Your ’Yongala Dive experience’ and day trip to the historic S.S. Yongala wreck begins on arrival at our premises at Alva Beach where our friendly staff will talk you through completing the necessary paperwork and the Instructor’s will assist/brief you on your dive gear. Once all the necessities are completed you can purchase some breakfast or a drink at our ‘Beach Cafe’ and mingle with your dive buddies while awaiting the Dive Briefing. Then we’ll take you on a ‘unique’ day trip as we 4WD to the beach where we launch the Yongala Express for our trip to the S.S. Yongala.
A short boat ride of approximately 30 minutes brings us to the wreck in no time and straight in for our first dive. We don’t put any restrictions on your dive times either so enjoy and have fun! Fresh fruit and snacks will be served during the one hour surface interval and there is a plentiful supply of cordial and water on board. In winter we even serve hot tea, coffee and soup to keep the chill away. We often catch turtles sun-baking on the surface and sea snakes popping up during the hour while enjoying our snacks !
Then it’s back into the water for our final dive before heading back to Alva Beach where you can shower, change and sit and discuss your awesome dive experiences with your new found friends over lunch at our Beach Cafe.
Why Choose to Dive the Yongala from Ayr (Alva Beach)?
There's one main reason - TIME. It takes 3 hours to access the Yongala Dive site from Townsville yet only 30 minutes from Alva Beach.
Thats 5 hours less boat travel in your day. There is also accommodation available if you need it.
Alva Beach is just a short drive from the main Highway for self drivers, and transfers from Ayr are included in the above prices for people travelling by bus.
What diving experience is required?
As a minimum requirement you need an ”open water certification” and to have at least 6 logged dives. If you are an open water diver or adventure diver without deep dive training we will require you to complete the PADI ‘Deep’ Adventure dive during your first dive on the S.S Yongala, this will help advance their skills to the required level and to ensure a safe and memorable experience. You can gain credit for this towards your advanced open water course, you just need to purchase a manual and complete the neccesary theory with the Dive Instructor.
Novice divers (those with less than 20 dives) should ensure they have refreshed their skills within the last six months and will be provided with a dive guide. The more experienced divers can choose to dive just with their buddy or take a guided tour from one of our experienced dive guides at no extra cost.
The S.S Yongala shipwreck is classed as an intermediate dive site, meaning it can be subject to changing conditions i.e waves height and currents.
What are the conditions like?
Almost constant sunshine and temperatures averaging around 31°C in the summer and 25°C in the winter (can cool to around 14°C in the evening) combine to make this area a great destination at all times of the year. Humidity is about 70% throughout the year with the highest rainfall coming from end of January to February.
The lovely warm waters of tropical Northern Queensland vary from around 26-31°C in the summer to 22-25°C in the winter, means diving is possible all year around. Lookout for the whales during the winter months (june to sept) while manta rays also make frequent appearances during June to December.
Due to the location of the wreck we will be moored in open water and surface conditions can sometimes be choppy and moderate currents may be experienced. If you suffer from seasickness please take appropriate medication before departure as we are unable to provide refunds due to seasickness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do we check-in and how do we get there?
At the Dive Shop – 56 Narrah Street, Alva Beach
You can self drive, Yongala Dive is 15mins from Ayr which is 100 kms south of Townsville (approx 1 hour) and 200kms north of Airlie Beach (approx 2 hrs 15 mins). Directions can be found on our website (click here). We offer free transfers for our dive lodge guests from the Ayr bus stop daily at 12:40 & 15:25. A taxi from Ayr to Alva Beach will cost approx $35.
How many dives do we do?
2 dives on the wreck, with an hour surface interval. The last dive finishes around 1pm (for those wanting to fly the next day). Please refer to our daily schedule.
What is the daily schedule?
7:30 – Diver check in (paperwork completion, payment, dive gear check)
8:10 – Dive Brief
8:30 – Depart for beach to board boat
8:50 – Make way to dive site, 2 dives, 1hr surface interval and snacks
13:30 (approx) – Arrive back at beach
14:00 – lunch at the Yongala Beach Cafe
15:00 – Drop-offs to Ayr commence in time to catch the bus south @ 3:25pm (we cannot guarantee you will make this bus connection)
In busy seasons we offer afternoon trips – this schedule would be as follows:
11:30 – Check-in (paperwork completion, payment, dive gear check)
12:00 – Light lunch provided
12:30 – Dive Brief
12:45 – Depart for beach
13:00 – Make way to dive site, 2 dives, 1 hr surface interval and snacks
17:30 (approx) – Arrive back at beach
When’s the best time of year to dive?
