Sydney north side
Wreck of the “Birchgrove Park”
33° 38′ 24″ 151° 22′ 39″
The 47 metre long steam collier Birchgrove Park was built in 1930 by J. Lewis and Sons of Aberdeen, Scotland. Birchgrove Park took coal from Bulli and Newcastle, and also shipped blue metal from the quarries at Kiama. During WWII the ship was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy as an auxiliary minesweeper and transport. After the war she returned to her old run but the trade was coming to an end and by 1956 she was worn out. On 1 August 1956, the Birchgrove Park left Newcastle listing slightly to port. The weather was rough and water got into the holds. By midnight water was entering through a corroded steampipe and the vents on the forecastle. The boiler fires were put out by rising water and the crew prepared to abandon ship. At 2.45 am, the Birchgrove Park turned over and sank, taking several of the crew down with her. The Birchgrove Park is now lies on her port side facing the west, with the bow and stern fairly intact. The Birchgrove Park site has fairly good visibility.
Wreck of the “Valiant”
33° 34′ 48″ 151° 20′ 40″
The 22.5 metre long tug Valiant was built in 1945 by the Ministry of Munitions. After the end of World War II, she was sold to the Melbourne Harbour Trust. In 1978 she moved to Sydney for conversion to a fishing vessel, but she failed survey checks. In 1981 the old vessel was towed out to be scuttled, but broke free and sank off Barrenjoey Head at mouth of Broken Bay. The wreck of the Valiant lies slightly on her port side on sand. The wreck offers good diving in and around the engine room, cabins and crew quarters. Fishlife on the wreck include yellowtail, white ear, bream, mado, stripey, black-tipped bullseye, common bullseye, and sergeant baker. Visibility varies from excellent to extremely poor.
The Pinnacles (The Twins) – Bangally Head
GPS Marks of 33° 37′ 32S 151° 20′ 34″ E AUS66
Bangally Head is located to the south of Whale Beach. This site consists of two pinnacles, one of which just breaks the surface. A sloping reef leads to a few small boulders that are home to sea dragons, trevally, pike and yellowtail. The better diving is right at the end of the point on the Pinnacles themselves. This site is swarming with silver sweep, pike, big eyes, yellowtail, red morwong and wobbegongs. The surrounding reef also offers small caves and swim-throughs.
Wreck of the S.S. “Duckenfield”
GPS 151° 19′ 23″ 33° 43′ 11″ AUS 66
In 1875, the 49.1 metre long, 368 ton, steamer SS Duckenfield was built by J. & W. Dudgeon, London. In 1889, the Duckenfield left Newcastle for Sydney with coal and 50 tons of copper ingots. As the Duckenfield reached Broken Bay the land disappeared in a rain bank. At 7.00pm, she grounded on Long Reef due to a navigation error. The ship was abandoned and all crew saved. The Duckenfield slipped off Long Reef and sank just to the north of the rock. Almost all of the copper was salvaged. The wreck lies north-south, with the bow pointing north. The wreck consists mainly of the boilers, engines and the lower section of the hull. The engine is upright and very spectacular and stands 3 metres off the bottom.
Dee Why Head
A stairway gives easy access for a shore dive on shallow rocky reef offering small crevices and caves. It is often done as a winter dive when westerlies are blowing. The site is otherwise exposed. The best areas are a long swim from the stairs, up to 300 m, so this is a dive for fitter groups with good finning muscle tone. It offer some of the usual temperate reef fish but not much invertebrate life.
Dee Why Wide
33° 46″ 16.3′S 151° 19″ 14.8′E. AUS66
This extensive patch of reef isn’t near Dee Why but is 2.4km off Curl Curl Beach. The boulder bottom is home to small gorgonias, sea tulips and sponges. There are lots of small overhangs and cracks, one crack dropping into 28 metres and forming a cave. This cave has some eastern blue devilfish and schools of ladder-finned pomfret. Other fish patrolling the reef include kingfish, leatherjackets, yellowtail and seapike other species. This is an excellent dive.
