Yongala has been underwater for over 100 years now and has become home to so many different creatures with its uncountable nooks and crannies and deep hidden passageways. While diving we spotted a green turtle, sea snakes, huge groupers, a beautiful marble ray, barracuda and huge schools of fish of all sorts. We also spotted the fattest longest moray eel we have ever seen. Only Alan and I spotted this during the dive so we don’t know if this guy is a resident or not but he was so huge we weren’t even sure it was an eel at first. The photo we have barely does it justice but will give you an idea.
An eerie and fascinating experience, this is definitely not a dive to be missed and is very different from other dives you will experience. Our way back to shore had two surprises. The good surprise of 3 humpback whales which the whole crew and us divers got hysterical over. Two adult whales and one calf gave us a quick but beautiful show, breaching out in the distance again and again. The bad surprise was the dive boat getting stuck in sand in shallow water as the crew missed the right tide to get back safely onto land. We all had to jump out of the boat, carry all of the gear and wait to be picked up. Although they didn’t act like this was a regular occurrence, it happened to Alan his first time around too. This dive company was definitely not the most organised but the quality of the dive site sure makes up for it!