How did the Tangalooma Wrecks get there?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: November 8, 2020

Reading time: 3 mins

Found along the seashore of Moreton Island a cluster of fifteen marooned ships can be seen half-submerged in the sapphire waters.

This iconic sight is known as the Tangalooma Wrecks, a unique feature to Moreton island, and one of the biggest tourist attractions around. However, you may be wondering how these fifteen ships landed here, with many first thinking it was a possibly a bad storm that caused the shipwreck. However, what is interesting about these submerged ships is that they were all sunk deliberately

History of the Tangalooma Wrecks

Back in the 60s, the locals of Moreton Island ask the officials for a harbour to be built. As due to the constant currents of the shallow shores, small boats found it hard to dock around the region. It was decided to sink fifteen junk ships along the sandbank to form a break wall, providing a safe anchorage for the boats. Due to the unique feature of the sunken boats, the island’s harbour solution became an instant tourist attraction. With the crystal clear waters contrasting beautifully with these rusting metal machines. After a few years, the submerged sections of the boat have even blended with the natural wildlife, with corals, sea moss, and a number of sea animals living within the rusting boats, with the dark inside of the boats being a safe region to retreat when predators approach. The name ‘Tangalooma’ actually translates to ‘where fish gather’, making it the perfect spot to see the local wildlife.

How You Can See the Tangalooma Wrecks

  • Snorkel

    The depth of the water ranges from 12-27 metres, depending on the boat and region of the wrecks, making for a perfect snorkel spot to enjoy! Simply swim around each boat and see how the rusting metal has blended with the marine ecosystem hidden under the water’s surface. The local animals of the region are used to snorkellers and are quite friendly when people approach. See the tropical fish whiz in and out of the boat, and the unique creatures such as the sea turtles or dugong roam about!

  • Sea Scooter

    Due to the shallow shores of the wrecks, scuba diving isn’t offered. Instead, you can enjoy the sea scooter, which lets zoom through the water with barely any effort. Simply grab on to the handles and the contraption will pull you through the water, letting you see the fabulous wildlife hidden about the seafloor. Available in both adult and child sizes, anyone can have a go on this unforgettable sea experience!

  • Boat or Kayak

    If you aren’t big on getting wet, you can still see the wrecks from the water’s surface. Simply hop on a small boat tour or paddle out on a kayak, roaming around the boats to see the half-submerged attraction. If you are on a kayak, you can even jump into the water and swim around for a bit before hopping back on to paddle further around, drying off in the kayak from the beaming sun. The best boat tours are during the sunset and night. With the guide illuminate the sea life, attracting the fish by way of LED lights.

Related article: Dolphins and Sand Dunes at Tangalooma Resort

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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