Location: 1 mile off Anvil Point (Swanage)
Description: 6953 ton Australian steamer
Length: 126 metres (413 feet)
Depth: 21 metres to top of wreck (60 feet), 30 metres to seabed (100 feet)
Sunk: 5 May 1918 This wreck was not discovered until the late 1960s by a member of the Kingston and Elmbridge BSAC club (London) and later bought by the group. By now the Kyarra must be the best known wreck on the south coast. On any summer weekend there could be up to 100 divers on the wreck, this could put you off but when you consider the size of this ship, over 400 long, 6000 tons and still standing 30 feet proud of the sea bed, there will still be room for one or two more. Theres still a lot of cargo on this wreck, the list of items found grows longer every week. This ship belongs to Kingston & Elmbridge Subaqua club but all the cargo belongs to HM Government so all finds must be reported to Receiver of Wrecks. The best time to dive is on a week day with a neap tide. Local dive boats will visit the Kyarra with two divers or more and you may find yourself the only diver there. Tides are a problem with the slack window down to 5-10 minutes on springs but the wreck normally has a shot line attached which shows the tide dying away. You should also use a delayed SMB as it allows diver to surface away from the shot.
The Australian steamer used as casualty-clearing ship, built 1903. 415ft x 52ft 770hp triple-expansion engines. Armed: 4.7in guns on stern. Cargo: 2600 tons general and Australian mails, plus hospital supplies and medical staff, Tilbury for Sydney, Australia, via Devonport to embark 1,000 Australian wounded.
She was covered from bow to stern in brass portholes. The Kyarra (the name is aboriginal for a small fillet of opossum fur) traded between England and Australia under the flag of the United Steam Navigation Company Limited of London. During World War 1 she was used as a hospital ship to bring home casualties from the battlefields of Flanders. The Kyarra was sunk in 1918 by a torpedo portside amidships from UB-57 (Oberleutnant Johann Lohs), killing all 6 crew members.
This is a very popular wreck, allowing trainee sports divers to build up depth experience and making an enjoyable accessible dive for those who are more experienced. There are many brass portholes to look through, and the holds still contain perfume, champagne, stout, red wine,and vinegar bottles. Sealing wax, medical supplies, dentists porcelain teeth, collar studs, gold, silver and brass watches, pipes, fountain pens and hockey sticks. More recently part of a dinner set has been found. There is also some fish life including zebra gobies and dogfish.
This is an image of the Kyarra as she is now. She lies on her starboard side.
We would like to thank Ann Weightman for allowing us to see some of her late husbands (Dave Weightman) collection of Kyarra treasures.
Here are some photos: