Find out how you can explore South Australia’s naval history – under the sea

Find out how you can explore South Australia’s naval history – under the sea

Want to explore mar­itime his­to­ry and see abun­dant marine life? Vis­it the Ex-HMAS Hobart ship­wreck. Here’s where.

South Aus­tralia has some tru­ly amaz­ing nat­ur­al attrac­tions – both on land and under the sea.

The state’s net­work of marine parks and sanc­tu­ary zones are full of nat­ur­al won­ders to expe­ri­ence for those who like to throw on the scu­ba gear and explore the deep blue.

If you enjoy life under the water, the Rapid Head Sanc­tu­ary Zone with­in the Encounter Marine Park is a great place to vis­it, as it’s home to the spec­tac­u­lar Ex HMAS Hobart under­wa­ter shipwreck.

Here’s every­thing you need to know about the ves­sel and how you can see it for yourself.

His­to­ry of the vessel

Built in the US in 1965 for the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy, the Hobart is a 134-metre ex-navy guid­ed mis­sile destroyer. 

The ves­sel was decom­mis­sioned and gift­ed to the South Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment in 2000 and sunk in 2002 to cre­ate an arti­fi­cial reef. Eigh­teen years on, the arti­fi­cial struc­ture is now team­ing with marine life.

Haven for marine species

The wreck was recent­ly sur­veyed by the DEW Marine Sci­ence team to estab­lish a base­line inven­to­ry of the species now call­ing the wreck home.

The under­wa­ter sur­vey revealed that the wreck is now home to more than 50 species of fish includ­ing icon­ic species such as the blue dev­il and snapper.

The species liv­ing on this reef have reached impres­sive sizes, high­light­ing the effec­tive­ness of main­tain­ing the wreck as a sanc­tu­ary zone where no fish­ing is allowed. Ses­sile inver­te­brates are also thriv­ing, with cur­rents bring­ing in lots of food for these fil­ter feed­ing organisms.

But don’t just take our word for it – check out the video below filmed by Ocean Imag­ing and mar­vel at the ship’s struc­ture and marine inhabitants.

Div­ing on the Ex HMAS Hobart – Encounter Marine Park 

How to explore the site

To vis­it the site you’ll need to be an expe­ri­enced div­er as the wreck lies in 30 metres of water.

If you’ve nev­er dived before then get in con­tact with one of Adelaide’s lead­ing dive tour oper­a­tors, or if you’re already expe­ri­enced, find out when the next dive on the Hobart is happening.

You’ll also need a per­mit from Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SA before enter­ing into the 550-metre restrict­ed area around the wreck.

And don’t for­get – the site is pro­tect­ed so no fish­ing allowed!

Pro­tect­ing mar­itime heritage

South Aus­tralia has a rich mar­itime his­to­ry, with more than 800 ship­wrecks record­ed along the coast and inland waters.

Ship­wrecks pro­vide impor­tant insights into the state’s mar­itime his­to­ry and are havens for marine life. The remains of these ves­sels are also impor­tant edu­ca­tion, recre­ation and tourism assets.

SA’s ship­wrecks are a non-renew­able her­itage resource, mean­ing that once a wreck is dam­aged or dis­turbed, it can­not be repaired, and the his­toric and phys­i­cal val­ues are lost.

That’s why pro­tect­ing these his­toric wreck sites is crit­i­cal for the preser­va­tion of the state’s mar­itime her­itage and sur­round­ing marine environments. 

Love her­itage? Learn about some of the state’s more unusu­al her­itage sites with our sto­ry:7 her­itage places in SA you might not know about. If marine life is more your thing, check out this sto­ry:6 baby marine ani­mals you can see in South Aus­tralia.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living