Woollongong Shellharbour Kiama

Woollongong

Five Islands Nature Reserve

The Five Islands Nature Reserve (FINR) is situated off the coast of Port Kembla near Woollongong, and includes Big Island No. 1 (Rabbit or Perkins Island), Big Island No. 2, Martin, Flinder’s (Toothbrush) and Bass Islands.

It is a total of 26-hectare (64-acre) in size and lies between 0.5 and 3.5 kilometres (0.31 and 2.17 mi) offshore.

The vegetation communities of the Five Islands, and especially Big Island have been degraded because of previous human usage and the introduction of exotic species of animals and plants. The Parkyns family lived on the island for a number of years in the 19th Century. Big Island is the only relatively easily accessible island of FINR and was used for grazing. A major problem is the presence of Kikuyu grass on Big Island.

Species recorded as breeding on one or more islands of the reserve include the sooty oystercatcher, little penguin, wedge-tailed shearwater, short-tailed shearwater, crested tern, white-faced storm-petrel, silver gull, kelp gull and Australian pelican.

Reptiles present in the reserve include the eastern water skink, common garden skink, weasel skink and three-toed skink. Marine mammals are occasionally hauling-out in the area and there are often about 50 Australian fur seals on Martin Island.

Public access to FINR can be had from ramps at Port Kembla steelworks, but landings are restricted to protect breeding seabirds and their habitats

 

Flinder’s (Toothbrush) Island

9-16M

The northern eastern tip of the island is home to the largest of the several caves on the island. The cave is wide and low and can be explored with a torch. It goes back about 20 metres into the island at 10 metres depth. There are small gorgonia fans to see and often rock cod. Try not to stir up the fine silt with your fins.

Nearby there are also some gutters in 9-14M about 20 Metres away from the shore. These gutters are often full of fish. The rocks are covered in kelp. Sea dragons can be found on the floor of these gutters in among the kelp.

Another dive is located off the southern end of the island in 10 to 17 metres on a sloping bottom. To the south head there is a small drop off creating a two to three metres high wall. The reef here is composed of the pinkish rock that is common to the Wollongong and Shellharbour area. The wall is about 40 metres long. With smaller invertebrates in the sheltered rock crevices including sponges, small sea fans and sea tulips and a thick kelp garden on the shallower sections.

 

 

Pig (Bass) Island

24M-33M

This offers some exceptional diving. The reef on the northern and eastern sides drop gently along a rocky and boulder bottom and out to sand in depths up to 24M. The south eastern corner has a drop off from 18-24 metres at 34° 28′ 04″E 150° 56′ 41″S (AUS 66). It lies 30 or 40 metres from the shore. There are lots of sea tulips, sponges, gorgonia and lace corals. Fish life includes pomfret, nannygai, trevally, blue groper, combfish, wobbegong, ray eels, rays and yellowtail. Out in deeper waters on the seaward side there is poor anchoring but good invertebrate life for the macro photographer on a moderately good sponge garden. The fish life here is also very good. The southern coastline also offers some patchy boulder reef to explore.

 

Martin Is

30M

Head to the northern end of the island, to GPS Reading 34° 29′ 43″E 150° 56′ 19″S (AUS66).  Anchor on the top of the reef in about 15 metres depth. There is a wall here down to 25 metres and a small gully. The wall is larger and supports more life in the deeper sections in 30 metres, and is about 5 metres high. There are colourful sponges, sea squirts, gorgonia, nudibranchs and other invertebrate life.Fishlife includes leatherjackets, combfish, Port Jackson sharks (Winter and Autumn), one-spot pullers, groper, pike and pomfret.

 

Martin Sponge Garden

27m

These sponge gardens are on the south side of the island where it is often quite exposed. This site features sponges and sea fans of many colours in 20-27M. The invertebrate life associated with the sponge garden includes lots of nudibranchs and sea spiders. It also has good fish life with schools of golden roughy and odd fish like the Eastern blue devil fish. The site has been compared favourably with the outstanding Stoney Creek site at Jervis Bay, but the sponge gardens here are much shallower and more accessible to newer divers.

