The Ningaloo Reef is the world's largest fringing coral reef, stretching for 280 kilometres from Quobba to North West Cape in the Gascoyne Region of Western Australia. Since the early 17th century trading vessels have skirted along the cape as they sailed north up the coast of Western Australia, initially Point Cloates and the Exmouth peninsular was charted as an island and was only discovered to be mainland Australia in 1819 by Phillip Parker King who charted the southern reaches of Exmouth Gulf. Numerous wrecks have been discovered off the reef over the last three centuries mainly concentrated around the area of Point Cloates and north of Coral Bay. Most discovered wrecks are trading barques or more modern steam freighters however countless undiscovered wrecks are spread across the whole length of the reef, from lost pearling luggers, a World War II submarine chaser, 19th century sailing vessels and aircraft undiscovered in the Gulf from military operations during the World War II era.
In Norwegian Bay lays the remains of a once successful whaling station and offshore lay lost barges and whale chasers.
Located on the northern reefs of the Jane's Bay channel, the Rapid sits in only four metres of water, all that remains exposed on the site are the two main anchors laying on the ocean floor. The Rapid was an American trader that was wrecked and burnt to the waterline by her crew.
Located on the outside of the reef, offshore from the ruins of the Point Cloates lighthouse, the Benan is one of the most attractive wreck sites to dive off the Ningaloo coast. It is also one of the hardest sites to reach and requires perfect conditions to visit the site
The Fin lays partly submerged in shallow water 4 miles offshore from the whaling station ruins. The fin makes for an excellent snorkel site in crystal clear water inside the Norwegian Bay sanctuary zone.
The Zvir is one of the cleanest and most impressive wreck sites on the West Australian coast. The still upright propellor and huge engine block and boilers on site make for a great dive, the site needs low swell and good conditions which usually results in great vis on the site.
The largest wreck on the Ningaloo Reef, the Japanese owned freighter sits in 8 metres of water out from Point Billie and South Lefroy Bay. If camping on Ningaloo Station, the Chofuku Maru is one of the easily accessible sites near Point Cloates however, being outside the breakers on the outer reef it is another site that is best dived in low swell.
The most northern wreck on the Ningaloo Reef, the Mildura lays a few hundred metres off Point Murat partially submerged and usually awash with swells that roll across Lighthouse Bay to the south west. Despite over a century of swell the wreckage still remains upright and makes an interesting snorkel.Currents can be experienced over the site and snorkelling should be timed with the slack water of tide changes.
Other wreck sites with little remains on the Ningaloo Reef
The Emma was wrecked near the entrance to North Passage at Coral Bay, little remains of the wooden vessel that wrecked in 1868. The site lays in a metre of water at low tide and has breakers over the site in all but the lowest swell. A difficult and unsafe site to access.
The Perth was wrecked off Point Cloates in 1887, a very difficult site to access on the shallow reef top with the breakers to the west. Most of the wreckage lays in a foot of water and in large swells the site has white water rushing over the site. Given the shallow reef surrounding the wreck it is not possible to get a boat within 300 metres of the wreckage.
In the pipeline:
Carnarvon - Korean Star
Ningaloo Station - Stefano