Tropical North Queensland is great for diving all year round, although the diving is different in summer and winter. Seasons are the reverse of the northern hemisphere.
Winter (June to Aug) – Our winters usually offer warm, clear days with better visibility but the wind is often stronger and the water temperature is a little cooler.
Humpback whales etc, manta rays (aug onwards) visibility tends to be better 15-25 m
Water temp 21-25 degrees Celsius
Land temp approx 25 degrees Celsius
Spring/Summer (Sept to Dec) – In Summer the water warms up and generally offers lighter winds. January to April is our wet/cyclone season with high humidity but can offer some great diving with large schools of bait fish around and therefore lots of feeding.
Huge schools of baitfish, manta rays
Visibility approx 10-15 m
Water temp approx 25 – 31 degrees Celsius
Land temp from 28 – 35 degrees Celsius
I have heard marine stingers are in the water from October to April, can I still dive?
Stingers, also known as box jellyfish, are coastal dwellers and therefore only usually found around the shore as they breed in the estuaries. However there can be other jellyfish around which can provide a sting call the ‘irikundji syndrome’ so often called ikijundji jellyfish. These can inhabit the waters and therefore we ensure that all divers are provided with full length wetsuits and lycra hoods to protect from stings.
I am travelling alone, who will I dive with?
We will provide a dive buddy for you. We also offer free dive guides with every dive.
Will I need to show my dive certification card?
YES. You will need to present this card on check-in so please don’t forget it. If you do not have a card you will need to advise us in advance, if you are a PADI or SSI diver we will be able to look your details up online with some basic information. If you are not a PADI or SSI diver you will need to provide us with some proof of your certification. CMAS divers must bring and show certification cards as there is no other way to check! A $10.00 administration fee will apply if we are required to search for your dive certification card on the morning of your dive, through the PADI and SSI database.
Do you offer dive guides?
We offer free dive guides to all divers. For those experienced divers who wish to dive to their own plan we are happy for them to dive with a buddy as long as they provide us with their dive plan prior to the dive.
Do we run dive trips every day?
Yes, we do go out everyday 362 days a year providing we meet minimum numbers (4 pax) and weather permitting. We don’t go out in wind speeds above 20 knots.
What is the average length of a dive?
Your dive time depends on a number of things – your air consumption, experience level and your depth. An average dive time could be around 40 minutes, however those divers with good air consumption can easily increase this. Currents can also reduce your dive time.
Do you restrict dive times?
No, we do not generally restrict dive times, however, we do not allow decompression diving so all divers must stay within their decompression limit. Nitrox is available to extend dive times. Enriched Air courses are available to take advantage of extended dive times.
What equipment is provided?
Own gear includes – tanks and weights only
Full gear hire includes– BCD, regulator, dive computer (wetsuit, fins and mask are thrown in). Dive equipment can be hired separately i.e. dive computers. A dive computer will be required due to the depth of the wreck.
What is the recommended weight wetsuit?
Summer – full length suit to 3mm (Oct to April). We provide lycra hoods in stinger season which MUST be worn.
Winter – full length 5mm suit (Apr to Sept), plus you will need to bring a vest or hood if you require extra warmth.
What size/fittings are the scuba tanks?
Our tanks are mainly 88 cu/ft (11.2 lt) aluminium tanks. Standard fittings are ‘K’Valve, however we do have some tank valves which can convert to ‘din’ fittings.
I am a PADI Open Water Diver, can I dive the Yongala?
Yes… you will need to make the PADI Deep Adventure Dive as part of your first dive on the Yongala, during the dive you will be looked after by a highly experienced PADI instructor who is also an expert on diving the Ship Wreck Yongala. After completion of this adventure dive you will be certified to dive to 30 metres.
What happens during the Deep Adventure Dive?
You will complete skills with your PADI Instructor, and a knowledge review after reading the deep diver section from the PADI Adventure dive manual. List of skills and more information can be found here. The idea of this adventure dive experience is not to make you an expert in deep diving, it is designed to give you a better understanding and advance your dive skills further enabling you to dive to a maximum of 30 metres.
Do I need a Dive Medical?
Dive Medical - Download FormAs a certified diver generally a dive medical is not required. However, if you have a history of medical condition which is not appropriate for diving (i.e. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, heart or lung disorders) you will need to provide a medical certificate stating you are fit to dive.