 

Flinders Islet

18m

This is a shallow and relatively easy dive drifting along the eastern side of the island where there are gullies and small caves to explore. There are thick weed beds and lots of temperate reef fish species darting about. This is a relaxing second dive after a deeper first dive.

On the southern side there are shallow reefs and smaller sponge gardens

 

Wollongong Reef

20-32M

There is a very large reef just off the Wollongong lighthouse offering a relatively flat area of rock punctuated with boulders, ledges and overhangs. The schooling fish life is excellent and there are cracks and crevices with smaller invertebrate life for the macro photographer.

 

Wreck of the “Queen of Nations”

 

Built in 1861, the Queen of Nations, was one of the most highly-regarded vessels in the Aberdeen White Star line. For twenty years she had plied between London and Sydney.

The 1870s saw a major change in the Aberdeen White Star Line. The older timber ships were sold, scrapped or given a secondary role as competition with steamers increased. In 1879, Captain Donald, who had commanded the Queen of Nations for almost 10 years, was washed overboard and lost at sea. Captain Samuel Bache took command.

In 1881, they left London with a cargo that included thousands of bottles of spirits and wine. Captain Bache and the first mate decided to sample the cargo and were “hopelessly drunk” for the entire voyage.

In the pre-dawn hours of May 31, 1881, she was only a few kilometres south of their final destination. Captain Bache mistook a slag heap fire on Mount Keira off Wollongong for the light on Port Jackson’s South Head. Believing he was entering Sydney Harbour, he turned the ship toward shore and literally drove through the surf onto Corrimal Beach, just north of Wollongong.

The crew prepared to abandon ship. To their horror, the first mate came crashing onto the deck brandishing a pistol, announcing that anyone leaving the ship would be shot for desertion. The crew headed to shore anyway and while shots were fired, none found their mark. Fortunately, the first mate was too drunk to reload. Unfortunately, one person drowned trying to reach shore on a high tide.

Cargo, including a great deal of liquor, began washing ashore. People came from miles around and a wild beach party began. Some people didn’t leave the beach for weeks and even had meals sent out to them.

The wreck of the Queen of Nations site lies approximately 70 metres off Corrimal Beach opposite the outlet of Towradgi Creek, 4 kilometres north of Wollongong. The remains cover an area of approximately 60×15 metres in a water depth of 3-5 metres, just beyond the surf zone.

At least once a decade, violent storms uncover parts of the wreck. In 1976, the wreckage was once again exposed. The Queen of Nations was now regarded as a swimming hazard. Huge amounts of timber were dragged from the water by bulldozers. Most of this was chopped up and either burned or used as landfill. The lower hull and its contents could not be removed and slowly succumbed to the shifting sands.

Despite this, the Queen of Nations still contained a great deal of artefacts and after yet another big storm in 1991, almost the entire remaining structure was exposed. Bottles of spirits and preserved food, railway iron, tins of lead paint, crates of rubber galoshes and even a cemetery headstone were revealed. Within days, heavy looting had begun. The wreck is now protected.

 

Bellambi Reef

1-15M

Lots of ships (more than 15) came to grief while trying to ship coal from Bellambi, or while trying to avoid the reef. The area is quite exposed and can only be dived when the seas are relatively calm, generally during Westerly or WNW winds. The ESE point has heaps of scattered wreckage, the wreck they came from too difficult to determine. The area is near a sewerage works, but recently this has been upgraded and water quality has improved. The site should be avoided after heavy rain. The reef is largely barren but some spots still have very large blue groper. From shore to the outer most visible bommie is covered in green seaweed and a series of gutters can be found also with some larger fish. The reef can be subject to strong currents at times and caution is needed.

