CurrajongOn the evening of 8 March 1910, the TSS Currajong entered Port Jackson and headed up the Harbour. As the Currajong neared Bradleys Head, the huge 6000 plus tons passenger liner, SS Wyreema, bound for Cairns approached from the west. As was later to be shown at the Marine Inquiry, the Wyreema was travelling on the wrong side of the channel and hit the Currajong amidships on the port side. The Currajong started sinking immediately and the helmsman, Hans Neilson, was killed.

Since the dive site is in the harbour’s main shipping channels it must be undertaken after Harbour officially closes down for the day.



This wreck is considered the most intact shipwreck in NSW (by John Riley) and "one of the foremost wreck dives in NSW" (by Max Gleeson). The wreck is the TSS Currajong, a collier that sank when run down by the SS Wyreema in 1910.

In 1875 the shipbuilding firm of T. Wingate and Company started construction of a vessel that was to be named TSS Marquis of Lorne. However, before she was finished she was renamed the TSS Victory but completed as TSS The Clarence. This indicates that the purchaser, the Clarence and New England Steam Navigation Company (CNESNC), had acquired the unfinished hull from another shipping company. This was probably because CNESNC had lost a ship, the Helen McGregor, on the Clarence River bar in March 1875 and urgently needed another vessel.


SS Wyreema
The Currajong is the middle vessel
I think Darling Harbour is in background
SS Wyreema

In August 1875 the new vessel was launched from the Whiteinch shipbuilding yards in Glasgow, Scotland. The 603 ton vessel, the TSS The Clarence, was a three masted steamer built to carry passengers and cargo on the North Coast of NSW run. The ship was 67.6 metres long and 9 metres wide. The ship was powered by twin two cylinder compound 250 hp steam engines (also built by Wingate) driving twin props.

The new ship left Greenock in Scotland on 12 October 1875. The skipper was Captain Wallace. It arrived in Sydney four days after Christmas 1875 and was lauded in the Sydney Morning Herald as being “judiciously fitted out for her intended trade.”

In 1883 CNESNC went broke and in March of the same year The Clarence was sold to the Australasian Steamship Navigation Company (ASNC) and in June was renamed TSS Currajong. The ship started on the Sydney to Rockhampton (Queensland) run, with calls at Gladstone, Bundaberg and Maryborough in Queensland and continued to mostly serve this route till 1886. Around this time ASNC started to have problems. Most of the ASNC fleet was sold to the Australasian Union Steamship Navigation Company in April 1887. After this, the Currajong was laid up in Lavender Bay in Sydney Harbour until she was sold to Mitchell and Woolcott-Waley in 1888. The ship was then converted to a collier to serve the company’s South Bulli mine.


TSS Currajong

In 1892 or 1893 the Currajong again changed owners. The Bellambi Coal Company purchased the vessel and used her to carry coal from the Illawarra area to Sydney. For 11 years the Currajong was incident free until 27 September 1899 when she ran down and sank the Lansdowne, a ketch carrying timber from the North Coast. This happened in the western channel of Sydney Harbour. The Lansdowne was later raised and repaired. The skipper of the Currajong was found by the Marine Board of NSW as being at fault. However, his master's certificate was not cancelled.

At 1 am on 4 April 1904 the Currajong collided with the paddle ferry Victoria opposite Circular Quay, causing damage to the ferry.

At 2 pm on Tuesday 8 March 1910, TSS Currajong left the Bellambi Wharf with a load of coal from the Illawarra. Just before 9 pm the same night, the Currajong entered Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) and headed up the Harbour towards the SS Riverina which was awaiting her load of coal. As the Currajong neared Bradleys Head, the huge (and brand new) 6,000 plus tons passenger liner, SS Wyreema, bound for Cairns approached from the west. As was later to be shown at the Marine Inquiry, the Wyreema was travelling on the wrong side of the channel and hit the Currajong amidships on the port side. The Currajong started sinking immediately and the helmsman, Hans Neilson, was killed.

