Sydney is a truly spectacular city, commonly regarded as one of the top 10 in the world. Accordingly, the state capital is a mecca for tourists both local and international, as well as a host of other visitors who travel to the hub on business or to catch up with family. On your first trip to the city, there are a few ‘must-see’ attractions to tick off the list, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower and of course the famous Opera House. 

Once you’ve visited a few times though, you’ll want to check out some of the more obscure attractions – ones that are still uniquely ‘Sydney’, but with that extra something different. Fortunately, these types of locations can be found in abundance throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. For one of the most spectacular sights, rent a car in Sydney and head out to Homebush Bay.

Located half an hour from the city centre, this is where you’ll find one of New South Wales’ most charming residents – the wreck of the SS Ayrfield. 

With over a century in New South Wales, the ship has certainly earned its residency.

History of the SS Ayrfield

Originally known as the SS Corrimal, this ship is more than 100 years old, built in the United Kingdom in 1911. It didn’t stay there for very long though, making the long journey south to Australia, registered in Sydney in 1912. With over a century in New South Wales, the ship has certainly earned its residency. The cargo carrier weighs 1,140 tonnes and comes in at just under 80 metres in length.

The SS Corrimal saw service during World War II as a supply transport, providing American soldiers with provisions while they were stationed in the Pacific. After it had completed this role, the ship was sold off in 1951 and renamed as the Ayrfield before it embarked on the next part of its life. This was as a collier – a ship transporting coal – between Sydney’s Blackwattle Bay and Newcastle, which is one of the world’s most important ports for exporting the material. The SS Ayrfield dutifully carried out this role for more than 20 years before being retired in 1972 at the grand old age of 61.


The SS Ayrfield today

After many years of loyal service, the SS Ayrfield was sent to Homebush Bay in 1972. Now a trendy neighbourhood of Sydney located near the Olympic Park, the bay was at the time being used as a ship breaking yard. Many vessels were brought here to be decommissioned and broken up, but for whatever reason, a few managed to survive the process – the SS Ayrfield among them. 

Over the next few decades, the ships left in Homebush Bay began to break down and decay, sinking into the water to be reclaimed by nature and form artificial reefs beneath the surface. The few structures that remained visible above the water rusted and collapsed until they were barely recognisable as former vessels.

All of them that is, except for the SS Ayrfield. Miraculously, the ship was taken over by mangrove trees. The foliage now seems to grow out of the ship’s deck, providing an incredible and surreal appearance that adds real character to the area and is renowned as one of Sydney’s most strangely beautiful attractions.

If you’re looking for an absolutely unique experience, the SS Ayrfield is well worth a visit – whether you’re travelling to Sydney for the first time or the 50th!

For more information on car hire and attractions in Sydney, get in touch with East Coast Car Rentals today!