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Discover the shipwrecks of Wadjemup

Wadjemup / Rottnest Island has a long maritime history. And, over time, the island’s surrounding waters have become the resting place for over 13 unfortunate ships. 

Some have sunk in treacherous tides, unable to navigate Wadjemup’s coral reef system. Others have been caught adrift on the Western Australian tides, slowly making their way across from the mainland and coming to rest off Wadjemup’s coast. At least one has sunk due to a drunken skipper setting out on a misguided attempt to reach Bunbury.

While most of the vessels lie off the coast in deep water, plaques have been installed both on land and under the sea, providing details of each one of the wrecks. 

Intrepid explorers can hike around the island to find the landbound plaques. Alternatively, you can get up close and dive the shipwrecks.

Two of them, Uribes and Shark, lie just metres from shore, providing excellent snorkelling for those looking for a different environment to explore. Other wrecks can only be found by boat or by scuba diving offshore — but be aware that some of the locations are only suitable for experienced divers.

 

Keep an eye out for

Anchors from Mira Flores and City of York at the Visitor Centre

Snorkel the wreck of Shark at Henrietta Rocks

Seek out the individual plaques that tell you more about each vessel

Marine life that call the shipwrecks home

Where to find the Shipwrecks

The individual shipwrecks can be found all along Rottnest Island’s coast. So make sure you get a map of the island from the Visitor Centre, and then take the Quokka Coaches Island Explorer to the corresponding bus stop. If you’re feeling more adventurous, visitors can cycle all over the island and seek out the plaques.

The wreck that’s the easiest to find is Shark, which lies in shallow water just off Henrietta Rocks. You can get there by jumping on the Quokka Coaches Island Explorer and getting off at Stop 3. Alternatively, the Ngank Yira Bidi winds right past Henrietta Rocks, providing excellent views of the wreck.

Uribes can be found in shallow waters just metres off shore near Phillip Point, accessible from the Natural Jetty. Take the Quokka Coaches Island Explorer to Stop 4, or walk the 20 minutes south from Thomson Bay. 

A colourful history lies under the waves

Dating back to 1842, the first ship to make the Wadjemup coast its final resting place was Transit. The 124-ton wooden, two-masted schooner struck Duck Rock and sank off the island’s northern coast. Some, like City of York which ran aground in 1899, have taken their place in the naming of Wadjemup.  Two wrecks remain a mystery to this day, with unknown ships discovered in both Salmon Bay and City of York Bay.

And it’s not just ancient history. The Japanese tuna boat Kiryo Maru ran aground on its way to Fremantle in 1984, 50 metres offshore at Cathedral Rocks and has remained in place ever since.

To find out more about each of the individual shipwrecks surrounding the island, stop first at the Visitor Centre. Here you’ll find all the information you need to start your maritime trail. Then, take a quick walk to the Wadjemup Museum to learn more.

Learn more about Military & Maritime History

Frequently asked questions

An information flyer is available at the Visitor Centre, and the Wadjemup Museum features a wealth of information detailing the wrecks.

The wrecks of Shark and Uribes are easily accessible for snorkellers of all levels. These can be found just off the beach in reasonably shallow water. 

The rest of the wrecks are only visible underneath the water, so the best way to view them is by going on a scuba dive down to the vessels. 

Shipwreck, Wadjemup / Rottnest Island
Adventure awaits below the surface