Australasia Shipwreck (Wooden Bulk Carrier)

820 feet southeast of Whitefish Dunes State Park in Lake Michigan


Australasia Shipwreck

Photo courtesy National Park Service



"The remains of the wooden bulk carrier Australasia lie in 15 to 20 feet of water off Whitefish Dunes State Park in Lake Michigan, mostly buried beneath a sand bottom. Built in 1884 by the well-known shipbuilder Captain James Davidson in West Bay City, Michigan, the 285-foot long Australasia was the largest wooden vessel ever built at the time of her launch. During her twelve year career, the Australasia carried bulk cargoes across the Great Lakes so efficiently she earned a fortune for her owners at a time when wooden vessels were quickly becoming obsolete. The Australasia embodies the industrial revolution on the Great Lakes, an era when maximizing profits drove technological innovations and pushed the accepted limits of wooden hulls. The Australasia meets the registration requirements of criterion D of the property type bulk freighter as described in the Multiple Property Documentation Great Lakes Shipwrecks of Wisconsin (Cooper and Kriesa 1992). The Great Lakes wooden steam bulk cargo vessel Australasia, a work of an acknowledged master shipbuilder, has yielded important information on nineteenth-century wood bulk carrier construction. As much of the site remains buried, it holds the potential to yield significantly more information as different hull sections may be uncovered and is therefore eligible at the state level under Criterion D. The period of significance begins with the date of construction in 1884 and ends with the Australasia's loss in 1896."

National Park Service

The wreck is in relatively shallow water and is open for diving. It is listed as a good dive for beginners. A buoy marks the wreck seasonally.

Update Log 

  • January 15, 2019: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added GPS Coordinates
  • April 20, 2018: Added by J.R. Manning