SS Yongala

The SS Yongala is one of Australia's best-known ghost ships. The final voyage was SS Yongala’s 99th. It started on the 14th of March 1911 under the command of Captain William Knight. The appealing vessel left Melbourne, reached Brisbane on the 20th of March and Mackay on the 23rd. When it left the port at Mackay it was carrying 49 passengers and 73 members of the crew. It was then when the ship was last seen; SS Yongala was reported as missing on the 26th March 1911. Even if the government offered a substantial sum for information leading to the discovery of the ship, since nobody knew where it went missing. At that time £1,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of the ship was offered by the Queensland government, but this was withdrawn after no useful information came forward.

SS Yongala was a steel passenger and freight steamer built by Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd in Newcastle upon Tyne, England to special survey for the Adelaide Steamship Company, at a cost of £102,000. She was launched on 29 April 1903, and was registered in Adelaide. The vessel was named after the small town of Yongala in South Australia, a word from the Nadjuri language which meant "good water". On 14 March 1911, under the command of Captain William Knight, Yongala embarked on her 99th voyage in Australian waters. She left Melbourne with 72 passengers, heading for Brisbane, where she arrived on 20 March. On 23rd March, a harbour inspection found Yongala to be "in excellent trim", and she sailed for Mackay. Shortly before the vessel left sight of land at Mackay, a telegram was received by the Flat Top signal station warning of a tropical cyclone between Townsville and Mackay. Flag and wireless signals from the station prompted several ships to take refuge at Mackay, but Yongala did not see the flags, and was yet to be fitted with wireless equipment.
SS Yongala

Following the disappearance of Yongala, stories began to surface about a ghost ship, exactly resembling the Yongala, being frequently seen moving in the distance in seas between Bowen and Townsville. In 1943, a minesweeper fouled on what was then thought to be a shoal, eleven miles east of Cape Bowling Green. The captain marked on his chart an obstruction in about thirteen fathoms (24 m), dead on the track of vessels bound for Townsville.

The SS Yongala wreck was not discovered until 1947. After World War II the wreck was discovered at approximately 30 meters within the Central section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It was found washed up on beaches from Hinchinbrook Island to Bowen, but there was no sign of those aboard. The only body found was of the racehorse Moonshine, which washed up at the mouth of Gordon Creek. The bottom of the ship was ripped and so SS Yongala became an artificial reef, a unique habitat for marine life.

Several theories were offered for the ship's disappearance. Some speculated that Yongala had fallen victim to the cyclone; the high winds would have come from perpendicular to the ship's course and overpowered the vessel. Others thought she had grounded on a submerged reef between Flinders Passage and Keeper Reef, run into Nares Rock, or struck Cape Upstart.

Soul Searchers Paranormal Magazine Vol. 7 January 2013: "Haunted Australian Shipwrecks"

Pic Source:
Soul Searchers Paranormal magazine Vol. 7 January 2013: "Haunted Australian Shipwrecks" page 7

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