Nearby Keswick Island are four known shipwrecks which are believed to have sunk between 1890 and 1950. Apart from the Woy-Woy which is still yet to be located, these shipwrecks provide outstanding dive and snorkel sites.
The reefs and hidden rock formations around Keswick Island are hidden just below the water which, based on shipping instruments during this era, made navigation at night or during storms very dangerous. These wrecks are a fascinating piece of the region’s history.
The Singapore was bound for Sydney from Hong Kong when she struck what is now called ‘Singapore Rock’ sometime in January 1877. Fortunately, no lives were lost. The Singapore was a 964 ton single screw steamer with a length of 87 metres, and a width of 10 metres. Despite its size, the ship hadn’t been seen for decades until recently when it was dived on for the first time.
Singapore Rock is just off beautiful Singapore Bay, on Keswick Island. This area is a designated Marine Park Green Zone and is home to an array of turtles and magnificent fish.
This 34 metre long, single screw coastal steamer was last seen departing Cape Capricorn Lighthouse on 17th July 1919 and disappeared during heavy gales as it sailed from Rockhampton to Bowen.
Although wreckage was found on St Bees Island not long after the incident, the wreck site itself was not discovered until 1997. The Llewellyn lies in about 35 metres of water, appoximately halfway between St Bees Island and Bailey Islet.
Sadly, there was some loss of life from this incident. Given it’s historical significance, the Llewellyn wreck requires a permit to approach within 500m of the site.
The Cremer was a 50 metre passenger and cargo ship that was employed in trading with Indonesia, Singapore and China. It ran aground off St Bees Island during a major storm in September 1943. Luckily, there was no casualties. The ship was stripped of all major equipment and then abandoned. It is suggested that there were even picnics held on the wreck whilst it was aground; however, after a few major storms the ship was finally taken from the shore, and laid to rest in waters nearby St Bees.
A wreck, believed to be the Cremer, was discovered in September 1984. The remains of the iron hull, engine blocks, propeller shaft, flywheel and deck machinery can be seen. The engine area is mostly intact, with two engines (each about 8 metres long) and a propeller shaft still attached. It is now a popular site for snorkelling and diving site, home to Brown Sweetlip, Honeycomb Grouper and turtles.
The Woy Woy
Another wreck that was known to have sunk around the shores of Keswick and St Bees Islands during this time is the Woy Woy. Records suggest it rests on the eastern side of St Bees – there is currently limited information available on the wreck, and no known location.
Diving the wrecks
These wreck sites provide amazing diving in the Whitsundays, and all are within a short distance from Keswick Island. Each of the wrecks have their own highlights. And with relatively few divers having accessed these sites, the coral formations and variety of marine life is outstanding.
If you’re interested to learn more about the wrecks, or dive some of these sites, contact us for further details.