Aldinga

3-4M

Struck the outer edge of Bellambi Reef on 20 Jan 1896 on a voyage from South Bulli with coal for Wollongong, all survived. The Aldinga was an iron screw steamer, 447 tons, 61.75m in length, built at Greenock, UK in 1860. Wreckage is scattered on the eastern tip of Bellambi Reef and mixed up with the “Saxonia”. The vessel had a new compound engine fitted in 1883 which can be used to identify the site.

 

Munmorah

Ran aground on the inner reef at Bellambi Point on 18 May 1949 while on a voyage from Sydney to Bellambi in ballast, all survived. The steel screw steamer was built at Leith, UK, 1934. The wreck lies 548m from the Bellambi Jetty.

For three years the Munmorah was a landmark at Bellambi. National servicemen used it as a target. Today, the rusting boiler of the SS Munmorah remains visible on the sea terrace at low water.

 

Resolute - This wooden screw steamer ran aground at Bellambi Reef, about 1 mile offshore while in ballast on a voyage from Sydney to Kiama for ‘blue metal’. Built at Auckland in 1883. The boiler is ashore, with scattered wreckage nearby in shallow water.

 

Saxonia - The ‘Maitland gale’ and a navigation error led to the loss of this iron screw steamer on Bellambi Reef on 17 May 1898. The coal for Bulli was lost but the 14 crew survived. The steamer was built at Hull, UK in 1856, 357 tons gross, 49.49m long.

 

At least 8 other smaller vessels were wrecked without identifiable remains.

 

Wreck of the S.S. “Bombo”

32M

GPS is 34° 26′ 46.5′ S and 150° 55′ 28.8′ E (AUS66)

The steel steamer “Bombo” was built in 1920 by H. Robb, Leith, Scotland for the State Metal Quarries. They ran a gravel quarry at Bombo, just north of Kiama supplying blue metal to Sydney.

In 1941 she was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy as an auxiliary minesweeper after German raiders and Japanese submarines began intermittently laying minefields along the coast. She served between Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart until May 1943. During early 1943 HMAS Bombo appears to have moved to Northern Australia. She was reported to have been used towing targets at Darwin Harbour. HMAS Bombo also ferried equipment and stores to Truscott Airfield. Seamen of the times commented that she was not very stable and always seemed to have a list to port. Bombo was part of a force that accepted the Japanese surrender at Koepang, East Timor. The Bombo was paid off, returning to its owners on 25 July 1947, and was doing daily voyages from Bombo to Sydney. On 22 February 1949, the Bombo left Kiama for Sydney with about 650 tons of metal aboard. Off Port Kembla, a southerly change hit, a huge wave went right over the ship causing a 5° list to port as the cargo shifted. Bombo turned around and head south for Port Kembla Harbour. The list increased to 30° and the Captain ordered that the lifeboats be lowered. Before this could happen, the ship turned over and sank, with the crew jumping into the sea. Four men went down with the ship. Another ten died before being rescued.

The wreck now lies upside down and partly buried with a big buckle in her keel. A pile of blue metal lies about 50 metres to the east of the wreck, where it tipped out during the sinking. The propellers at the stern are prominent and photogenic. Recent storms have further damaged the rear section of the hull and exposed more of the ship’s machinery.

She is almost in the middle of the shipping channel. Charter operators visit the site fairly regularly. The Harbour Master does not allow anchoring on the wreck as large cargo vessels frequently pass through nearby. Pick a day with few shipping movements and ring the Duty Officer at Port Kembla to get a final clearance.

 

 

Shellharbour/Bass Point

The Shellharbour area is regularly dived as a day dive from Sydney. Located about one and a half hours drive from the city. The most popular dive sites are found in or off this reserve which is just to the south of Shellharbour township. Most of the divers who come here just dive the shore diving sites.

Most of the shore diving is done from the usually sheltered Bushrangers Bay on the south eastern tip of Bass Point. There are also dives on the northern side when winds are southerly. There is a marine reserve in Bushranger’s Bay.

