Dive / Accommodation Packages
If time is on your side you can stay longer at the lodge and continue exploring the wreck.
Our 2 Day 2 Night – 4 Dive (Full Gear + Dorm Style Accommodation) is the most popular dive package. Upgrade to the Double room (if available) for an additional $39.00.
Please see available options listed under the “Buy Now”.
If you would like to stay longer then please let us know and we can advise you on availability and price.
Trip Review – SS Yongala
Date of Travel – 22nd December 2014
THE DIVE - The Yongala Wreck
The historical SS Yongala is a superb dive, embellish in a myriad of marine life, it is known as the best wreck dive in Australian waters. Diving with large pelagic species is always an unforgettable experience, what makes the SS Yongala unique is few divers have ever witnessed so many schooling fish in the one location. Nothing quite prepares you for the oversize giant trevally darting through baitfish, huge schools of Barracudas, various species of Sharks, inquisitive sea snakes, Green and Hawksbill turtles, giant Maori wrasse, enormous coral trout and the undisputed master of the wreck “V.W.” a 2.5m Queensland Grouper. Richly adorned with colourful parades of sea whip and soft coral trees the SS Yongala is a dive not to be missed.
LOCATION – Alva Beach, AYR, Queensland – Yongala Wreck
Leaving from Cairns we are heading south toward a small residential seaside village, Alva Beach as you arrive at Ayr. The drive is about five hours south, approximately 460Kms along the Bruce Highway, 1.5 hours south of Townsville and 2.5 hours north of Airlie Beach. Yongala Dive is renown for its unique proximity to the historical wreck, a short 30 min boat ride.
We highly recommend you stay for 1 or 2 nights and relax after your dives or book a weekend package and enjoy the comforts of the Yongala Dive’s classic Queensland style on-site accommodation. Set in tropical gardens makes diving the S.S. Yongala even easier, with clean dorm and double rooms, kitchen, BBQ only minutes from the beach. You can purchase food from Ayr to cook in the lodge. Other facilities include telephone and washing machine area. Dive Gear washing/storage facilities are also available.
A Quick Overview
(5 Star Rating)
Check in at the Dive Shop: 7.30am
Dive Briefing: 8.10am
Departure: 8.30am - 4WD transfer to the beach where we launch the Yongala Express
Hours on the Site: 3 Hours
Number of Dives: 2 Dives with no time restrictions and 1 hour surface, Fresh fruit and snacks are provided during the surface interval
Dive Gear: You can bring your dive gear or hire dive equipment – Pricing options available with of without dive equipment.
Coach Transfers: Pick-ups available from Ayr Bus Stop at 12.45pm & 3.25pm but MUST be arranged day before. (Lodge Guests Only)
Your Boat: A purpose built 10m rigid inflatable boat ensuring a fast, fun and safe trip. Protection from the sun, spray and wind – overhead sun canopy and side curtain. There is a marine toilet on board for your convenience.
Your itinerary for the day:
Your day begins on arrival at the premises, which are based at Alva Beach, 16kms from Ayr. Once checked in you will complete the necessary paperwork, organise your dive gear and you can meet and relax with your new dive buddies. A detailed dive brief is completed on land first before being transferred by 4WD for an exciting trip to the beach where the boat is launched and then it's off to the Yongala dive site. With just a short boat ride of (approximately 30 minutes depending on conditions) you will arrive at the wreck in no time and then it’s straight in for your first dive.
Fresh fruit and snacks is provided during the surface interval (including free cordial and water) then its back into the water for the final dive before heading back to Alva Beach where you can shower, change and enjoy a wonderful BBQ lunch whilst discussing your awesome dive experiences with your new friends.
As I descend on the Yongala a strange and eerier feeling certainly came over me as I anxiously waited to make sight of the wreck. Knowing that the Captain, crew and all passengers totalling 121 people and one horse all lost their lives to this tragic accident at sea now 103 years ago. The Yongala lies at about a 45 degree angle on her starboard side in 28 metres of water which you will first make sight of the bow at around 15 metres.
This is not my first dive on the Yongala and depending on the tides and currents visibility can vary quite considerably but for today we had 20 metres once on the wreck. Today we experienced very little current enabling an opportunity as I’m descending to take photos of the bow of the vessel. Nothing prepares you for the amount of marine life on the Yongala, every inch of the wreck is alive and occupied. The Yongala is richly adorned, covered with soft coral trees, seawhips, sea grass, and more coral than you could hope to find on most reefs, the hull is basically intact.
