Midwest- Seabird to Ningaloo
The mid west coast area from Seabird to Shark Bay contains some of Western Australia's richest maritime history. From the very first of the Dutch VOC wrecks with the wreck of the Batavia laying at the Abrolhos Islands and the Vergulde Draeck or "Gilt Dragon" laying between the coastal towns of Ledge Point and Seabird. After the early dutch wrecks, came the early 19th century whalers and colonial era barque shipwrecks that line the fringing coastal reefs dotting the entire mid west coast. The coast thrived after the 1960's as the coastal crayfishing industry developed and now small coastal towns stretch along the coast from Lancelin to Kalbarri. Each town has boat launching facilities and supplies making most of the coast accessible to divers.
The Villalta site is a shore dive located down a four-wheel drive track south of the coastal town of Seabird. The vessel was driven onto a reef during a gale in 1897, the vessel then dislodged itself and drifted ashore to its present location. The site can often be buried beneath beach sand and due to its proximity to the shore break, low swell is needed to make the dive enjoyable.
The Vergulde Draeck or "Gilt Dragon" is the third oldest known shipwreck in Australia's history. It was wrecked north of Seabird in 1656 and the fate of the 68 marooned crew remains one of Australia's greatest maritime mysteries. The wreck site is seldom dived due to its location under large breaking waves but it also remains one of the mid west coast's more spectacular dive sites with it's surrounding cave system.
The J P Webb was wrecked on its maiden voyage in 1951 2 miles off Ledge Point.
The self propelled barge ran up on Webb Reef and was quickly aground and could not be pulled off. The site sit's in just a few metres of water near breakers and is best suited in very low swell.
The Key Biscayne is likely Western Australia's premier and most unique dive wreck. The jack up oil rig sunk 9 miles off Ledge Point in 1983 while being towed down to Fremantle from the Northern Territory. The wreck sits at a depth ranging from 26 metres down to 42 metres in open unprotected waters. Calm fair weather is always a must for diving this site.
The Europa was a 3 masted barque that was wrecked off the Hill River, south of Jurien Bay. Another wreck that is seldom visited, but is one of the more interesting sites on the Mid West coast. The site ranges from 4 metres to 12 metres with a shattered cargo of broken bottles spread across the seafloor. Like all sites older than 75 years old it is fully protected by the historic shipwrecks act.
The wreck site lays between Favourite and Boullanger Islands just south of the starboard hand marker out of the bay. The engine block still stands upright breaking the surface.Due to the small size of the site and the lacking of visible wreck material the Lubra is better suited to a snorkel site.
The South Tomi was made infamous after one of the longest pursuits in the Royal Australian Navy's history. The vessel turned over to the city of Geraldton to be used as a dive attraction, it was sunk 3 miles out from the main harbour and provides one of Geraldtons most attractive dive sites away from the Abrolhos Islands.
The Batavia is likely Australia's most infamous story of shipwreck, mutiny and murder. The 1629 wreck site is Australia's second oldest known wreck and is located on Morning Reef in the Wallabi Group of the Abrolhos Islands around 50 miles north west of Geraldton.
The Hadda is located in shallow protected water near Beacon Island in the Wallabi Group of the Abrolhos Islands. The wreck was driven onto the reef from the north west in the middle of the night, little remians of the hull structure but scattered throughout the site lay numerous iron fittings and supports scattered among the surrounding coral gardens
Other wreck sites with little remains on the Midwest Coast.
The Cevantes shipwreck site sits just off the point at Cervantes and north east of Cervantes Island. Very little remains of the wreck and is located on a flat sandy seafloor, the wreckage consists of a few small planks of wood in 2 metres of water at S 30° 30.802' E 115° 03.004'
In the pipeline:
Shark Bay- Gudrun
Abrolhos islands - Pelsaert Group
Geraldton - Mayhill
Greenough - Stanford
Jurien Bay - Camberwarra