13 of the best shipwreck dives of all time

Sure, Queensland is home to the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s also home to some of Australia’s most interesting dive sites based around some of the greatest shipwrecks in history. Take a deep breath and enjoy as we dive deeper into this fascinating underwater world of shipwreck dives.

SS Yongala

Considered one of the world’s top dive sites, the SS Yongala shipwreck is situated 12 nautical miles off Alva Beach near Ayr. This ship sank in 1911, but it was more than half a century before she was discovered.

You’ll find giant groupers and schools of trevally and cobia here, as well as gentle sea snakes and turtles.

Tangalooma Wrecks

Tangalooma Wrecks

Situated within swimming distance off Brisbane’s Moreton Island are the rusty wrecks of 15 ships that were deliberately sunk to create a break wall for small boats, as well as provide the perfect spot for divers and snorkellers.

You’ll find wobbegongs, trevally, kingfish yellowtail and tropical fish at the Tangalooma Wrecks, which have been here since 1963.

Ex-HMAS Brisbane

Despite its name, the Ex-HMAS Brisbane is not situated off the Queensland capital, but on the Sunshine Coast between Maroochydore and Mooloolaba.

Operating between 1967 and 2001, this former warship was sunk in 2005 and now provides the ideal artificial reef for divers with a huge array of sea life to discover in and around the wreck.

Lady Bowen

Lady Bowen dive site Queensland

This elegant old lady was built in Glasgow in 1864 and arrived in Australia four months later, but met her fate when she crashed into Kennedy Shoal near Dunk Island in 1894.

These days, The Lady Bowen is home to giant groupers, sea snakes, sharks, rays, lionfish and turtles at this dive site.

St Paul

Divers consider this wreck off Moreton Island as one of the most challenging, as it sits in an exposed area of sea with no decompression diving. But this wreck carries a tragic history worth exploring. Eighteen people died when it mysteriously hit Smiths Rock back in 1914, during good sailing conditions.

RMS Quetta

Considered one of Australia’s greatest marine tragedies, 133 people died when the RMS Quetta sank in 1899, after striking a coral mount near the Adolphus Channel in the Torres Strait Islands. Cod, trout, angel fish and barracuda are common here.

The All Souls Quetta Memorial Church on Thursday Island was built in memory of the ship.


For divers looking for a more intact site, head to Lady Elliot Island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Just offshore here, you can explore the remnants of the Severance, a two-masted sailing boat that sunk in 1998.

So new is this wreck, remnants of the sails can be seen, and you’ll likely encounter a moray eel here.

The Cremer

Situated just 10 metres offshore from Keswick Island, off Mackay, The Cremer is considered a perfect dive, thanks to its shelter from wind and current. This large steamship sank in 1945 and is now home to giant Maori wrasse fish.

The Singapore

Keswick Island

Another treasure of the warm water off of Keswick Island is The Singapore, which sunk in the late 1800s after striking a large rock just offshore.

Considered a more challenging dive than The Cremer, it sits in some 25 metres of water and is home to pelagic fish, sharks and rays.

The Llewellyn

Closer to Mackay, you’ll find the wreck of The Llewellyn, which is ideal for experienced divers. This coastal steamer mysteriously disappeared in heavy winds in 1919 between Rockhampton and Bowen and was only located in 1997.



Off the Southern Great Barrier Reef coastline of Seventeen Seventy you’ll find the remnants of the Cetacea, a 13-metre trawler which sank in 1992.

This lady of the ocean sits 32 metres underwater on a sandy bottom, attracting a variety of marine life such as rays, grouper, tuna and trevally.


Also around the same area as the Cetacea lays the wreckage of the Barcoola, sunk in 1994. Some believe this is the stand-out dive – she’s in 41 metres of water and home to groupers, cod, kingfish and giant cobia.

There’s often large rays, bull shares, and bronze whalers here, too.


The trawler met her karma in 2003 and now sits upright in 26 metres of water, again off the Southern Great Barrier Reef coastline of 1770.

This is considered an accessible dive for both open water and advanced divers, and is home to thousands of fish and other marine life.

Have you been diving at any of these shipwreck sites?