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VILLALTA - 1897 

GPS: S 31° 17.900'

         E 115° 27.390'

Location: South of Seabird

Site depth: 3 metres

Divable conditions: <0.5m swell

Visibilty: 1-10 metres

Vessel: 3 Masted Barque

Construction: Steel

Tons: 860 tons

Wreck event: Wrecked and drifted ashore

The Villalta was wrecked just after midnight in February 1897 as it was sailing south for Fremantle in near gale force winds when it struck a reef three miles out to sea. As waves washed over the Villalta’s decks, the crew of 14 tried launching the lifeboat resulting in it soon being overturned in the breaking surf. As the crew tried to right the lifeboat, the Captain and a member of the crew perished to the violent ocean. The Villalta’s remaining crew walked overland to a nearby station leaving the Villalta to break apart on the reef as her cargo of timber began to pierce the riveted steel hull. Eventually, the abandoned vessel broke free of the reef and drifted to shore to its present-day location; two kilometres south of the township of Seabird. At low tide part of the Villatla’s bow is exposed above the surface, little remains of the 50 metre long sailing ship besides a winch, bollards, and sections of deck supports and iron framing all in around 3 metres of water.

Getting there:

The easiest access to the Villalta site is by following the track south of the Seabird township located at the end of McCormick Street. The track through the dunes is a four wheel drive only track that has sections of soft sand, outcrops of limestone rocks that need to be negotiated with high clearance and one soft sand hill when heading back towards the town. Follow the track for around 2.5-3 kilometres, a light tower will be visible in the distance along the track, the correct track will take you right past the tower and the wreck site is located at the bottom of the hill. The wreck is located directly adjacent to a small area to park on top of the first line of dunes and is only about 40 metres from the wreck. 

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Diving the Site:

The site can be a tricky site to dive, not only does it lay very close to the shore break on the beach, but it is also buried in varying depths of sand depending on the time of year. Usually, the best time for the wreckage to be exposed is after winter storms have scoured back the beaches. Unfortunately, winter is also the most unlikely times for low swell days as due to the Villaltas proximity to the shore break. Any swell over half a metre or so will turn the site into a churning mess of sand and weed and near zero visibility.

The wreck lays in around 2-3 metres of water and at low tide part of the bow can be seen protruding above the surface of the water. The site would be best suited to snorkeling, it has easy access to the site from the nearby parking spot and when exposed, has a small amount of wreckage still visible. To the north of the wreckage the bow can be seen still upright above the seafloor and south of the bow the ships bollards, winch and hull sections and supports are usually exposed above the sand.

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