The Apartments, Long Reef
33° 44’17.4″S 151° 19′ 38.4″E (AUS66)
The Apartments refers to a group of sites that are off the coast of Sydney, and make up a loose cluster of dive sites – the four main ones are ‘The Wall’, ‘The Cathedral’, The Gutter’ and ‘The Cave’. The main site at Long Reef is a large rock wall that drops to 15 to 20 metres. There is a huge rock formation that has a large swim-through running from east to west called “The Cathedral”. One of the site’s highlights is two massive boulders leaning against each other and covered in sea tulips, sponges and bryozoans. On the western side there are plenty of fish, bullseyes, roughies, yellowtail, pike and tailor. There are plenty of starfish, large cuttlefish, wobbegongs and Port Jackson sharks. Visibility is much clearer during winter. Swimming north of the Cathedral and following a wall, divers will come across large gutters often patrolled by young grey nurse sharks. The area is noted for strong currents.
The wreck of the “Euroka”
The iron steamer Euroka, was a 170-ton vessel built at Balmain, Sydney in 1897. The 37-metre steamer was converted from paddle to screw in 1910 and operated on the ‘Sixty Miler’ run between Newcastle and Sydney. After loading coal at Lake Macquarie for Sydney, Euroka grounded several times. Once at sea, water was noticed entering the engine room. At 5pm on 19 October, Captain Benton gave the order to abandon ship, resulting in the steamer demise on the NE point of Long Reef. The wreck is broken up in pieces.
The wreck of the “Myola”
151° 21′ 44″33° 45′ 46″
The 54 metres long steam collier SS Myola was built at Middlesborough by Smith’s Dock Company Limited. The ship was powered by a triple expansion steam engine of 150 hp. In 1919 the SS Myola left Newcastle for Sydney with coal. The weather was not good with heavy seas. At 10pm a list was noticed. Water began to slowly flood the engine room. Near Long Reef, the vessel began to lurch from side to side. She gradually went over and eight minutes later she sank. All of the crew got off the ship but some in the lifeboats and were never seen again. Now the wreck is broken up with the upright stern section broken away from the rest of the wreck. She is facing south-west and lies East-South-East of Long Reef.
Long Reef Ship’s Graveyard / Narrabeen Artificial Reef
The wreck of the “DHB 656”
S 33. 42.894 E 151. 20.987
This dumb (engineless) 206 ton steel hopper barge was built in 1957. It was owned by the NSW Maritime Services Board. The vessel scuttled in 1980. She was 42 meters long, and lies 3-4 meters proud of the bottom
The wreck of the “Pyrmont 2” Hopper
S 33. 43.028 E 151. 20.663 wgs84
The 34-metre steel barge Pyrmont II was built to dump ash from Pyrmont Power House. On the 5th of July 1976 the barge was scuttled in Long Reef Sydney.
The wreck of the “Apollo” Barge
151° 20′ 58.8″E 33° 43′ 40.6″S AUS 66/ S 33. 43.582 E 151. 21.049 wgs84
This 60 metre x 10 metre iron dumb barge appears to be a hopper or dump barge disposed of in this area probably in the 1980s. The barge is intact and has some interesting machinery onboard. It may also have been a former tug converted in to the fishing trawler “Apollo”. Some of these holds have fish such as bastard trumpeters and jewfish in them. As a deep wreck there is little time to explore and it can take several dives to really see it. The visibility is often good and there are no major hazards, but it is still a dive for experienced deep divers.
The wreck of the Hopper Barge “656” S 33. 42.894 E 151. 20.987
The 206 ton steel barge number ’656′ , owned by the Maritime Services Board, was 46.metres long and was scuttled on the 10th of June 1980 in Long Reef, Sydney.
