Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site
Home Contact Me Sydney Reef Dive Sites Sydney Shipwrecks NSW Dive Sites Australian Dive Sites Overseas Dive Sites Dive Accidents and Incidents My Yachting Adventures 4WD Trips Weather Search 29 May 2024 12:46

About Me
My Diving
Web Links - Dive Clubs
St George Scuba Club
Some of my Best Photos
Contact Me

Dive Sites
Sydney Reef Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwrecks
Sydney Dive Visibility, Swell and Temps
Kelly Talking on ABC Sydney about Shipwrecks
NSW Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwreck Summary
NSW Shipwreck GPS/Marks
Australian Dive Sites
Overseas Dive Sites
Aircraft I have Dived
Old Bottles
Free Shipwreck Books

Dive Related Equipment
Shearwater Predator and Heinrichs Weikamp OSTC 2N
Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers
Apollo AV1 Underwater Scooter
Bauer Compressor
DIY Oxygen Stick - Nitrox
GoPro HD Hero Video Camera
My Camera Setup
Purchase of New Dive Boat
My Dive Boat - Mak Cat
My Old Dive Boat - Le Scat
My Dive Gear
GPS and Diving
Make Your Own Car Tank Rack

Marine Life
Rarer Sydney Marine Life
Bare Island Pygmy Pipe Horses
Bare Island Sea Horses
Bare Island Nudibranchs
Bare Island Marine Life
Encounter with Southern Right Whale and Calf

Other Dive Info
How Weather Affects Diving in Sydney
Visibility and Wave Averages in Sydney
Waves and Diving
Diving Weather and Sea Conditions
Tide Tables
Dive Accidents and Incidents
Dive Book Reviews
Site Map
Noel Hitchins 1951-2005
Lloyd Bridges - Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt
My Yachting Adventures
Below is a list of links to the main pages about my yacht, Catlypso and My Yachting Adventures:
  • Purchase of Catlypso
  • Details about Catlypso
  • Cleaning/Repairing Catlypso
  • My Yachting Adventures.
  • Login


    Forgotten your password?
    Request a new one here.
    Michael's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of my Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
    Home Brewing
    Click here for an article about Home Brewing.
    Sydney Dive Site Hints
    "Port Jackson sharks come into the shallows in August and September"
    SS Myola
    The SS Myola was a collier built at Middlesborough in the UK by Smith's Dock Company Limited for Howard Smith. The new ship was 54 metres long, almost 9 metres wide and powered by a triple expansion steam engine of 150 hp. She was launched sometime in 1913 and was finished in October 1913.

    The two coal powered scotch boilers provided steam to enable the ship to make 12 knots. The ship was quite large for a collier of this era, much larger, for example, than the SS Undola which plied the run from the southern coalfields to Sydney but a little smaller than the SS Tuggerah. The Myola also had two masts and could use the sails to gain an extra knot or two in the right winds.

    On 6 November 1913 she started the voyage to Sydney arriving on 7 January 1914 via the Suez Canal. The Myola was put on the Newcastle/Sydney run and does not appear to have had any major incidents. In January 1919 she had a refit and was declared in good condition. At this time the vessel was owned by Australian Steamship Limited.

    At 8.20 pm on 31 March 1919 the SS Myola left Sydney for Newcastle arriving at 3 am the next morning. It was under the command of a temporary captain and crew as the whole of the regular crew were in quarantine. One of the crew had contracted influenza (a deadly disease which killed millions upon millions all around the world after the Great War) so all the crew had been placed in quarantine. This was the first return trip to Newcastle for the crew and captain.

