Discover the Shipwrecks of Homebush Bay

This guide explains everything you need to know about the Homebush Bay shipwrecks, how to find them, and how they ended up there in the first place.

Even though many Sydney-siders have never seen or even heard of them, the shipwrecks of Homebush Bay are surprisingly easy to locate.

An easy, family-friendly walking trail through a scenic landscape allows visitors to see these shipwrecks from close by and learn more about their history.

How to Get There

Before you go out and discover these shipwrecks, it’s good to know that there are multiple wrecks to be found in the bay.

The most photographed wreck is the SS Ayrfield. Many visitors only go and see that particular wreck, often not realising that there are more wrecks to discover.

Map

There are two starting points to walk to the shipwrecks in Homebush Bay:

The map below shows both these car parks, plus the five shipwrecks that can be discovered walking along the shoreline of Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park:

Map of the Homebush Bay Shipwrecks

These five shipwrecks are:

  1. HMAS Karangi
  2. SS Heroic
  3. Unknown Shipwreck
  4. SS Ayrfield
  5. SS Mortlake Bank

If you’re in a hurry (or only want to see the SS Ayrfield), it’s best to start from the Archery Centre car park. You will find a couple of publicly accessible paths between the apartment blocks leading to the waterfront.

Once at the waterfront, you will see the first shipwreck, the SS Ayrfield. From there, cross the creek via Bennelong Parkway, and then follow the walking path back to the waterfront to see the other wrecks.

If you have a bit more time, starting from the Badu Mangroves car park is strongly recommended. The walking trail through the mangroves and past the Waterbird Refuge is quite enjoyable, before seeing the shipwrecks.

The section below will discuss the Homebush Bay shipwrecks following this longer walking track.

Shipwrecks of Homebush Bay

The Homebush Bay Shipwrecks

You might be wondering how these shipwrecks ended up in the shallow waters of Homebush Bay. Well, it’s not a tragic tale involving heroic seamen and a vicious storm.

History

The area where these wrecks are now stranded used to be a shipwreck yard in the 1960s and 1970s. Old and unused vessels were transported to this yard to be decommissioned and disposed of.

But the yard vanished, and consequently, some of its shipwrecks were left behind. And with nature taking over, the wrecks have slowly turned into floating forests, creating fantastic photo opportunities.

Walking Trail

As mentioned, the best way to go and discover these wrecks is by doing the walking trail from the Badu Mangroves to the Waterbird Refuge, and on to the southern part of Wentworth Point.

Badu Mangroves in Sydney Olympic Park
Badu Mangroves in Sydney Olympic Park

The Badu Mangroves form the largest remaining intertidal wetland on the Parramatta River. A boardwalk navigates through the mangroves, allowing visitors to experience this fascinating ecosystem from close by.

From the mangroves, the walking trail continues past the Waterbird Refuge, a 10-hectare large wetland with lots of wildlife, including rare and endangered migratory birds.

1. HMAS Karangi

The first shipwreck can be found opposite the Waterbird Refuge.

Look out for a signpost and a bench, and then look carefully through the mangrove trees, and you will see the remains of the HMAS Karangi in the water.

The HMAS Karangi shipwreck
The HMAS Karangi shipwreck

The HMAS Karangi was a steel-hulled boom defence vessel, built at Cockatoo Island and commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1941.

2. SS Heroic

The SS Heroic lies right behind the HMAS Karangi and is a bit hard to identify for that exact reason.

This was a steel-hulled steam tugboat built in 1909 in the United Kingdom for a tugboat operator in Sydney. It was brought to Homebush Bay in the 1970s to be broken up.

3. Unknown Shipwreck

The walking track continues northbound, past the observation tower, and onto a small peninsula (the official Shipwreck Lookout), where you can see another shipwreck on your right.

The name of this vessel is not known, but it seems to be a small one. Quietly hidden in the mangroves, you can actually touch it.

Unknown shipwreck in Homebush Bay
Unknown shipwreck

From the unknown shipwreck, walk to the Shipwreck Lookout, where you can catch the first glimpses of the SS Ayrfield and the SS Mortlake Bank further north.

To get a better view of these two wrecks, continue the walking trail northbound, cross Bennelong Parkway, and look for the walking path between the apartment blocks that leads back to the foreshore.

4. SS Ayrfield

And that brings us to the most remarkable and most photographed shipwreck in Homebush Bay: the SS Ayrfield.

The SS Ayrfield shipwreck
The SS Ayrfield shipwreck

Originally launched as the SS Corrimal, it was built in England in 1911 as a coal-carrying ship. During WWII, however, it was used by the government to assist American soldiers in the Pacific Ocean.

After the war, the ship again served as a commercial vessel, and was eventually retired from service in 1972 and brought to Homebush Bay to be broken up.

5. SS Mortlake Bank

The SS Mortlake Bank lies just behind the SS Ayrfield and can be seen from the same viewing points.

The SS Mortlake Bank shipwreck
The SS Mortlake Bank shipwreck

The Mortlake Bank was a steel-hulled steamcollier built in the 1920s in the United Kingdom. After decades of service in Australia, it was brought to Homebush Bay for decommissioning.

Once you’ve finished exploring the shipwrecks of Homebush Bay, it may be worth also visiting the Brickpit Ring Walk. This elevated circular boardwalk above a large pond is quite an amazing sight and offers great district views.

Read our guide to the most fascinating hidden places in Sydney to find even more of these unique spots to visit.

 

The shipwrecks of Homebush Bay

 

Published: April 26, 2021
Updated: May 1, 2024

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Author:

AJ Mens

AJ Mens is a digital publisher based in Sydney, Australia, and the editor-in-chief of Sydney Uncovered and Blue Mountains Uncovered.

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