Scuba Diving & Snorkeling ...

SCUBA diving with the Seals

Scuba diving South Coast

The South Coast of NSW has many excellent scuba dive and snorkel sites, some accessible from the shore and others by boat. The marine life of the area is varied and interesting and dive sites are not usually busy. The following information covers dive sites from the Illawarra south to the border, with a focus on the Eurobodalla area. More detailed information may be found in Tom Byron’s book, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling and Spearfishing Guide to Southern New South Wales.

Weather and sea conditions are always an issue on the South Coast and divers should check weather forecasts and consult local experts before entering the water. Diving is usually at its best in Autumn and early Winter. Conditions in Spring are often favorable but blustery winds in Summer often make it difficult to get out.

Scuba diving and Snorkeling - Shoalhaven Coast

Water temperatures are largely determined by the East Australian Current. The water is at its warmest in February – March, when it can reach around 22 degrees. By August – September, it can drop to a fairly brisk 15 degrees. For more general info on diving visit the Scuba Diving Place This is a one-stop-center for your online Scuba Diving and vacation information.

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Remember that all divers should be properly qualified and equipped and have to take responsibility for their own safety and that of their buddies. Any divers who have not been in the water for some time should do a refresher course before entering the water again.

Shellharbour has a good range of excellent dive sites. In particular, it has sites readily accessible from shore. Bass Point juts out into the sea and so provides sites that are sheltered no matter whether the weather is coming from the north or the south. Bushrangers Bay is a fantastic shore dive. Almost enclosed, it is home to numerous unusual fish and invertebrates. In addition, it is a Marine Reserve, so all the marine life there is protected. The only problem is the steep stairway down from the car park. Another shore diving site is the Gutters, which is readily accessible and sheltered from southerly weather. Several good sites are accessible by boat from the end of the point. There are two dive operators in Shellharbour, both of whom not only run boat dives but do guided shore dives.

Jervis Bay is an internationally renowned area for scuba diving. It offers a wealth of dive sites accessible both from the shore and by boat and caters to all levels of ability. The enclosed nature of the bay means that it is always possible to find sheltered sites. The marine life is spectacular and includes grey nurse sharks (making a return now that the area is a Marine Park), seals and weedy sea dragons, among many unusual and not-so-unusual residents. In August, the Port Jackson sharks turn up in their hundreds for the breeding season. There are several dive operators based at Husskison and Vincentia.

Ulladulla has a wealth of good sites that are readily accessible by boat from the Ulladulla Harbour. They include Lighthouse Reef, Home Bommie and – somewhat further away – Burrill Rocks. The Ulladulla area is characterised by colourful sponges, tunicates, gorgonians and other invertebrate growth that gives the dive sites a spectacular richness. Fish life is diverse and numerous. Because the sites are within 15 minutes or so from the harbor there is no need for long boat trips.

Bawley Point is a well-known shore dive about 15 kilometres South of Ulladulla. The dive site is on the northern side of the Point and extends about 200 metres from west to east. Entry is from below an old gantry. In addition to excellent fish and invertebrate life, there are also a couple of pieces of old machinery lying in the water, creating something of a mini artificial reef. Because of its northerly aspect, this site is best dived when the weather is coming from the south.

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Scuba diving and Snorkeling - Eurobodalla Coast

The Batemans Marine Park begins at Bawley Point and continues south to the mouth of Wallaga Lake. Many areas within the Marine Park are sanctuary zones, where taking of any marine life is prohibited. Over time, it is expected that marine life in these zones will become more numerous and diverse, with individual animals growing larger. This will obviously improve the scuba diving and snorkelling experience. Maps of the zones are readily available.

Sites between Bawley Point and Batemans Bay are accessible from shore. Ulladulla and other dive operators occasionally take their boats to sites along this coast, including Brush Island, which offers great diving, including the opportunity to go deeper.

Scuba Diving - BATEMANS BAY

Batemans Bay has some special dive sites accessible by boat. The Tollgate Islands and nearby Black Rock are covered by a Marine Park Sanctuary Zone, which protects the diverse marine life there. One of the most exciting scuba diving sites is the Shark Gutter at the Tollgates, where divers can sit in the water at 13 metres depth and watch the majestic Grey Nurse Sharks cruising back and forth right in front of them. These critically endangered sharks are now only found at a dozen or so ‘aggregation sites’ on the NSW coast and are present in our waters only between the months of December and April.

Around Black Rock are some spectacular underwater formations, including the Tunnel, the Arch and the Chimney. These feature beautiful jewel anemones and other invertebrate life, as well as a good assemblage of reef fish. To the north-west of Black Rock, Weedy Sea dragons can be found in the kelp beds.

Back at the Tollgates, the western side of the island offers seagrass and kelp beds with a wider range of fish living in these diverse habitats. Further South is Burri Wall, on the northern side of Burrewarra Point, which is well known for its extensive areas of sea fans, tunicates, bryozoans and other invertebrate life reaching down to over 25 metres close to shore.

The numerous bays between Batemans Bay and Broulee offer a variety of snorkelling and diving experiences. Popular sites include Guerilla Bay, where divers can circumnavigate a small island, finishing up in the sheltered bay and the Broulee Cave, and interesting collapsed edge of the Broulee rock shelf. The cave has a series of openings to the sea outside, permitting dim light to filter through. Moving through this cave, divers can observe creatures that prefer the dark, such as brittle stars, tube worms, bullseyes and the occasional wobbegong.
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Diving the wreck of the Lady Darling


Shore dives are possible at Congo, Bingie, Mullimburra Point, Potato Point and Dalmeny. The jewel in the crown of diving in this area is Montague Island, which offers a fantastic array of dive sites. These include a Grey Nurse Shark Gutter at the northern end of the Island (which, like the Tollgates, is seasonal December – April), the Seal Colony, where divers can enjoy the antics of the acrobatic seals, the Pinnacles, which usually has a rich assembly of fish life down to 30 metres, and a variety of bays and reefs all around the Island. Because of its location, divers often encounter pelagic, tropical and unusual species of fish and invertebrates not found closer inshore.

Montague has its challenges however. Often there are strong currents in the area, which determine where and indeed whether diving is possible on any given day.
South of the Island is the wreck of the Lady Darling, which sank in 1880 and was not discovered until 1996. While this is reported to be a fabulous dive, it is under heritage protection and, at the moment, the mooring that is required to be used by a dive operator is awaiting repair.

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The Tathra Wharf is a well-known shore dive. Invertebrates cling to the pylons of the wharf and the bottom underneath, while thousands of fish patrol the gloomy waters. Entry and exit is somewhat difficult, but the dive rewards the careful diver. The wharf has a northerly aspect, so is best dived when the weather is coming from the south.

Further south, the Merimbula Wharf has the opposite orientation, and when the weather is coming from the north, conditions are often completely flat there. Once again, it is a rewarding shore dive.

Boat diving can be done on sites just outside the Merimbula Bar, such as Wonderland and the Sponge Garden. A good wreck dive nearby is that of the Empire Gladstone, which ran aground off Haycock Point in 1950. Though much broken up it serves as an artificial reef and it is always home to numerous fish.

Scuba Diving - EDEN
The major attraction here is diving on the purposely sunk wrecks of the Henry Bolte and the Tasman Hauler, just south of Twofold Bay. These wrecks lie in about 28 metres of water and are an enjoyable dive. Other popular dive sites in the area include the Eden Cave and the Chipmill Wharf. While access is more difficult there are interesting dive sites further south, for example around Green Cape.

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Bermagui to Eden

Scuba diving on the South Coast of NSW is a vacation experience that people all over the world come here to experience.

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