    The ship was loaded with 675 tons of coal destined for the North Shore Gas Company and a Shipping Inspector who went aboard later stated that the ship was not overloaded. At 5 pm on 1 April 1919 the SS Myola left Newcastle for Sydney. The weather was not very good and there was a 30 mph south-easterly blowing creating heavy seas. The ship was under the control of the Master, Captain Higgins and the Second Officer E.J. Casey till 10 pm when the Chief Officer James Robertson (of Campsie) relieved them. It was later reported that the Second Engineer A. McNicholl remarked to the Chief Engineer I. McCanish about this time that the ship had a list to port. However, they did not consider it serious enough to report this to the Master. At 10.30 pm (or perhaps 10 pm) the fireman, E. G. Roberts, reported water had been entering the boiler room, perhaps for 30 minutes. It is reported that the Chief Officer ordered the engines to be made slow.

    The Myola
    A photo of the SS Myola

    Just after midnight (perhaps 12.20 am) on 2 April 1919 the Myola was off Long Reef on Sydney's northern beaches. The ship suddenly listed to port then starboards and back to port again. The actions of the skipper was unable to save the Myola and she gradually went over and started to sink, port side first. The crew left their posts with the engine still running flat out and were unable to launch the lifeboats, all they could do was undo the lashings. The time was about 12.30 am.

    A little over eight minutes later the Myola disappeared from sight, although it was reported that the crew of the SS South Bulli, following about four miles behind the Myola, saw distress flares at about 12.45 am. All of the 15 crew appears to have got off the ship. Once in the water, the Chief Officer Robertson reported that he heard some calls and swimming away from the ship, found three of the crew already in one of the lifeboats. They soon found two more men sitting on an upturned boat and pulled them aboard. It is reported in the 3 April 1919 edition of the Daily Telegraph that they found another man as well, giving a total of seven on board the lifeboat, but it also reports that one man, the Second Engineer, A. McNicholl, was pulled aboard the South Bulli directly from the water (see next paragraph as well).

    About 30 minutes later at 1 am, the crew of the SS South Bulli, making passage from Catherine Hill Bay to Sydney, heard calls for help from the water. The skipper of the South Bulli, Captain E. Tucker, stopped and pulled the men aboard from the lifeboat. They launched their own boat and immediately they found wreckage and four men clinging to it. Among these was the skipper. There is obviously an error in the Telegraph's reporting as the numbers add up to 12 overall but only 11 survived. They spent some time looking for further survivors but none were seen.

    The survivors were taken to Sydney by the SS South Bulli. Assistant Steward Alfred Cove, not even 20 years old, had already been shipwreck once before. He had been torpedoed in the Great War when on the Galway Castle. Even on board the South Bulli some of the crew were experienced with shipwrecks. For the South Bulli's Second Mate, T.R. Richardson, he had been sunk during the War when the Moorina in the Mediterranean was shelled by a German U boat. He was then captured and spent five months as a prisoner of the Senussi Arabs before being rescued in a dramatic raid.

    For Thorvald Thomsen, one of the regular crew of the Myola, luck was on his side. He was not on the ship because of the influenza quarantine. He soon joined another vessel, the SS Tuggerah where he was to be one of eleven survivors when she sank only a few weeks later and almost 30 years later one of only two survivors of the sinking of the SS Bombo.

    The Myola
    The bell of the SS Myola
    Photo by Peter Fields
    The missing men from the SS Myola were:

  • D. Cooper - Cook
  • ? Nelson - Able Seaman
  • W. Carroll - Fireman
  • H. Churchill - Able Seaman
  • Those rescued were:

  • Captain Higgins - Master
  • A. James Robertson - Chief Officer
  • E. J. Casey - Second Officer
  • I. McCanish - Chief Engineer
  • A. McNicholl - Second Engineer
  • Alfred Cove - Assistant Steward
  • A. Joyce - Donkeyman
  • G. Weir - Bosun
  • Nicholas Cost - Able Seaman
  • E. Roberts - Fireman
  • A. Ferguson - Fireman
  • The famous pilot steamer, the Captain Cook was sent to the area to search for the missing crew. They found three lifeboats, two were still on the water and these were recovered. The third was found on Mona Vale Beach, smashed up. It was left there. Other wreckage was sighted but no signs of the missing men was found.