The council has been closing the whole Bass Point reserve during periods of Total Fire Ban.

 

Bushranger’s Bay

2-20M

This area is a marine reserve and offers usually sheltered. It is a steep climb down a set of steps to reach the water. The area around the steps offers easy snorkelling with quite a bit of smaller marine life to be seen on the small boulders. A little further away, newer divers will find 5-8 metres in the back of the bay and up to 20 metres at the entrance. Fish life includes bullseyes, luderick, bream, yellowtail, one-spot puller, white ear, and leatherjackets.  This dive site is protected from moderate southerly and northerly winds and seas.

 

The Archway

18m-25M

S34° 35′ 58.7″ E150° 54′ 07.2″ (WGS84)

 

This is located just south of the entrance to Bushranger’s Bay. The best way to dive The Arch is by boat. It is a moderately long walk to get to the entry point, or a long swim from Bushrangers Bay. Shore diving is only possible in very calm seas. The Arch is a rock tunnel running at right angles to the shoreline. The Arch is quite large, about 20 metres long, 10 metres wide and three to five metres high. The bottom is sand. On the western side, there is a moderate sized cave further along the reef. This cave has two chambers. There are often Port Jackson sharks lying around the site in Winter. A huge bull ray often patrols the site. Other fish life and invertebrate cover is good.

 

 

The Gutters

8-20m

The Gutters is a long split in the rocky shore with ledges for safe entry. This area is usually protected from southerly weather. The bottom Once you are in the water, descend to the bottom where it is about three or four metres. Start swimming out and down the gutter. In about 8M there are small boulders that are suitable for newer divers. They offer lots of smaller temperate fish species. For fit parties, the bottom continues to deepen for some distance and the gutter gets progressively wider and the kelp thins. There are small sponges and sea squirts on the rock as well as schools of bullseyes and ladder-finned pomfrets. About 100 metres it is about 20M and there are small ridges and crevices to explore. There are rays, red morwongs, leatherjackets, old wife, hulafish, bream, striped sea pike and sea dragons to be found in the general area, as well as rocks covered in gorgonias, nudibranchs, sea squirts and sponges.

 

Gutter Sponge Gardens

These sponge gardens lie further north of the Gutters entry point. The western wall of the gutters is followed until it ends in about 18M, then swim north for 40M, This will take you across some sand with rocks on either side. The depth drops to 20 metres to 23 metres as you reach the garden. There are sea tulips, and small gorgonia sea fans. The attraction is the smaller invertebrate and fish life such as squid, moray eels and pygmy leatherjackets.

 

Lou’s Pinnacle

12-30M

34.35.94S 150.54.48E (WGS 84)

This bommie off Bass Point Island offers excellent sponge and invertebrate gardens, especially on the southern side. The sponges start in as little as 18M and the bottom at 24-30m is carpeted in anemones and sea whips. Fish life includes eastern devil fish, wobbegongs, red snapper, squirrelfish and black banded sea perch. An excellent dive.

 

Gravel loader

2M – 12M

The gravel loader is easily seen as you arrive at the reserve. Now fenced off it is a fair walk to the site. The gravel loader extends 150 metres out to sea. It is never used. The best entry point is from the eastern side near the boat ramp. The loader is built over a low rock shelf. A large anchor can be found in the shallows as well as pieces if the “Kiltobranks”. She was a wooden steamer loaded with gravel that went ashore in 1924 after missing her mooring in a strong northerly wind. She lies in the surf zone to the west of the third pylon on the jetty and level with a building onshore. Nothing much is left of her. All around there is lots of twisted metal that has fallen from the jetty and even a truck. The pylons are covered in colourful invertebrate life and in good visibility the jetty is a spectacular sight. Fish life is on the small side but here is always something to see with red morwongs, striped sea pike, kingfish, tuna, silver drummer, one-spot pullers, yellowtail, old wife and bream. The small cryptic fish along the bottom is also interesting with cuttlefish, squid, moray eel, eastern hulafish, pygmy leatherjacket, sea horses, pipefish, firefish, butterflyfish and juvenile surgeonfish. The gravel loader is a sheltered in southerly winds and seas. It makes an excellent night dive.

