Ships graveyards

Approximately 800 shipwrecks are known to be resting at the bottom of South Australia's waters. More than 70 of these wrecks are classed as graveyard vessels and have been deliberately abandoned around the state's coast and waterways.

The vessels abandoned at these graveyards tell the history of shipbuilding from the 1850s to the 1960s and represent the diversity of vessels which worked South Australian waters during that time. From majestic windjammers, steamships and motor vessels that travelled international waters, to coastal traders, fishing boats, ferries, tugs, dredges and barges.

Today these deliberately scuttled vessels lie in various states of repair. While a rotting keel or rusting plates are all that remain of a few, other vessels are largely intact. Many have been abandoned on muddy shores and can be viewed by land, kayak or small boat. Other locations are easily accessible to recreational divers.

The earliest verified South Australian abandonment is the Seminole at Garden Island in 1909, although the possible location of the wooden ship Kadina, in Angas Inlet, may date to 1879. The most recent scuttling was the ex-HMAS Hobart in Yankalilla Bay in 2002.

Many of the ships' graveyard sites contain one or two vessels while others contain a number of vessels. The largest and most diverse graveyards in Australia are in the Port Adelaide Ships' Graveyards, which are home to at least 40 vessels over five sites.

Evidence suggests there are more ships' graveyards (59kb pdf) that lay in the depths of South Australian waters just waiting to be discovered.

Not all abandoned vessels end their days in ships' graveyards - find out about the many other alternate endings for these unused vessels (83kb pdf).

More information about protecting shipwrecks:

Search the location of South Australia's shipwrecks with NatureMaps' interactive online mapping.