    A Preliminary Inquiry into the sinking was started at 11 am on 3 April 1919 under Captain Fergus Cumming, Superintendent of Navigation. Captain Cumming found that "...I consider that loose water had in some manner entered the ship and when she listed over to port more water entered the vessel in great volume through the ventilator and the engine room door causing her to list more until she foundered". He receommended that there should be a Court of Marine Inquiry but I am unaware if this was held.

    Until 1994, the wreck of the SS Myola lay undiscovered. Over the more recent years, many people had looked for the wreck but to no avail. In August 1985, Peter Fields and John Riley started searching for the wreck of the Myola. Later that month John purchased a magnetometer and over the next three months they searched on and off for the wreck with no luck. They abandoned the search, but not the idea. In late May 1994 they resumed the search, with the first real searching taking place in early July. On the fourth day of this search they located the Myola.

    Myola Map
    A satellite photograph showing the location of the SS Myola
    Long Reef is the point at top

    They had located the Myola in just under 50 metres almost 6 kilometres off North Curl Curl and just under 5 kilometrs off Long Reef and a bit to the south. John and Peter released information that they had found the wreck at the 1994 Scuba Expo in Melbourne (held in July I recall) although the location was still secret. They continued to dive the wreck as they recorded it in detail. Many times we saw Peter's car and trailer at Rose Bay and the temptation to go out and find where they were was overwhelming. However, unlike many wreck divers, we have good principles!

    Finally, on 27 December 1994 the location of the wreck became public after they were seen on the wreck. In January numerous people were aware of its location but an extremely bad weekend of weather meant that it was not until the Australia Day Holiday (26 January 1995) that it was dived in quantity. I dived it two days later and was amazed at its intactness. Except for the bell, which had been removed by Peter and John with approval, everything was still on the wreck. Peter now has the bell in his house.

    To find the wreck, head out of Sydney Harbour and head to the north. The rough direction is just north of north-east. Its GPS Marks are 33° 46' 41"S 151° 21' 44"E (using AUS66 as datum - see my GPS Page for info on what to do if you use another datum). For more details, see the attached marks and the GPS and Marks Page. The wreck lies on a rocky reef and this makes it a bit harder to find than if it was on sand. As indicated, the depth is about 48 to 49 metres on the bottom and the boilers and engine sit up about two metres above the bottom. To the east of the wreck the depth gets to over 50 metres, so if you are in this area you need to go west a bit.

    Click to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlarge
    Western Mark
    Click to enlarge
    South-western Mark
    (Centrepoint Tower)
    Click to enlarge
    South-south-western Mark
    (a water tower)
    Click to enlarge
    North-western Mark
    Click to enlarge
    The wreck is facing south-south-west and like most real Sydney wrecks, the Myola lies on its port side, although the stern section has broken away from the rest of the wreck and sits upright. You will most likely anchor near the stern section.

    The first thing you will notice is that the propeller blade is broken. Of the four blades, one is almost completely missing, the second one almost as bad, the third is half broken and the final one is missing the end third. My guess is that this damage happened when the ship sank and the engine, (remember it was still running flat out when the ship sank), turned the prop over and it hit the rocky reef, breaking the blades. The rudder lies on the sea floor on the port side and the steering gear and steering engine are a bit further away.

    SS MyolaSS Myola
    A diagram of the SS Myola by John Riley
    John Riley Memorial Collection, Heritage Branch, OEH
    Click on diagram to see larger sized version
    A model of the Myola built by John Riley
    John Riley Memorial Collection - Heritage Branch, OEH

    The MyolaThe Myola
    A model of the stern of the SS Myola
    Built by John Riley
    A model of the boilers and middle section of the SS Myola
    Built by John Riley

    It would seem that the ship landed on its port side. I assume that this is because the engine was running and the torque of the engine caused the ship to go over onto its port side. One thing I have noticed is that most ships that have sunk that are on their sides are on their port sides (in fact, I cannot recall any on their starboard sides).

