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What happened to the SS Yongala?

The SS Yongala was an Australian passenger vessel  that sailed the east coast in the early 1900s, and is now a  famous diving wreck off the coast of Queensland, visited by over 10,000 people annually.

It functions as an artificial reef and over the years has grown an abundance of coral and has become its own ecosystem off the coast of Townsville. Although a well known wreckage site, many people ask, how did the SS Yongala sink?

The SS Yongala was a luxury passenger vessel that was sailing from Melbourne to Cairns when it went missing after last being seen in the Whitsunday Passage near Dent Island on March 23.

At the time, she had one hundred twenty two people on board, as well as cargo, and a racehorse named Moonshine.

While a cyclone was on the way and a warning had been issued to vessels, the unfortunate SS Yongala did not have wireless communication, and therefore went head on into the storm, passing right by a lighthouse, where she was last seen before her unfortunate end.

At first no one noticed that she was missing, since it was assumed she had taken refuge in the Whitsunday Islands to wait out the storm. But by March 26, after she was due at her final destination, it was posted that she was missing.

Several days later, cargo washed up on the shores east of Townsville that was the same as the SS Yongala was carrying, causing people to think the worst and causing an increase in resources to find survivors . However, despite search efforts the wreckage or any of the passengers on board could not be found. It was assumed that crew were lost in the wreckage.

Her fate remained a mystery for 50 years until she was finally found in 1958, 30 metres below the surface off Cape Bowling Green near Townsville. It adds to her eerie story, knowing how close she was to Townsville and safety when she met her untimely end. Many people speculated that she was further out to sea when she met her demise, adding more to the mystery of how the SS Yongala sank. She was inspected in Brisbane and said to have been in great working order, and also had 14 years of untarnished history, as well as an experienced Captain and crew, giving no good reason why she would have gone under, despite the weather.

Today she is an Australian idol and historical tragedy, and attracts many visitors who want to dive and explore her final resting place. No one knows what caused the untimely end, nor what happened in the boats final moment.To this day the only body recovered was that of the racehorse, Moonshine.

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