Ulidia

18/05/1893

GPS:  S 32° 03.309' / E 115° 37.794’ 

Location: Stragglers Reef

Site depth: 3-6 metres

Divable conditions: < 1m swell

Visibilty: 5-15 metres

Vessel: 3 masted Barque

Construction: Steel

Tons: 2,378 tons

Vessel length: 91 metres

Wreck event: Lost in bad weather

The site of the Ulidia is located on the inside of the reef at Stragglers, the vessel struck bow first and is facing to the north west with the stern facing towards the mainland in the south east of the site. The GPS position listed is for the stern section of the reef that is surrounded by sand, and the area makes for the best anchorage. It is best to approach from the east following the sand patches and paying attention to where the swell is breaking. The site was first dived by us in 2019 in a low swell just under 1 metre, the visibility in these conditions was excellent and the site had only moderate surge. Breakers still formed and broke in the areas listed on the map in low swell. On the occasions we've dived Stragglers Reef in a swell over 1.5 metres, the area surrounding the reef has had quite average visibility and the shallow areas had undivable surge. The depth of the site maxs out at 6 metres making it almost snorkel depths but the extensive site made for a great dive in the conditions, with lots of the features of the iron wreck easily distinguishable.

The Ulidia had first grounded in Bunbury in February 1893 while unloading railway irons resulting in the Captain having his qualification suspended for 12 months. A replacement master was in command of the ship two months later when it attempted to depart Gage Roads at Fremantle after taking on a ballast cargo of sand from Garden Island. The Ulidia was to be chartered in Sydney and the contracted date to commence work forced the Captain to depart in less than favourable conditions after already waiting a number of days for the weather to improve. The vessel weighed anchor and sailed north to clear Rottnest Island however the wind direction shifted north forcing the vessel to tack to gain the favour of the wind. When it could not come around the compass enough to avoid the nearing breakers the anchor was let go to halt the vessel. The Ulidia's anchor chain let go with almost 200 metres of chain out and before the port anchor could be readied the vessel was hard up against the inside of Stragglers Reef. Once the hull was holed it quickly filled with water and some of the crew were evacuated. Two rescue boats left Fremantle Harbour to render assistance, the Ulidia was stripped of its most valuable salvage and was declared a wreck when it could not be towed free from its final location on the reef.