The wreck of the Hopper Barge (Gantry) S 33. 43.006 E 151. 20.880
The wreck of the Hopper Barge
S 33. 43.276 E 151. 21.285
The wreck of the Hopper Barge
S 33 43.306 E 151. 21.345
The wreck of a Hopper Barge
S 33 43.396 E 151. 21.424
The 655 ton steel barge Verdier was registered in Sydney, and it was built in 1912 by Messers Poole & Steel in Balmain, Sydney Harbour (ON 128347). The 37.6 metres long vessel was scuttled in July 1983 in the artificial reef in Long Reef, Sydney. At the time the barge was owned by Harbour Lighterage, but was previously owned by the Townsville Board (till late 1967) and the constructors of the White Bay container terminal, Sydney.
The wreck of the “SS Bellubera”
33° 42′ 48″S 151° 21’00″E AUS66
The former double ended Manly Ferry Bellubera built in 1910 at Mort’s Dock, Woolwich, Sydney for the Manly run. She had a long career marred by several fatal collisions. After lying derelict in the Harbour for almost seven years, in August 1980 the Bellubera was stripped and scuttled off Long Reef as part of the artificial reef project. It broke in two during scuttling. The eastern-most bow section is intact patrolled by schools of nannygai. This section of the wreck has a huge number of nannygai as well as some huge Sergeant Bakers (we saw one eating a nannygai). The other half is 30 metres away.
The wreck of the “Sutherland Caisson”
S 33. 43.165 E 151. 20.986 wgs84
At Cockatoo Island Naval Dockyard the Sutherland dock was a dry dock constructed between 1882 and 1890 under the supervision of the engineer Louis Samuel to supplement the capacity of the smaller Fitzroy dock. Its gate or caisson was originally operated by a steam-driven engine, but later changed to an electric motor in 1915. The dock has been modified several times since then – in 1913 to accommodate the battle cruiser HMAS Australia and in 1927 for the docking of the cruisers HMAS Australia and Canberra. The wrought iron caisson was replaced in 1975 and towed out to Dee Why Head and sunk.
The wreck of the “Himma”
33° 43′ 13″ 151° 21′ 01″ / S 33. 43.103 E 151. 21.074
The 274 ton, 34 metres long, tug Himma was built in 1942 by Cochrane and Sons in Selby, UK, as the SS Empire Pat for the Royal Navy. The ship was powered by a triple expansion steam engine. During World War II the SS Empire Pat was based in the Persian Gulf. After the war she was sold and became one of the tugs on Sydney Harbour. In 1980, the now derelict tug was bought by the Fisheries Department to sink as an artificial reef. The Himma lies on a sandy bottom, stripped of all fittings. The hull is currently intact but the bridge area has collapsed into a jumble of steel. The visibility is often good. It is a dive for experienced deep divers.
The wreck of the “Meggol”
33° 43′ 04″ 151° 20′ 45″ AUS66
In 1919,The 800 ton, 231 foot long Aberdare class minesweeper HMS Wexford, was launched by William Simons for the Royal Navy and later brought to Australia. She was used as a ferry boat to Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay. She was laid up in 1928 and requisitioned by the RAN in 1939. The ship was renamed HMAS Doomba and was refiittes as a minesweeper. She has an eventful career, spotting subs during the midget sub attack on Sydney. She also performed convoy duty, rescuing seamen after a Japanese submarine attack. After the war she was laid up and used as an oil barge at Sydney. In 1970 she sank by her jetty but in 1976 she was refloated and towed out of Sydney where she was scuttled off Long Reef artificial reef. The deck is 43 metres down but she is just a stripped hull with a collapsed deck. The hull from the bow back to the first hold has also collapsed. The vessel lies north-south with the bow only 20 metres or so from the Manly Ferry Dee Why. About 20 metres away is a ferry pontoon.
The wreck of the “Coolooli”
33° 43′ 11″ 151° 20′ 53″ AUS66/ S 33. 43.074 E 151. 20.946
The bucket dredge Coolooli is one of the largest vessels scuttled around Long Reef. She displaced 150 tonnes and was 50 metres long. In August 1980, the Coolooli was sunk as part of the artificial reef. Since then she has broken up into very large pieces. The fishlife on this wreck is often relatively poor but she is covered in brilliant jewel anemones .The Coolooli is a great big site, and it takes a few dives to appreciate it all. The dive is for experienced deep divers only.
