SS Yongala Trip Report

group(1)

The SS Yongala dive site is well known for its choppy seas, strong currents and BIG FISH!! We had all booked our flights to Townsville four months in advance, so we were watching the weather very closely the week leading up to the trip. On Thursday 13 Aug we got the all clear from Yongala Dive! We were all buzzing…we flew from Brisbane to Townsville and made our way (110km) south to Alva Beach, Ayr. There is a caravan park, a surf club, a few homes and the dive shop, that’s about it.

We arrived at the dive shop at 8:30pm, Nick and Matt (owners) were there to welcome the group. Yongala Dive is set up to accommodate up to 12 guests. The accommodation is above the dives shop, so very convenient. They showed us to our room and we hit the pillow early, as it was a 6:30am get up for the mornings dive.

Continental breakfast was included each morning, so we had a bite to eat and walked downstairs to analyse our nitrox tanks and set up. The dive brief was very informative. The weather forecast was not ideal to say the least… 15-20 knot winds and a 1.5m swell, not for the faint hearted!! The sun was out though, that is always promising.

map yongala

We loaded the trailer and got a lift to the beach for the launch, it was a quick 5 min drive. Once onboard the Yongala Express we took our seats and held on for a bumby 35 minute ride to the site, a bit of ACDC for the ride out was very appropriate. There were 8 of us in the Scuba World crew and 5 others, plus dive guides and skipper.

Once we arrived the boat crew set up the lines and conducted a current check. Current was less than 1/2 knot, and the water looked extremely blue!! We geared up, entered the water, and descended the line. We began our dive at the stern, visibility was 15-20 meters and water temp was 23C. We were greeted by a school of 200 or more barracuda, and about 10 of the biggest Giant Trevally’s (GTs) I have ever seen! The coral on the wreck is plentiful and healthy to say the least.

We made our way to the bow swimming between 15m and 28m. We were greeted with 2 turtles on the way and a large blotched fantail ray in the sand.

Once we reached the bow there were even more pelagic fish around the sand and under the bow. A friendly sea snake was slithering along the bottom and was very happy to pose for the camera!

snake

As we made our way back to the stern, we saw two massive groupers hanging off the wreck in the distance. One was 1.5m and other was 2m long.

cod

Two blotched fan tail rays were being friendly and swam right past us, swimming effortlessly along the port side.

2 rays

A 2.5m oceanic black tip shark cruised past, along with another massive school of pelagics. 15-20 Bat fish were enjoying the cleaning station along with another 5 gts.

Small, colourful damsel fish in their thousands were darting in and out of the wreck taking cover from tunas, gts, mackerel, kingfish, and trevally. It was a feeding frenzy!

red-fish

This was not your typical wreck dive. It is literally like being in an aquarium. Every dive on the Yongala brings something different.

We completed our surface interval and jumped in for dive 2. The only downside about the Yongala is penetration is NOT ALLOWED. There is a $5000 fine for any diver caught entering the ship.

alan

We arrived back on land around 1:30pm, washed our dive gear and sat down for a complimentary BBQ lunch back at the dive shop. The whole group had so much to talk about over lunch. We had never seen so much marine life on one dive site.

We headed into Ayr (18km) on Saturday night to watch the Wallabies vs the All Blacks, and grab a feed. Unfortunately the wallabies got smashed by the kiwis. We were back at the dive shop around 9pm and in bed, ready for another fantastic day of diving!!

Sunday dished out similar conditions as Saturday. The wind had dropped off slightly, and the swell was much the same. Once again, marine life everywhere!! Snakes, eels, pelagic fish in their hundreds, rays, sharks, groupers, etc etc….

If you have not dived the Yongala, make sure you do it!! Best time time of the year is August and September. Summer is not ideal due to strong winds and potential cyclones.

We stayed the night in Townsville on Sunday, ready for our flight back to Brisbane on Monday morning.

Jump online and book with Yongala Dive in Ayr. These guys run a great operation!

I will show my video at the October social! This is one you won’t want to miss!

Thanks to Ray, Lynne, Peter, Damien, Jeremy, Ian, and Alan. It was a great weekend away!

Mike