    At some time, the damage from the sinking and the normal wear and tear from corrosion meant that the ship broke up. One of these main breaks was in front of the engine, behind the boilers. When the hull broke here, the bottom-heavy engine area caused the stern to flip itself upright. However, the engine still lies over to port, connected to the drive shaft by the conrods.

    Myola PropMyola Condenser and Engine
    Kelly McFadyen to the west of the stern section
    Photo taken 23 April 2006
    The condenser, engine and prop of the Myola
    Photo taken 23 April 2006

    To the east of the engine there is the condenser (a series of tubes - see the top right photo) and the generator a bit further on. The first of the two boilers lies right near the main part of the wreck. The boilers are huge, as big as the boiler on the SS Tuggerah. The second boiler is about 15 metres away to the east, facing back towards the other boiler.

    In between the two boilers, but close by the first one, there used to be the engine room telegraph and some steam gauges. However, they were stolen some time after my first two dives on the wreck in 1995. There were also many portholes all over the wreck. Today there are none left visible on the wreck. The last one remained till about 2008 and was located under some wreckage but some miserable person used equipment to lift the wreckage and steal the port hole.

    Myola PropSteering quadrant and prop
    Kelly McFadyen and the prop of the Myola
    Photo taken 23 April 2006
    Andreas Thimm and the prop - the
    steering quadrant in foreground

    Only two metres shorter than the SS Tuggerah, the Myola covers a much larger area. The stern and the two boilers are the only parts that sit up as the hull has collapsed flat in front of the boiler. This is not a very interesting section of the wreck. If you swim right forward and after the flat sides of the hull you will see some bollards, the two anchors, the anchor pipes and a pile of chain. It is worth going up there to have a look but you will spend most time near the boilers, engine and prop. The hull of the ship was damaged on 4 September 2003 when huge seas (up to 8 metres) bent three largish sections up at right angles.

    Halfway back to the boiler, there is another bollard. Out to the east from here, about 5 metres or so there used to be the ship's steering pedestal, compass and telegraph. However, these items have also been stolen (on one dive in 1998 I found a pile of brass rings that someone had collected and hidden, awaiting another day when they could be removed. I took them and scattered them in selected parts of the wreck but they are now also stolen).

    The Myola's boilersOne of the Myola's anchors
    The Myola's boilers
    Photo taken 23 April 2006
    Andreas Thimm and one of the anchors of the Myola

    Since my first dive on the Myola, it has been stripped of nearly all its brass bits (portholes, telegraph etc) and damaged by crowbars. So much for responsible Sydney divers. However, till mid-2005 there were still some portholes on the wreck, I personally knew of two. One was stolen about June 2005! Despite this, the wreck is really worth diving.

    All my dives on the wreck have had good or very good visibility, with one in April 2006 having 35 metres visibility. Even if it is poor on the way down, it can be very clean on the bottom. Visibility averages 15 to 20 metres. In May 2003 I had a 2.5 to 3 metre bronze whaler shark come and examine us while doing decompression. It only hung around for a minute or so, longer than my buddies did who left the water as soon as it appeared!!

    Once again, only for the experienced deep diver.

    Visibility Summary:
    Very Good12
    Poor or Worse1


    Video shot on 1 December 2012 of a dive on the wreck with 15 metre visibility.


  • Myola - Sydney's Last Shipwreck by John Riley and Peter Fields
  • Many discussions with Peter Fields
  • The Vanished Fleet of the Sydney Coastline by Max Gleeson
  • Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2024
    Non-commercial use of an article or photograph is permitted with appropriate URL reference to this site.
    Dive shops, dive operators, publications and government departments cannot use anything without first seeking and receiving approval from Michael McFadyen.
    This web site has been wholly thought up, designed, constructed and funded for almost 30 years by Michael McFadyen without any help from the Australian Dive Industry.
    Website created 1996!