The wreck of the “Dee Why”
33° 43′ 02″151° 20′ 46″ AUS66/S 33. 42.925 E 151. 20.856
The 220 feet long double-ended Manly ferry Dee Why was launched in Scotland in 1928 and started doing nearly 7000 trips each year to Manly. By 1951, she was in reserve as diesel-engined vessels took over. Withdrawn in July 1968, the Dee Why was sold for scrapping. In 1976, the derelict was scuttled off Long Reef. The Dee Why lies upright on a sandy bottom with her bow facing east. The bow section has fallen over and partly collapsed. The western (stern) section has collapsed out on both sides. However, this section is still relatively intact Stripped of all machinery except her boilers, she is still a large and interesting wreck. Fish life is relatively poor. Deep and for experienced divers only.
The wreck of the No Frills Hopper Barge
33° 43′ 19″151° 20′ 57″
Named after the club who found her, this 60 metre long barge is lying on its side lays north-south on a sandy bottom. The top of the wreck is in 43 metres. It is largely bare with relatively poor fish life. It is dark inside and silt could easily be stirred up causing nil visibility. For experienced divers
Freshwater Beach – the Gutters
This is a more exposed but more interesting shore dive close to Sydney’s northern suburbs. The dive site is on the headland to the north of Freshwater Beach. The best diving is close to the northern most car park where there are prominent underwater gutters. It is a good beginner’s dive with reasonable good fish and invertebrate life. There is an average visibility of around 10 metres
This reef lies 300 metres off the South Steyne Surf Livesaving club and is usually performed as a boat dive. The reef is convenient if you live in the area but doesn’t have a huge variety of fish or topography.
This is an area of crevices, drop offs and swimthroughs spread over a reasonably large area of deep reef that comes to within 32 metres of the surface. Depths around the reef can be deeper. The site is exposed but the visibility is clear usually. As an offshore site is can experience a current occasionally. The life on the reef is patchy but there is excellent invertebrate life at some spots. Fish life is generally poor.
Inner Bluefish Reef
Not as good as Outer Bluefish Reef but closer to the shore and more protected from the wind. While sheltered the viability isn’t as clear. The shoreline offers kelp covered reef with some nice crevices and swimthroughs. A great site to see Weedy Sea Dragons, Cuttlefish and Wobbegong Sharks. Port Jackson Sharks are common in winter.
Outer Bluefish Reef
This reef lies further offshore with cleaner water and more filter feeding life like sponges. The reef offers a good array of temperate water reef species also. Being slightly deeper it is also more sheltered from wave action and is more likely to have delicate invertebrates like nudibranchs, sponges, ascidians, sea squirts. The fish that frequent this site are cuttlefish, mullet, wrasse, leatherjackets, sea perch, bullseyes and goatfish. The wall along the outside of the reef has many large boulders, overhangs, swim-throughs and drop offs.
The eastern side of Cabbage Tree Bay is called Shelly Beach and is very similar to the Fairy Bower site. A good night dive, noted for small sharks. This area is popular for dive courses and offers easy and often sheltered diving. There are a few interesting smaller marine creatures to see along the rocky shore to the east. The area is exposed to strong North easterly winds. The deeper areas of Shelley Beach are noted for small one metre long dusky whaler sharks that are seen in the area. A narrow foreshore reef quickly gives way to sand studded with boulders and an array of human refuse. Including pipes and an old motorbike. You may see some blue gropers, surgeonfish, yellowtail and pike. The most arduous part is the uphill walk back to the nearest car park. It makes for a family snorkelling day as there is a picnic area nearby.
This is a small headland to the north of Shelley beach, offering a similar kind of easy shore dive. This is an easy if not especially spectacular dive that is good for small marine life and macro photography, especially at night.