When should I book?
To make sure we can fit you in and you get the best value out of your diving or course, please give us plenty of notice. We can go through options and fit in around any timescales you have if we have enough notice from you.
What should I bring on the boat with me?
Bring a towel and a warm jumper in winter (May-Sept) – wind/waterproof jacket is recommended.
What food and drink is provided?
We will provide lunch on the day of your dive together with snacks on board during your surface interval. We are based 16kms away from the nearest supermarket or shop so we recommend you bring some food with you for dinner and snacks etc. We do have a café usually open for breakfast from 7am to 8.30am (this time can vary depending on dive check-in time) – lodge guests are offered a special $5 continental brekkie (cereal, toast and juice). The café is also open from Friday-Sunday for lunch and dinner.
I am an Enriched Air Nitrox diver, can I obtain nitrox fills?
Yes. Nitrox fills are available – usually at 33 or 34% at $15 per fill. Please advise us in advance if you will require nitrox tanks. Nitrox certification cards must be shown and if using your own regulators they will need to be O2 approved by the manufacturer.
What is your cancellation policy?
We require a minimum of 48 hours notice in low season (February to September) to cancel a dive trip, otherwise full payment will be required. In high season (October to January) there is a 7 day cancellation policy.
Can my partner/friend who is a non- diver come on the boat and go snorkelling?
We don’t generally take non-divers on the boat due to the fact the boat is moored in open ocean and if there is surface swell it can be uncomfortable for them sitting for 5 hours on a boat. Also, if they do come on a boat, they will need to pay for a space which would be at the own gear price plus reef tax and mooring fees.
Are there any child minding services available?
Burdekin Family Day Care Centre is located in Ayr and is available from 7:00 am for child care whilst you are diving. For further information on their services please visit their website (www.burdekinfamilydaycare.com.au) or pop them an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I have not dived in a while, will I need a refresher before I come?
Depending on your confidence in the water and experience level you might need to do a refresher. If you are an Open Water diver or Advanced diver and have less then 30 dives and have not dived in the last 6 months we will require you to conduct a refresher course or shallow dive prior to your trip, we can usually conduct a refresher the day before you are due to dive, please call to discuss this.
Are there any shops in Alva Beach?
The nearest shop will be back in Ayr (16kms away) we do have a café here that is open from Wednesday – Sunday for lunch and dinner (also breakfast for our lodge guests is available). We are also able to provide some basic frozen meals on Monday and Tuesday for those who arrive without supplies. On weekends we will be selling anything from fish & chips, burgers, bait & ice to wraps and sandwiches.
What is the minimum age to dive the Yongala wreck?
A minimum age of 16 is required in order to dive with us at the Yongala wreck due to the location and depth of the wreck (14-28m).
Can I rent an underwater camera for my dive?
We rent Olympus Muju digital underwater camera’s with a housing for you to take your own pictures, these are burnt onto a dvd with a movie file of approximately 100 of our stock photo’s.
Do you have a photo pro on board taking photos?
Our dive staff will taking an underwater camera with them during your dives; this will enable us to take photo’s and video of you. Which will be shown in a slideshow back at the dive shop and can be burnt onto DVD at a cost of $35 including all movie files and approximately 100 of our stock photos.
Where is the nearest recompression chamber?
The nearest recompression chamber is based in Townsville Hospital, approximately 100km north of Ayr. It is recommended that all passengers carry insurance to cover medical evacuation.
I suffer seasickness should I take any medication?
Yes. All boats move. We offer natural ginger tablets for sale at the Dive Shop but if you require something stronger please check with your chemist. It is advisable to take one tablet the night before your dive, then one-two tablets approx half an hour before you board the vessel. Please drink extra water on board to combat the effects of dehydration.
Where do I stay?
We have an on-site diver’s lodge, with dorms and a private queen. Prices include linen daily. Towels are not provided but can be hired for $5 each. There is a fully fitted kitchen in the lodge so you may either self cater for dinner, take advantage of our BBQ area or we have frozen meals at the dive lodge which you can purchased.
What is the Reef Tax (EMC) and Mooring fee for?
A compulsory fee of $5.50 per person per day is collected for the Government Environmental Management Charge. There is also a mooring fee charged by the Museum of Tropical Queensland which is a ‘per diver’ fee of $13.50 for the upkeep of the moorings at the wreck. (Subject to change) Currently the combined fee on top of your booking is $19 AUD.