Soon after the sinking, divers visited the wreck but she was not salvaged. However, the masts and funnel were removed as they were considered a shipping hazard. According to Max Gleeson, the wreck was blown up in the early 1980s, presumably to deepen the Harbour’s depth in this area.


Currajong Diagram
A diagram of the wreck of the
TSS Currajong

Courtesy of Scott Leimroth

The Currajong now lies 230 metres off Bradleys Head in 26 metres of water. Unfortunately, it also happens to lie in the main incoming shipping channel for Sydney Harbour. Every incoming ship and each Sydney bound Manly Ferry and Jet Cat passes right over the wreck (or over the area next to it).

As well, dozens of tourist ferries, private boats and yachts pass by Bradleys Head each hour. Many pass straight over the wreck or the area between the wreck and land. As can be imagined, this makes for a very difficult and potentially dangerous dive. I am not sure of the legalities of diving the Currajong (it is certainly illegal to do it from a boat).


Sonic Scan of the Harbour Sonic Scan of the Harbour
Sonic Scans of the TSS Currajong wreck shows how accurate Scott's diagram
Data collected by RESON SeaBat 8125 multibeam echosounder
Provided by Charles Brennan

I first did this wreck in December 1995 when Max Gleeson took me to the wreck. For doing this dive as a shore dive, start to the east of the bottom of the stairs and head out at 120° for about 220 to 230 metres. This will take about 10 minutes. If you do not strike the wreck (it faces almost straight on to Bradleys Head), once you hit 22 or 23 metres deep, you have gone too far so turn to your left and within 20 or 30 metres you should see the wreck. The depth actually comes up a bit as the sand has built up around the wreck for most of the length. I have more recently done this wreck using scooters, very easy to find then.

See the marks at left for more details about boat diving but remember the dangers and possible illegalities. GPS Reading is 33° 51' 24"S 151° 14' 52"E (note that all my GPS Readings are using AUS66 - if you use any other datum, you will need to convert the reading - see my GPS Page for more details)


TSS Currajong TSS Currajong
The bow of the TSS Currajong with Max Gleeson top right The bollards at the bow of the TSS Currajong

As I indicated above, the hull of the Currajong is almost completely intact and sits upright with the bow pointing straight towards Bradleys. The deck here is in 18 metres while under the bow the sand has been removed by the tidal currents and you can reach 23 metres or so. The Currajong is a fairly large wreck, almost 70 metres long and it takes a good seven minutes to swim slowly along its length, examining it briefly as you go.

At the stern, the depth of the deck is 22 metres and the sand under is 27 metres or so. The rudder is hard a’starboard but you cannot see the two props which are buried in the sand. Under here there are huge schools of jewfish, bream and luderick. Above the rudder, the poop deck sits up from the main deck level and is also full of huge bream and luderick. Returning along the wreck you pass the rear hold before encountering the bridge/engine area.


TSS Currajong TSS Currajong
The indentation caused by the SS Wyreema is clearly visible
- the hull is bottom left and continues top right
The bent back section of the hull is the bit to left
of the middle - the hull continues to the right

The higher structures are now gone but a fair bit of the lower cabin areas still remains fairly intact. You can swim partially into them but a huge volume of dead oysters has almost filled the rooms. In fact, the whole ship is covered in oyster shells, filling every hold and hole. As you swim aloing the deck, schools of yellowtail, bream and one-spot pullers swarm off the wreck onto the sand.

The donkey boiler is exposed in this area and in front of this there is another hold. Further up the wreck on the port side you can see the spot where the Wyreema rammed the Currajong. This is right on the forward hold. The hull is pushed right in and wraps wound from the stern area. A couple of large winches can be seen just in front of this hold and on top of the forecastle. You can look under the deck here but the clearance is only a foot or so.

This is an amazing wreck, but one that will only ever be experienced by a few divers due to its hazardous location. The visibility varies from a few centimetres to 10 metres or more. It is best done on an incoming tide, towards high tide.


TSS Currajong TSS Currajong
The hold in front of the indentation The donkey boiler

In summary, one of NSW’s best wreck dives but only for the experienced and brave.