Magnetic Island’s forgotten shipwrecks have untapped tourism potential (photo)


Most divers will have heard of the wreck of the Yongala off the coast of north Queensland — it is one of the world’s top dive sites.

But few know that dotted around Magnetic Island, just 70km north, there are another 20 shipwrecks that have great tourism potential that has remained largely untapped.

One of those is the SS City of Adelaide which ran aground at Cockle Bay in 1916 while being transported after sale.

Just 300m offshore, it’s possible to wade out to the wreck during a low tide — however few visit it.

“There was no loss of life and therefore it has no newsworthy factor, unlike the Yongala,” said Magnetic Museum’s Zanita Davies.

Graceful craft’s history of disaster

Under full sail the City of Adelaide was said to be as beautiful as a bird in flight in her heyday.

The 80-meter vessel was constructed in 1864 in Glasgow and spent many years as a passenger ship before she was converted to a coal storage vessel in 1902.

In 1912 the coal caught fire and the City of Adelaide burned for two days.

Three years after the fire, a Magnetic Island businessman named George Butler purchased the ship with a plan to refit her as accommodation for tourists, or as a breakwater in Picnic Bay.

It was en route to her new home that she ran aground in Cockle Bay.

Ms Davies said as time went on, locals used the ship as a changing room when coming to swim around the wreck or collect the oysters that grew on her sides.

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