The charm of the SS Ayrfield, the ship-wreck transformed into a floating mangrove forest
Once cargo freighter and now a floating forest, the SS Ayrfield is a beautifully broken-down wreck, locked in Australia’s Homebush Bay probably for eternity.
Once a center of industry, Homebush Bay was unfortunately contaminated with toxic waste and is now a commercial and residential suburb of Sydney. Before the 2000 Olympic Games, this place was a ship breaking zone, and the dozens of shipwrecks that still remain here, slowly rusting in its waters, are a constant reminder of its history. Once used to transport coal, oil, and war supplies, the ships were eventually decommissioned and simply left where they floated.
The most popular of these wrecks is the SS Ayrfield, on which has miraculously sprouted in a lush forest of mangrove trees. The branches of the thriving trees spill from the sides of the ship, slowly breaking down the hull.
The SS Ayrfield, originally launched as SS Corrimal, was a collier ship built in England in 1911 and used by the Commonwealth Government during World War II to transport supplies to American troops in the Pacific. It was sold in 1950 and operated as a collier on the sixty-miler run between Newcastle and Sydney, until 1972 when the ship’s registration was canceled and it was sent to its final resting place, Homebush Bay.
Even though some say there’s a certain creepiness in the ship graveyard, it is lessened by the unique look of the SS Ayrfield, which locals often refer to as “the Floating Forest”. The trees have so completely overtaken the ship, in a wonder that still floats. The SS Ayrfield may have survived World War II, but nothing can combat the inexorable hand of nature.
Author’s note: the ship is within Homebush Bay, near the southwestern shore, along with some other wrecks and you can see it from land.
Images from web.