Coral reefs aren’t the only fascinating sight to dive for in Australian waters – try hunting for sunken treasure instead
Did you know how many shipwrecks can be found around Australia’s waters? Australian Geographic reports that there are nearly 8,000 shipwrecks registered around the country, and only a quarter have been found!
The wrecks range in age from as early as the 17th Century. Each state even has a historic shipwreck agency dedicated to documenting these sites.
With all these aged vessels and their hidden treasures lying at the bottom of the ocean, it’d be a waste not to scavenge for some valuable items. So plunge deep into the sea and you might uncover a prized relic or two!
The Ruins of History
The oldest-recorded shipwreck is that of the English vessel “Trial”, lost in 1622 off the north-western coast of Western Australia.
A number of Australia’s shipwrecks are especially popular because of their international significance. The Dutch East India Company has lost a number of vessels to the Western Australia coast.
The Best Diving Spots
The SS Yongala is by far rated by diving enthusiasts as one of the best dive sites in the world. The 110-metre freight steamer disappeared during a cyclone in 1911 and went undiscovered until 1954. It lies 30m below the surface, and divers can spot schools of marine wildlife – from octopuses to white tip reef sharks.
This wreck is recommended for advanced divers due to the strong currents. It’s one hour’s drive south of Townsville, followed by a 30-minute boat ride.
Beginners may want to try diving the SS Orizaba, which beached on the shallow waters of Rockingham in 1905. The intact boilers and hull create interesting caves and crevices to observe marine life flitting about.
The SS Orizaba is located in Rockingham, an hour’s drive from Perth and 20 minutes by boat.
Keepsakes from Beneath
When exploring these underwater wonderlands, you may be lucky enough to stumble upon a relic amidst the ruins.
Sadly you can’t keep the little souvenir, as it’s against Australian law to disturb or remove items from historic shipwrecks without a permit. Instead, notify the respective state or territory historic shipwreck agency within
If you’re interested in possessing a shipwreck keepsake, you can purchase one that’s legally in circulation – with a registration certificate – from dealers or collectors.
But the way I see it, the rare and adventurous experience of wandering through and exploring a shipwreck is a treasure in itself!
By Pamela Chow