Rockingham Wreck Trail
The Rockingham Wreck Trail is one of Perth's busiest dive sites, located off Churchill Park on the Rockingham foreshore the site is adjacent to a grassed area for kitting up with adequate nearby parking. The site itself consists of a number of scuttled wrecks from small motor vessels and aircraft to chicken coops, toilets and tyre piles all located between depths of 10 and 17 metres. The easy entry, sloping descent and protection in most wind conditions make the site popular with diving schools and local divers. Visibilty on the site is generally low, for diving in the best conditions it is favourable to beat the weekend rush.
The Rockingham wreck trail first took shape around 1987 when Malibu Dive opened its doors across from Churchill Park. In 1985 the MV Petrel was scuttled about 1 kilometre east of the Rockingham Jetty. The Petrel was a 15 metre long steam tug built in 1895 in Albany and was purposely sunk to form an artificial reef. The Petrel was soon joined by a ferrocement yacht and a smaller vessel. Over the years aircraft, swingsets and even chicken coops have appeared on the seafloor adjacent to the now closed dive shop to form the Rockingham Wreck Trail. Signage at the site lists the wrecks of the MV Petrel, The "Target" sunk in 1991, "Lunasea" sunk in 1996 and the "Titanic" sunk in 1998. Reports indicate that the wrecks that are no longer visible were deteriorated and buried during storms in the mid 2000's.
The wreck trail is located immediately opposite Churchill Park on the Rockingham foreshore. Rockingham Beach Road runs along the length of Churchill Park and the carpark at the intersection of Flinders Lane provides the best parking for divers looking to access the trail, it is however, quite busy and alternative parking can be used along the the length of Rockingham Beach Road. Both locations provide an excellent area for kitting up with shade and grassed areas immediately adjacent to parking. The sphere located at the Flinders Lane carpark pictured above is the most notable feature for referencing an entry point for the dive site.
Maintenence Team and mapping:
Maintaining the wreck trail over the years since Bell SCUBA shut its doors has been relied upon by local divers taking ownership over the site for the local diving community. Since early 2022 local divers Marc Mason and Grant Pretorius have gathered a group of local divers dedicated to mapping, maintaining and creating trails to the wrecks for easy navigation for the site. Each season after winter storms have wreaked havoc on the site the team organise social maintenance dives to get the trail ready for the coming dive season and Perth dive community. Willing volunteers or divers wishing to contribute can join the Facebook group Rockingham Wreck Trail.
Current mapping of the Wreck Trail, Feb 2022. Credit: Marc Mason and RWT maintenance team.
The site: The map above by Marc Mason and the trail maintenance team provides the most current up to date layout of the trail and the interconnecting pole and line trails leading to the wrecks. The major wrecks of the site are all marked with surface floats by the maintenance team, a number of markers are permanent dive flags. The easiest entry is via the stairs either side of the sphere at Flinders Lane carpark. Directly in front of the sphere is the southernmost dive flag/float that is above the wreck of the MV Target, following the line northeast of the Target will take you to the Cessna plane wreck and then onto the Beechcraft King Air wreck all in depths around 12 metres. Taking the northwest line from the MV Target will take you into deeper water and usually slightly worse visibility and on to the wreck of the "Old Timer" at 17 metres. The northeast line from the Old Timer will take you to the chicken coop and flattened coop then south towards some tyres back in 12 metres and then the Beechcraft plane wreck. Conveniently the team have installed lines south of the Target and plane wrecks to the 6 metre mark for deco stops before ascending into the shallow water adjacent the entry point.
For diving conditions, the site is generally protected from most wind directions except from the north and northwest, visibility on the site averages about 5 metres but due to the site's popularity, especially on weekends, it is beneficial to dive before the crowds arrive and disturb the sediments on the seafloor. The site also receives reports most winters of visibility in excess of 10 metres as water temps cool and Cockburn Sound gets a flush from northwest wind and currents. Generally swell heights do not affect diving conditions on the site but it would be expected with high swell outside of Cockburn Sound, currents would bring dirtier water into the area around the site.
Best wind conditions on the site
Wrecks of the Rockingham Wreck Trail
MV Target - Sunk 1991
Feature: 10 metre motor boat
Depth: 12 metres
Description: The southernmost wreck and the first stop if entering near the Flinders Lane carpark.
Feature: Motor Cruiser
Depth: 17 metres
Description: The deepest wreck of the Rockingham Wreck Trail located at the south west corner of the trail and the larger of the two boats
Feature: Underwater structure
Depth: 17 metres
Description: A steel upright standing chicken coop providing the perfect habitat for macro life and seahorses
Collapsed Chicken Coop
Feature: Flattened debris and tyres
Depth: 15 metres
Description: The flattened ruins of the former chicken coop, with some tyres near lines and pole trail.
Small Tyre Pile (Bogged down)
Feature: A tyre stack
Depth: 10 metres
Description: A small collection of tyres used to form an artificial reef and is the northern most feature of the trail
Beechcraft King Air - Sunk 1998
Depth: 12 metres
Description: A twin engine passenger plane with the tail removed and half buried at 12 metres
Cessna - Sunk 1999
Depth: 12 metres
Description: A smaller aircraft half buried and located between the MV Target and the Beechcraft King Air wrecks on the southern shallower line of the trail.
Large Tyre Pile
Feature: Tyre pile/artificial reef
Depth: 14 metres
Description: The largest tyre pile on the wreck trail rising 3 metres above the seafloor by about 6 metres across.