The Wreck of the "SS Dickey"


The wreck of the SS Dickey lays a pleasant walk along the beach from where I live.

The SS Dickey is indeed situated on a beautiful beach which bears its name minus the ‘e’. The wreck has survived over 100 years, relentlessly pounded by the ocean waves day and night and always exposed to the elements. Rather than collapse into an unsightly heap the Dickey has stood firm and proud forever managing to fashion itself into a handsome and classic shipwreck sculpture which has been much loved by locals and tourist alike.   

The wreck is a photographer’s dream and is such a wonderful place to hone ones photography skills as well as to experiment with new techniques. It is easy to obtain your own stunning and unique image of this wreck. There really is an endless number of totally different techniques to photograph this wreck and it is easy assessable.  For example the wreck is a perfect place to sharpen up you blurred water techniques with long exposures and filters as the waves wash in and out or crash over the remaining wreck. Sunrise shots are great here as well as sunsets when the eastern sky colours up responding to the setting sun at your back. One can in addition explore ones boundaries with night photography. Time of day, low tide, high tide, calm sea or rough sea will all produce something different. Take a large memory card and take a lot of shots for it is the wave action and the reflection on the wet sand which can make one shot special and both are constantly changing every second. At sunrise a graduated neutral density filter can be handy for blocking some of the sky light to avoiding over exposing the sky. 


The Dickey is also an excellent place  to meet fellow photographers and exchange techniques. 



One of my favourite times here is one night before the full moon when the ‘full’ moon rises behind the wreck in a sky drenched in sunset colours. I had set my camera up on a tripod one such afternoon and was marvelling at the beauty of the big moon rising above the horizon. The sea had a gloss to it which was soaking up the saturated pink light from the sky. This truly captivating scene was all so gorgeous it seemed almost like fairyland and I thought to myself ‘Wow, why is not everyone down here watching this?’ I turned around and I was delighted to see a crowd of at least 30 people had gathered behind me to admire the spectacle. They appeared glad that I finally looked around, I said “Is it not just beautiful” and everyone smiled and a few gave a little cheer and agreed.  




                                                        Prints of the wreck of the "S.S. Dickey".



My sister’s husband, John Shea, has researched deep into the wreck of the SS Dickey and has written this splendid article about its history. Thanks John for allowing me to use your article here.  




                                                                   “The Dickey”


The Dickey was a steel, screw driven, gaff rigged fore and mainsail schooner.  She was 96 feet long, had a beam of 21 feet and was 226 gross tons (144 tons net).  She was a small but bold vessel with a well balanced deck housing which gave her a pleasing silhouette.  She was powered by a beautiful 30 horse power two cylinder compound steam engine and her  builder was G. Howaldt of Keil.  The propellor was six foot six inches in diameter and the draft was eight feet. She carried only a bower anchor and had no kedge anchor.  There were two winches, one forward which was used for the cargo and anchor retrieval and one aft which was for cargo only.  There were two life boats.  Her cruising speed was a brisk three knots.  Certainly not fast.  But under her assisted gaff rigged sails she could muster five knots.


The Dickey was manned by a crew of eleven comprising the Master, Mate, Engineer, two Firemen, 2 AB’s, Lamp Trimmer, Coxswain, Boatswain and a Steward who also doubled as the Cook.


 John Beattie was her proud master.  James Watson was his Mate and M. Paul the Engineer.  Beattie happily departed Brisbane on the 20th January 1893 for Rockhampton.  The ship’s agent was Brydon Jones & Co.   On the trip north he encountered Force 4 winds but was able to carry full sail without any trouble.  The Dickey arrived at the Fitzroy River on the 26th January and tied up at the Lakes Creek Meat Works wharf at Rockhampton where they loaded their cargo.


Beattie’s intended course back was between Fraser Island and the mainland, which would allow him to cut across Hervey Bay to Noosa Heads, round Point Wickham at Caloundra and then on to the Port of Brisbane.  The Dickey departed on the 28th January 1893 but had to lay-to at the light ship at the mouth of the Fitzroy River until the 1st February for a more favourable wind and tide to come in.


Unknown to Beattie a severe weather change was sweeping up along the Queensland coast.  By 3.30am on the 2nd February they were making a SE course for Hervey Bay.  The wind was a strong E - Force 6 on the Beaufort Scale. The Dickey was making a brisk five knots under sail as the waves increased to white capped rollers with spray blowing off their peaks.  By 4 am the wind was now N.NE and a strong gale - Force 9 - with a wind speed of 60 miles per hour.  Beattie was unaware he was on the NW edge of a cyclone.  The Dickey was rolling greatly and the skipper was having difficulty managing his ship, struggling into this violent storm.  The stokehold was flooded and he was forced to shelter in Laguna Bay to strip and clean the pumps and then pump out the stokehold.


He was under way again by 4 am on the 4th and passed Noosa at 4.15 am and tacked to starboard bearing on Point Cartwright.  The wind increased to Force 11, now 80 miles an hour, with towering foaming terrifying 30 foot walls of water cascading from end to end over the full length of the hull and hardly any visibility at all.  This prevented the skipper tacking to the SE on a safer heading.  Indeed the gusts were laying the Dickey on her beam ends and she was sliding well down to leeward.  The engine was useless in these conditions.


In the spray driven gloom Beattie mistook Moffat Headland for Wickham Point which was a mere one mile to the south and would have provided a protected refuse in the wind shadow of the bluff.  He eased the sheet and boom and bore off on what he thought was a safe SW heading.  But disaster struck as he reached into the shallows, the hull creaking and grinding as it ran aground on the rocky shore.  His efforts to clear the beach were in vane and the Dickey was driven ashore to its final resting place.  The time was 10.35 am, the date was 4th February 1893 and the elements have had their way with her ever since.


Now she is forever tilted in time to starboard, the unrelenting power of wind and sea has slowly but surely ground metal against metal, rivet against rivet, in a ceaseless war that has generated the rust that is eating this once proud ship into smaller and yet smaller pieces.  Pieces that now paint the picture of a hideous yet somehow beautiful skeletal remain.  Where gunnels that had once safely parted the ocean swells and sent sea spray shooting sideways were now bent and broken, and the hull frames that had been secure and strong now stand there like feeble bare bones.  The proud deck is now full of gaping holes, open to the sea - no longer secure. The once sturdy stem post is forlornly alone, poking up to the sky, and then ungainly twisting downwards towards the sand in a totally ungraceful manner.


The Dickey is no match for the sea now.  Waves now sweep in with the tide, bubbling and rolling in that Pacific Ocean greenishness, changing in shape as soon as they form,  curling and breaking in a cascade of bright whiteness over the ghostly remains of the Dickey.

John Shea.


                                                                    Prints of the wreck of the "S.S. Dickey".



Alone at Sea with Humpback Whales.

Alone at sea with Sharks.

Alone at Sea with my Dolphins.

The Wreck of the ‘’SS Dickey”.

Alone at Sea with my Gannets.

Alone at Sea with my Fairy Prions.

Alone at Sea with my Albatross.

Alone at Sea with Jellies and Stingers.

Alone at Sea with my Giant Petrels.

Alone at Sea with my Storm Petrels.

Alone at Sea with my Terns.

Alone at Sea with Jaegers and Skuas.

Alone at Sea with the Shearwaters.

My 5.6 metre Shark Cat

Weather at Sea.