Divers’ Accommodation in Cairns, North Queensland can be hard to find if you want something decent. Like a home from home on the edge of a rain forest for example. Our holiday rentals at Wanggulay could suit you if you want somewhere to base yourself near Cairns. Then you could take a charter boat into the warm Coral Sea, and dive the great barrier reef before going after wrecks. You’ll find myriads of fishes, sponges, corals, and crustaceans out there each one lovelier than the last.
The Star Attractions of Our Divers’ Accommodation in Cairns
We’ll get to talking about the SS Yongala off Cape Bowling Green, and the Singapore and the Llewellyn off Keswick Island in a moment. First please allow me to introduce you to our holiday rentals we call Wanggulay, and Wanggulay Too. These are Bali-style timbered beauties we finished and furnished to 5 Star luxury accommodation standards. Here is an indication of what you may expect when you spend a week in the finest divers’ accommodation in Cairns.
Diving the SS Yongala Near Townsville South Of Cairns
The steamship SS Yongala lies just off the Cape Bowling Green sand spit. Her upper-works are about 16 metres below the surface. She was a steel passenger and cargo steamer built in Newcastle on Tyne, and launched in 1903. The word ‘Yongala’ means ‘good water’ in the local Nadjuri language. At 3,664 tons with a length of 107 meters and a triple expansion engine. She was thought capable of taking whatever the Coral Sea threw at her. However on 23 March, 1911 her 15.8 knots were insufficient to escape the cyclone bearing down on her in full fury.
The SS Yongala steamed to Australia after her commissioning. Where she provided an interconnecting service between Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. She was the first vessel to sail directly from Freemantle to Brisbane bearing valuable cargo in refrigeration rooms. The generator also gave light throughout the vessel at night. She was a state of art vessel with a fine reputation for reliable service her clients sought after.
The Last Voyage of the SS Yongala Ends Tragically
On 14 March, 1911 Captain William Knight set sail from Melbourne to Brisbane with general cargo and 72 passengers. Shortly after the disaster nine days later, a local newspaper described him as having “A fine record of service on the Australian coast. He was a master of the old school, and one who thoroughly understood his business.”
Yongala stopped to transfer passengers and cargo at Brisbane and McKay Then Captain Knight set sail for Townsville with 49 passengers, 73 crew, and 617 tons of cargo in the lower hold. Shortly afterwards a cyclone warning went out but his ship did not have radio equipment. Nobody must have noticed the warning flags.
The Townsville harbour master was unconcerned when SS Yongala became overdue. In fact he only listed the ship as missing two days later. He assumed she had found shelter elsewhere. Search parties found wreckage had washed up at Cape Bowing Green and at Cleveland Bay, but that was all barring a dead racehorse. They found not a trace of the 49 passengers and 73 crew. The general consensus was the cyclone overpowered her and she succumbed. He final resting place is at 19°18′15.9″S 147°37′31. The diving fraternity classify her as ‘one of the largest, best-preserved shipwrecks of Queensland’s seas’.
Keswick Island Wrecks 34 Kilometers from Your Divers’ Accommodation in Cairns
Keswick Island is directly east of McKay, SS Yongala’s last port of call, at coordinates 20.9089° S, 149.4059° E. It is a classic ‘desert island’ complete with pristine forests, golden deserted beaches, unspoiled coral reefs, and a small permanent population of around one hundred. The best way to get there is to fly south to McKay, and then take a short plane flight or private boat ride. The climate is distinctly temperate, with seawater a steady 20 °C in winter rising to 26 °C in the warmest months.
Keswick Island has two major shipwrecks a few minutes away by boat. These are the sail-assisted screw steamer The Singapore, and the smaller coastal steamer The Llewellyn. The Singapore was heading from Hong Kong to Sydney when she struck a rock in 1877. No lives were lost when the 87 meter long vessel with a beam of 10 meters went down. She provides amazing dives under the watchful stares of magnificent turtles and kaleidoscopically coloured fish.
The much smaller Llewellyn vanished in a gale in 1919 en route from Rockhampton and Bowen. Searchers only found a little wreckage washed up on small islands. In 1997, a group of divers stumbled over her in the course of a dream dive that is the stuff of legend. They found Llewellyn lying off Keswick Island sitting on the bottom upright, “exactly if she’d been steaming along on the surface” but overgrown with coral.
Divers’ Accommodation in Cairns Just Perfect After Exploring Shipwrecks
After an exhilarating dive in the warm Coral Sea exploring shipwrecks, come back to Wanggulay where your relaxing holiday begins. We have two holiday rentals nearby each other, so we can double up and accommodate large parties. You and your family, or your mates, will find yourselves close to all the famous Cairns attractions. We are also not far from Port Douglas, where the best charters depart for the Great Coral Reef.
Children find a wealth of healthy, outdoor entertainment in Cairns, while for adults the restaurants and nightlife are about as good as anything you will find in a big city. It’s no wonder people flock to Cairns from all over the world with all this going on. We located ourselves discreetly where the city merges into the rain forest. Wanggulay is a picture-perfect place to base yourself in North Queensland.