Shamrock Wreck – Catherine Hill Bay

Wreck of the Shamrock, 1903

Catherine Hill Bay, NSW

Length = 256.9ft = 78.30m

Width = 32.1ft = 9.78m

Depth = 21.1ft = 6.43m

"Wreck of the Shamrock" courtesy of

“Wreck of the Shamrock” courtesy of

The Shamrock was an Iron single screw steamer constructed in Willington Quay on Tyne, UK in 1878 originally named “Rowland”. Registered in Sydney in 1902 with the Stevedoring & Shipping Ltd.




Line of Sights:

Shamrock Wreck - Catherine Hill Bay - Line of Sights


Line up the middle tyre on the coal loader with the cliff face in the background where the scrub meets the rocks.

Shamrock Wreck - Catherine Hill Bay - Line of Sights


Line up the far right hand side of the Catherine Hill Bay Surf Lifesaving Club with the power pole behind and also where the old footpath down from the clubhouse doglegs (as seen above) nowadays the midsection of the new steps.

These marks will place you above the propeller of the Shamrock.

Shamrock Wreck - Catherine Hill Bay - Propeller Shaft

“Looking down the propeller shaft with photographer”







What to see:

The best time to dive the Shamrock wreck is on an offshore wind when then seas are low and preferably on a high tide as the top of the boiler and the propellers are the shallowest areas of the wreck.

After the big storms in June/July 2007 (that caused the Pasha Bulker to run aground on Nobby’s Beach, Newcastle) a metre of sand was removed from the wreck enabling a better view of the layout of the wreck. Unfortunately some of the sand has returned in the months that have passed.

Fish life such as Stripey, Morwong, Catfish, Crabs, Crayfish, Blackfish, Nudibranchs, Spotted Shrimp, Wobbegong, Port Jackson, Stingarees and Large Stingrays have been known to visit this site.


Shamrock Wreck - Catherine Hill Bay

“Small squid swimming around the propeller shaft”















The following extracts are rewritten word for word.

Newcastle Morning Herald

2nd April 1903



 Catherine Hill Bay. Wednesday.

The steamer Shamrock, which went ashore yesterday morning, has now settled further down in the sand, the sea at the high water being level with her bridge deck. The steamer Undine has arrived from Sydney with salvage gear. The crew abandoned the vessel last night, and are now ashore. There are evidences that the vessel is breaking up, and it is generally thought that she is hopelessly wrecked.

The Shamrock arrived here about 5 p.m. on Sunday night from Sydney. It was then raining, and the land partially obscured by mist. The vessel was observed to be dangerously close to a point of rocks lying to the north of Catherine Hill Bay, but subsequently steamed from there, and drifted among the breakers near the beach. Whether she struck the beach is doubtful, but the vessel was certainly in the vicinity of the breakers for fully ten minutes before getting clear of the dangers. She then attempted to make fast at the jetty, but failed to tie up, the evolution being rendered difficult by the darkness, and subsequently anchored in the bay until next morning. At 9 a.m. on Monday the Shamrock then berthed at the jetty, and proceeded with her loading, having 2000 tons of coal on board by 4 a.m. on Tuesday in getting under weigh to proceed to sea it is said the vessel attempted to pass between the Wallarah Coal Company’s buoy and the beach, instead of taking the usual track inside the buoy. In so doing it is thought she struck a rock, as shortly afterwards rockets were fired from her. Subsequently the steamer settled down on a sandy bottom in the Bay, about 100 yards from the beach. She is out of the track of vessels, and will not in any way interfere with steamers loading at the jetty, where there is plenty of water for vessels of the Shamrock class.

During Saturday night one of the Shamrock’s ship’s boats broke away, and came on the beach, and her crew in endeavouring to get the boat through the surf to the steamer were capsized by the overturning of the boat into the breakers, and one man nearly lost his life. The boat is past repair, and now lies midway up the beach. Mr. Dedman, the pilot from Lake Macquarie Heads, is standing by the wreck in the interests of the Navigation Department.

This is the first accident of the kind that has taken place here since the Wallarah Coal Company started operations fifteen years ago, though the steamers are coming in and going out constantly. Such steamers as the Corio, Age, Buninyong, Innamincka, Cloncurry and Rotokino have loaded here, and the Shamrock has traded here regularly for some time.

Shamrock Wreck - Catherine Hill Bay - Bollard

“Bollard found on the starboard side of the wreck”















Newcastle Morning Herald

5th June 1903


The Shamrock looks as if she is likely to stay here for an indefinite period. The last gale has knocked her about very much and the beach is strewn with wreckage from the vessel. The big seas have removed the whole of the bridge, stern, wheelhouse, decks and rigging. Not much can be seen of the vessel, but her two masts and bows, which are well above the water. The latter yet hold one of the boilers which the salvage syndicate placed on board to pump the vessel dry. All the remainder of the plant was washed overboard by the gale. The local coal company would no doubt like to see the wreck out of the way as although vessels can enter and leave here without difficulty in rough weather this sunken danger somewhat hampers a steamer’s movements.


Newcastle Morning Herald

15th March 1905


The Wallarah Coal Company have taken over the matter of the Shamrock wreck, as it lies in the road of vessels coming to their jetty for coal, and it is also causing sand to silt up at the jetty, a matter which is not desirable. The company have employed an experienced diver, and so far his efforts to destroy the hull of the wreck with dynamite have been very successful. An attempt will be made in the course of a few days to remove a donkey boiler from the wreck, and it is thought that the first rough weather on the coast will largely add to the success of the work shifting the Shamrock from her present troublesome position.


Shamrock Wreck - Catherine Hill Bay - Propeller

“The Propeller.”