The SS Yongala
Although it’s fairly impossible to find a direct comparison, the 510-foot Spiegel Grove off Key Largo, Florida, was sunk as an artificial reef in 2002 and originally laid on her starboard side. The ship now sits upright after hurricanes and storms pushed her over. Ocean Divers knows the waters; www.oceandivers.com.
There’s an ongoing debate in the dive world. Ask a group of well-traveled divers about the world’s best single dive site, then stand back and enjoy the chatter. Just when the bragging or platitudes reach their crescendo, bring up the SS Yongala, a wreck off Townsville (Queensland). If they’ve dived it, the conversation stops.
Sunk in a storm with total loss of life in 1911, this 350-foot passenger and freight steamer sat in the middle of a flat seabed, lost until 1958. During this time, piles of marine life gathered and grew to huge proportions (you’ll encounter sea snakes the size of your bicep, jacks so big they seem impossible and seven species of ray that pancake at night in the current). The wreck, which sits at 100 feet, is fed by a constant, nutrient-rich current. Viz rarely exceeds 50 feet, but for divers, the Yongala has become an undersea island of adventure. — TS
Need to Know
Getting There Fly Qantas from Sydney or Brisbane to Townsville (TSV).
When to Go It’s warm and tropical year-round. The rainy-season is October to May; dry season is April to November.
Dive Season The viz, which maxes out at about 50 feet, will improve slightly by diving during the dry season. Water temps average 80°F .
Operators Yongala Dive (www.yongaladive.com.au), Pro Dive Townsville (www.prodivetownsville.com.au) and Adrenalin Dive (www.adrenalindive.com.au). Three-day-combo Great Barrier Reef and Yongala live-aboard trips are available from $480 with Adrenaline Dive and Pro Dive Townsville.