Being our first dive we head to the bottom of the Yongala to record our deepest part of the dive to be greeted by our first Olive sea snake. Sea snakes are venomous however they are more inquisitive and non-aggressive and make for exciting viewing to any diver. Descending port side across the sloping decks we make our way to the bow, passing the forward cargo hold, this from memory of our dive briefing now contains some femur bones. The Companionway and compartments are crowded with anglefish and hundreds of yellow perch. Making our way to the bow of the vessel the broken forward mast are covered in coral, small clouds of baitfish and Fusilliers scamper from the path of the patrolling Humphead Maori wrasse.
The wreck is home to so many different species of marine life and under the bow, the deepest part of the vessel is something to behold. Mangrove jack and sweetlip converge with a large estuarine cod. On many other dives I’ve completed on the Yongala large marble rays and manta rays have been captured on film. This is what makes the SS Yongala so special as you never know what will come swimming past you next.
Patiently I watch my buddies, keen photographers snap away as a Hawksbill turtle poses momentarily while they graze on the wreck, these guys are oblivious to our presence. Not long after we sighted a resident large moray eel presenting itself half out of the wreck waiting for it’s next meal to swim past. With the SS Yongala recorded at 110 metres in length we keep moving so to maximise our bottom time and cover as much of the wreck as possible in the dive. In reality don’t expect to cover every square inch of the wreck in your first dive or even second as it is too large and there is too much to see.
Continuing on the dive it was not long before we came across a huge Groper, schools of Turrum and Red Emperor Bass and looking up into the sunlight I noticed schools of giant trevally frantically moving around the top of the wreck. We recommend you spend as much time allowed (keeping within your safe diving limits) on the bottom as some of the best photo opportunities and sightings can be found under the bow of the vessel. Today was our lucky day as my buddies and I spotted the highly prized sighting of “V.W” a 2.5m Queensland grouper who confidently calls the SS Yongala home, the undisputed master of the wreck.
As we lifted off the bottom and hang back to view the sweep of the stern, blurred by a frenetic of fish traffic.
Making our way along the starboard side the stern rears above, bejewelled in colourful soft corals and seafans. We ascend and make our way to the port side of the vessel, where it is possible to peer into the bowels of the wreck to spy the cast iron bath and toilets. There is so much to see you really need to take your time swimming along the port side of the wreck, which is our plan for the second dive. With air running low its time to ascend, so we move back to the mooring line for a controlled and safe ascent. This was a stunning dive and we are all keen to hear the history of the SS Yongala from the crew, enjoy some light refreshment and return for our second dive, which will be spent in the shallow section of the wreck.
After an hour surface interval on the boat enjoying some tasty cakes and fresh fruit and listening to the skipper who has us all captivated with the history of the SS Yongala it’s time to descend for our second dive.
Our excitement is accelerated knowing what is now waiting for us with all the marine life witnessed from the first dive. Once over the bow we move directly along the portside of the Yongala where we would concentrate all our time for the second dive. With a number of exposed sections the view from a safe distance without touching the wreck exposes an array of macro and pelagic marine life. We recommend taking it really slow (subject to varying currents which can be challenging at times) as you don’t want to miss anything.
Keeping our depth between 20metres - 24metres allows you to really explore the top side of the wreck which is full of large coral trout, giant trevally, batfish just to name a few. On this dive we sighted a school of barracuda hanging off the portside. It is well worth taking a look out over your shoulder into the deep blue water as you may see sharks, manta rays and even in season Minke whales (Winter months, May – July) swim past. It has also been recorded on video last year passengers snorkeling with a whale shark.
We hope our photo’s and video of our dive on the SS Yongala inspire you on your visit to Australia and in particular your travels to North Queensland to stop and do this must do dive.
Diving the SS Yongala truly is the only dive in the Great Barrier Marine Park where you will get to witness an abundance of macro and pelagic marine life on any one dive site you complete in this area. With a complete fishing ban both commercial and private within a two kilometer radius of the wreck ensures the guarantee of the marine life on this well acknowledged top 10 dives in the world.
For information on diving the SS Yongala please contact us.
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