 

 

 

Bass Sponge Gardens

5-25m

34° 35′ 55.6″S 150° 54′ 13.8″E (AUS66)

To the west-south-west of Bass Point Island there is a bommie that comes up to a few metres from the surface. The channel between the bommie and there is a wall on the Bass Point side in about 23 to 25 metres. The site is poor for invertebrates but has great fishlife, yellowtail, seapike, rays, one-spot pullers, nannygais, bream, luderick, blackfish, boarfish and Moorish idols.

 

Lou’s Reef – Bass Point Island

10-32M

34° 35′ 51″S 150° 54′ 22″E (AUS66)

There is a mooring in 23 metres on reef. The reef is gently sloping, with excellent sponge and gorgonia sea fans. The sand is in 26 metres. Closer to the island there are some vertical walls. South of the mooring in 10 to 12 metres, there are small cracks that runs north-south good fish life. On the southern side at 34° 35′ 57.3″S 150° 54′ 19.7″E (AUS66) there is another mooring in 20 metres. The reef near here is a steeply sloping into 30M, with excellent sponge and gorgonia sea fans . Closer to the island there are some vertical walls. There is good fish life including sweep, one-spot pullers, yellowtail, ladder-finned pomfret, old wife, leatherjackets, silver drummer.

 

The Humps

12-35m

Running from the north east tip of the Bass Point promontory there are a series of underwater humps from the size of a large house to large reefs. Hump One is a small, 50 by 30 metre reef at GPS Reading 34° 35′ 13″S 150° 54′ 42″E (AUS66). The top is 27 metres and the sand 35 metres. This reef only takes a few minutes to swim around. There are lots of sea whips, sponges and sea squirts all over the reef and nice walls on the eastern and southern sides. The western side has lots of gorgonias. The other humps are even more spectacular. This area is renowned for very large and colourful deep sponge reefs just packed with invertebrate life, ascidians, gorgonia, hydroids, nudibranchs, bryzoans. The fish life is terrific and the area offers some of the best diving in NSW.

 

Hump Wall

23-34m

34° 35′ 14″S 150° 54′ 36″E (AUS66)

This is a large section of reef to the east of the Bass Point peninsula. The bottom of the reef wall is 34 metres or so on the east and the top of the reef is about 23 or 24 metres. The wall has lots of sponges, sea squirts and small sea fans, but not many fish.

 

Slipper Reef

12-29m

34° 35′ 34.5″S 150° 54′ 21.2″E (AUS66)

The mooring is located on a large boulder in 23 metres. This area is known for one of the rarest fish in New South Wales, the male eastern king wrasse. Out in deeper water there are small boulders with colourful sponges, gorgonia sea fan, Fish life is good with one-spot pullers, old wife, drummer, bream and leatherjackets.

 

SS Cities Service Boston

 

The SS Cities Service Boston was a 141 metre long 8,024 ton tanker built by the Bethlehem Ship Building Corporation Ltd, Maryland, USA. She was built for Atlantic, Gulf and West Indies Steamship Lines and launched as the SS Agwipond in April 1921. The ship had been built to serve cities in Africa and India and she operated “like a floating oil market for small cities”. In 1929 the Agwipond was purchased by Cities Service Oil Company of USA and renamed.  She was requisitioned and used as an oil tanker during World War 2 to supply the Australian and Allied forces with fuel.

