The Caves and Whitefish Dunes tour is one of the most beloved Door County experiences, and for good reason.
Whitefish Dunes State Park is home to 863 acres of forest and dunes on the sandy shore of Lake Michigan. Cave point is just as iconic with beautiful picturesque rock formations and caves lining the blue water just north of the dunes. However, not just the views on land make this tour so intriguing.
In 1886, the Australasia, a wooden steamboat – the largest of its kind at the time, set sail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin carrying 2,200 tons of soft coal. In unfortunate circumstances, the ship’s crew noticed “a fire beneath the texas on the main deck” and abandoned the ship after an attempt to fight the fire. The tug boat, John Leathem, reached the deserted ship four miles off Jackonsport. The tug towed the vessel to shore, however, the tow line burned through and was pulled onto the beach of Cave Point at 9 a.m. on Sunday, October 18.
Today, the remains of the Australasia shipwreck lie in the sand 15 to 20 feet of water off of Whitefish Dunes State Park.
On our kayak tour, when conditions are calm, tour members are able to see the historic ship in the depths of the lake. Along with the physical remains, pieces of coal that were on the boat at the time of the fire have made their way to the sand of the Whitefish Dunes beach.
If you are not able to find any pieces of coal while on the tour, don’t worry, we have a few treasured that we will display to the group!
To get a glimpse into the quest that you too can take to find the Australasia shipwreck, check out our TikTok down below!