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  • Writer's pictureMagnetic Community News


Cockle Bay, Magnetic Island- SS City of Adelaide shipwreck.

The 77-metre vessel was constructed in 1864 in Glasgow and spent many years as a passenger ship before being converted to a coal storage vessel in 1902. In 1912 the coal caught fire and the City of Adelaide burned for two days.

Three years after the fire, a Magnetic Island businessman named George Butler purchased the ship with plans to refit her as accommodation for tourists, or as a breakwater in Picnic Bay.

The Adelaide ran aground at Cockle Bay in 1916 while being transported after sale and is just 300m offshore making it possible to wade out to the wreck during a low tide. Locals used the ship as a changing room when coming to swim around the wreck or collect the oysters that grew on her sides.

In 1942 four servicemen died when their fighter plane crashed into the rear mast of the City of Adelaide while on a training exercise. The hull of the ship then sustained further significant damage in Cyclone Althea in 1971.

Magnetic Island's 20 shipwrecks feature in a diving trail which was developed by the Maritime Museum of Townsville for divers and snorkelers.

An anchor from the City of Adelaide is on display outside the local offices of Maritime Safety QLD, next to the barge terminal.

Maritime Museum of Townsville

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