On 3 April 1943, The Boston left San Pedro California, bound for Brisbane, carrying a load of aviation fuel. The Boston sailed alone, zig-zagging as she crossed the Pacific and a month later discharged her cargo in Brisbane.  On 11 May 1943, the SS Cities Service Boston departed Brisbane as part of an 11 ship convoy PG 50. Off Coffs Harbour the Japanese submarine I-180 fired two torpedoes. One of the convoy, the Ormiston, was hit by one torpedo but made it to shore. The Caradale was also hit by a torpedo but it did not explode. The convoy reached Sydney. On 15 May 1943, the SS Cities Service Boston left Sydney in another 18 ship convoy for Melbourne. After Melbourne, the Boston was to travel alone to Iran to take on a load of fuel for Madagascar.

 

Leaving the protection of Sydney Harbour, a heavy sea was encountered and during the night, heavy rain fell. Due to the possible presence of Japanese submarines, the convoy was travelling as close to the shore. The captain was also concerned about hitting a nearby ship. At 0545 the ship’s bottom grazed a reef and then hit hard. Captain Bartolomeo knew the ship was mortally wounded and so he drove it further up the reef to avoid it sinking. The ship shuddered every time a wave hit. The waves were so big they were going over the funnel and most lifeboats and rafts were washed away. The crew were being winched ashore near high tide when a huge wave went right over the ship and hit the rocks were a group of soldiers had gathered to help in the rescue. Four soldiers died but only two bodies were ever found.

The SS Cities Service Boston was scrapped in situ. A rail track was constructed over the rock platform out to the ship. Contractors using oxy cutters began dismantling the ship. The salvage work continued for several months until what remained was too small to be safely worked on during high tides. All that remains are twisted pieces of metal and some bits of the engine and boilers. It can be dived from the shore at the north eastern corner of Bass Point Reserve and part of a boiler can be seen in the surf line from the shore

 

 

Phantom Reef

29M

This reef lies 15 metres under the surface, off the eastern end of the peninsula. The top of the reef is quite barren but there are small crevices, drop-offs and gutters with good fish life. There are red morwong, cuttlefish, moray eels, sergeant bakers, roughy and white ear. There are moderately interesting invertebrate gardens of sponges, sea fans and ascidians at 20 metres down to the sand at 29 metres.

 

Atchison Rk

26m

This is a tiny patch of flat reef a little south of Maloney’s Bay on the south side of the Bass Point peninsula. There is a very large invertebrate garden over the site bristling with fish, sea fans and sponges. Unfortunately visibility at the site is often poor. This side of the peninsula is often exposed.

 

Church Grounds

27m

This area offers a largely flat area of reef on the often sheltered northern side of Bass Point. It has moderately good fish life and is close to the boat ramp near the coal loader. It is s good site for days of rough southerly weather. It lies a little to the north east of the coal loader.

 

Kiama/Shoalhaven

The little town of Kiama offers nice holiday accommodation for the family and is a popular spot for a holiday. It’s mainly famous for the Kiama Blow Hole and the basalt headland is very attractive. The above water scenery is unfortunately better than the underwater scenery as Kiama diving is generally considered to be not as good as Bass Point, Wollongong, or Jervis Bay. There are also no dive services. It does offer boat access and some reasonable diving in good weather. It suited to people who are staying in the area, or seeking to explore a new spot with easy diving in relaxing depths.

 

Further south there are some shallow snorkelling and shore diving spots on headlands interspersed with long sandy beaches that are good for family outings. Off the coast of Shoalhaven there are a couple of exciting dives for experienced divers.

 

Blow Hole Point

2-20M

The headland, particularly the often sheltered northern side, offers good snorkelling and shore diving in the shallows that is popular with locals. If the sea is calm it is suitable for newer divers, and would also make a good night dive. The marine life generally is a little on the sparse side. Further offshore in 12-20 m there are gutters and a nice small sponge garden. These are adjacent to a sheltered entry point closest to the most northern car park. This areas has good fish life. You can see one-spot pullers, black reef and mosaic leatherjackets, schools of bullseyes, luderick, small snapper, yellowtail, seadragons and pike. . Shore divers should stay out of the way of rock fishers who get cranky with divers. The area around the blowhole can also be very interesting, but only in exceptionally calm weather, usually after westerly winds when there is absolutely no swell. The back of the cave is scoured, but the area around the entrance has schooling fish, rays, octopus and nudibranchs.

