Last Updated Nov 25, Georgie Ashworth

WA has an extraordinary maritime history and there are plenty of shipwrecks shallow enough to be enjoyed with nothing more than a mask and snorkel. Read on to dive into their unique stories and where to find them.

Shipwreck

Omeo Wreck in Coogee

Just 25 metres from the shore of Coogee Beach rests the remains of iron steamship, Omeo. The star attraction of the Coogee Maritime Trail ran aground in 1905 after multiple close shaves, including the disastrous collision with Swan Spit Lighthouse that saw the building collapse into the ocean. The Omeo played an integral part in Australian history, assisting in laying the Bass Straight and Overland submarine telegraph line which allowed Australia to communicate across the world with Britain.

Peeking out from the shallows only two to four metres deep, the sternpost and collapsed sections of the bow are visible from the shore, and snorkelers can explore this piece of Australian history up close, alongside the colourful marine life that have made the Omeo their home. Keep an eye out for nudibranchs, sea squirts and Shaw’s cowfish, amongst the array of coral species on site.

The trail aims to educate divers on WA’s rich naval archaeology via underwater plaques, artificial reefs and submerged art sculptures. Dutch inspired replica cannons and giant sea stars are scattered amongst the purpose-built reef, which strives to support local biodiversity. This unique underwater experience is not to be missed!

More details on the maritime trail and sites can be found here.

The Wreck of The Shark on Rottnest Island

With more than 13 ships wrecked within its waters, Rottnest Island is rich in maritime history. Only 50 metres from the shore, The Shark is Rottnest Island’s most accessible shipwreck and is a great spot to bring the kids for an immersive underwater adventure. With the bay boasting smooth, shallow waters this is an easy swimming site for those still getting comfortable in the water.

Breaking free of her mooring in Fremantle in 1939, the barge ship struck Henrietta Rocks on the east side of the island, before coming to rest on the seabed beneath Lookout Hill where she still lies today.

Henrietta Rocks is an easy 23-minute drive – or a 10-minute cycle – from the Rottnest Island Ferry Jetty along Parker Point Road, with the wreck just a short swim from the shore. If you don’t have your own snorkelling gear, Pedal and Flipper has island visitors covered with snorkelling kits available to hire for your trip.

Find your way to The Shark here.

Uribes Wreck

If military history is your jam, look no further than the eerie Uribes wreckage, off the shore of Thomson Bay near Philip Point on Rottnest Island.

Although the Uribes is one of Rottnest’s most recent sunken sea-farers, it is also one of the oldest ships off the island’s coast. Originally built in 1868 as a barque, Uribes eventually became a munitions and vehicle carrier during the Second World War.

In 1942, the vessel wrecked just metres from the Natural Jetty in Thomson Bay after her engines failed. Wedged between the protective shields of the jetty and the reef, this is one of Perth’s most well-preserved wreckages, with machinery and parts of the hull still in excellent condition.

Make sure to check the weather before setting out for this watery wonder, as strong swells can push swimmers into the boat.

You can find the Uribes shipwreck here.

Alex T. Brown Shipwreck, Yanchep

Just metres south of Yanchep’s popular surf break ‘The Spot’, the Alex T. Brown was beached in 1917 after losing control in strong gales. The site is one of the only two four-masted schooner shipwrecks in the whole of Australia, chronicling the danger of maritime travel in the early 20th century.

Memories of Alex T. Brown litter the community of Yanchep, with wood taken from wreckage embedded in local structures like the Yanchep Inn and parts of the historic Lindsay Homestead.

There is always a new discovery to be made at this site, as it is constantly changing with the tides, seasons and weather. Within the frames of the shipwreck, snorkellers will be able to explore the ship’s original keel, sister and rider keelsons and various other remnants.

Find the Alex T. Brown Shipwreck here.

 

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