 

Blind Shark Reef

10-15m

S34° 40′ 02.3″ E150° 51′ 43.5″ (AUS66)

This small feature is typical of the area. Get a boat and just sound around until something interesting pops up. This reef is only 500 metres from the harbour entrance just to the east of the channel guides. It offers a low 5M wall on the eastern side. The bottom is relatively bare bottom but there are some interesting invertebrates and clouds of small fish.

 

Definite Reef

15-20M

This lies one kilometre off shore in moderate depths. Its a flatter reef mostly covered in kelp. Invertebrate life and smaller gutters can be found along the reef edge. Fish life is reasonably good.

 

Kendall’s Beach Caves

2-5M

This shallow dive is suitable for newer divers in good weather. The beaches lie 3km south of Kiama. Entry is from the Little Blowhole at Tingira Crescent. A long swim over shallow reef and sand takes you to Friar’s Cave. A torch is required to explore this shallow cave as it gets dark after the cave dog legs. A swim leads back into a shallow pebble beach at the end of the cave. It’s only accessible in good weather. The area can also be snorkelled. Its also good for a family day of easy diving mixed with walking and kayaking.

 

The Olgas/ Minnamurra Rf

24M

S34° 37′ 33.0″ E150° 52′ 29.8″ (AUS66)

This site is off Stack Island at Minnamurra about 5.5 kilometres north of Kiama Harbour. The sandy bottom contains some huge boulders creating small archways and overhangs. The boulders are covered in sea squirts, starfish, nudibranchs, sponges and some smaller gorgonia sea fans. The fish life is reasonably good with numbrays, bullrays, yellowtail and silver sweep.

 

Sir John Young banks

18-60M

GPS MARKS (AUS66)

18 metre reef

34° 57′ 01″S

150° 55′ 40″E

33 metre reef

34° 57′ 02″S

150° 55′ 42″E

40 metre plus reef

34° 57′ 03″S

150° 55′ 43″E

Northern Reef

34° 56′ 59.1″S

150° 55′ 41.6″E

The Sir John Young banks are located 16 kilometres off the coast from Crookhaven Heads. A series of reefs come up from well over 70 metres to 16 metres. It is s affected by strong currents and you need a large seaworthy private boat to get there. Very good weather is needed with winter the best time as seas are flatter for longer when the weather is calm. The site is difficult to find with no suitable visual marks. The depth starts at less than 16-18 metres on the reef top and drops in steps to more than 50m. The reef top is covered in kelp, while the depths offer sea whips, nudibranchs, sea squirts, and very colourful gardens of sponges. The fish life is magnificant with schools of pelagic fish and quite a few tuna, kingfish, hammerhead sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, grey sharks and even bronze whalers. Pretty scary if you aren’t use to seeing large sharks. The depth and currents make this dive only suitable for fit and very experienced air and technical divers. One of NSW’s premier adventure dives.

 

Shoalhaven Artificial Reef

30m

34.50.955 S, 150.47.731 E (WGS84)

 

 

A new artificial offshore reef about four kilometres offshore from Shoalhaven Heads and about six kilometres from Crookhaven Heads. Built at a cost of almost a million dollars, it was deployed in 2015 and is likely to be quickly colonised by marine life. It has been constructed using 20 purpose-built concrete artificial reef modules, each standing five-metres high and weighing over 23 tonnes.  The reef modules are designed to withstand a one in 100 year storm event. The design also deflects currents around the modules to create eddies and upwelling.  Unlike some new reefs in W.A. and Sydney, the authorities are currently relaxed about it being used by recreational divers. Expect some fishermen to get cranky about it though, in the mistaken belief that divers “scare away fish”, or somehow are a safety issue.