Jervis Bay

 

 

Wreck of the S.S.Merimbula

4-13 metres

GPS (AUS66) 150° 49′ 42″ E 35° 00′ 16″ S

 

The Merimbula was a twin screw steel steamship launched in Troon, Scotland in 1909. It was over 209 feet long and displaced 1111 tons. She was built for the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company. Merimbula was primarily a passenger vessel with some cargo capability. On 25 March 1928, the Merimbula left Sydney bound for Eden. At 1 am on 27 March 1928, sheran aground on Whale Point at Currarong. It was believed that the ship was salvageable, so there was no great rush to evacuate. Everyone got away safely. Salvors attempted to refloat the ship but failed.  She was blown open to recover brassware from her machinery spaces. The wreck soon slipped off the rocks and disappeared underwater. Parts of her are still visible today onshore, and if you aren’t up for a dive it makes an interesting walk out to the coast for a photograph. You need a boat to dive it on Scuba. The bow section is on the rocks and the wreck lays in a north-north east direction. She is now a jumble of steelwork concreted into relatively bare rock and covered in coralline algae. Lack of kelp cover means that the whole flattened wreck is laid out and clearly visible. The boiler, engines, anchor, winches, and propeller shafts are discernible and worth a photograph. The bottom surrounding the wreck and its small reef are sandy and make the site well lit and photogenic. This will excite wreck divers and possibly bore those who are not into that. The steelwork is home to sea tulips and ascidians and attracts small fish. The nearby reef has enough of interest for non-wreckies and there is good fish life in the deeper sections of reef. Calm seas are needed to dive the site.

 

 

Wreck of the SS Wandra

26M

GPS (AUS66) 150° 50′ 16.8″E 35° 02′ 47.8″S

The Wandra was a 36 metre long, 164 ton, wooden coastal cargo steamer constructed by D. Sullivan at Taree, NSW in 1907. She started life carrying timber from the North Coast to Sydney. On 15 December 1915 at 2pm, the Wandra left Moruya Heads with a cargo of timber for Sydney. One mile off Crocodile Head she was hit by large waves and shipped a lot of water. The hull’s timbers came apart under the pressure of the waves. She was run into shelter at The Drum and Drumsticks where the anchor was dropped. The crew got away and the ship foundered. The small wreck is of interest with intact machinery and props making for a good photograph. The large boiler is only metres from the reef. The load of timber carried by the vessel is scattered about the site. The visibility is often good and the sand around the wreck is patrolled by interesting rays and small sharks. A small but very interesting dive site.

 

Drum and Drumsticks

14-30m

Apart from the Wandra, the rest of the Drum and Drumsticks is also worth a dive. The best reef diving is on the northern and north-east side of the Drum (the largest rock). A very large cave (14-17m) is located on the north side and there are many small swim-throughs. The Drum and Drumsticks were used for target practice by the RAAF and RAN and rusty practice bombs lie about the area. They are most likely inert, but are best left alone just in case. An Australian fur seal haulout has also recently established itself on the island.

 

Smugglers Cave

12-33m

This is a shallow and large 150 metre long cave that cuts through a headland. While a worthwhile dive, very calm weather is needed. The cave is visible from the surface with cave floor in 15m. It then runs in a dog-leg shape to the narrow exit in shallow water. The walls are covered in small sponges and other invertebrates. A torch is needed, but light from exit points is visible throughout the dive.

 

Crocodile Head

10-23m

One of the more popular dive locations at Jervis Bay. This area is worth a boat trip for the scenery, consisting of high sandstone cliffs to the north of Jervis Bay. The dive itself is a very large arch visible from the surface. In very calm seas can you dive right through it. To the north there is another small cave to explore. Luderick and black reef leatherjackets aggregate around the entrance.  Even further along there is a small point. Head out to sea 100 to 150 metres into 30 metres. A 20 metre high wall in 50M depth called Crocodile Head Gorge can be found with the sounder.  The bottom is made up of sand with some large boulders. Sponges, sea whips, sea tulips, gorgonia sea fans adorn the rocks. Fish life includes eastern blue devilfish, wobbegongs, leatherjackets, kingfish, and school fish.

 

The Caves

12-21m

This site is just to the west of Crocodile Head consists of a small cave is normally home to a number of eastern blue devilfish. Further west is a very large cave. Away from the cliff there are some overhangs, swim-throughs and large boulders. A nice dive and protected from north-easterly winds.

 

The Arch

35m-37m

35° 05′ 05″S 150° 49′ 12″E (AUS66)

The actual dive site is located just a hundred or so metres to the north of the first point that you see as you round Point Perpendicular. A gully shaped split in the reef leads at one end to an arch shaped rock formation. In The Arch and you will see some excellent sponge and ascidian growth on the walls and roof. There is also normally good fishlife in the gully and under The Arch, including seapike, yellowtail and many species of leatherjackets. The depth at the top of the Arch is 28 metres are some great gorgonias, sponges and prolific fishlife. Nearby there are also some interesting boulder bottom to the east. This is one of the best dives at Jervis Bay.

 

The Whorehouse (Labyrinth)

20-26m

The site consists of very large flat rock which rests on a number of “columns” creating a dozen or more entrances and a huge open room and central pillar. There are more small swim throughs and crevices in the shallows to finish off the dive. Viz can be variable.

 

Point Perpendicular

34M

Point Perpendicular is the northern headland of Jervis Bay. There are numerous potential sites. The Sponge Gardens site is about half way along Point Perpendicular and is a bit deeper with an excellent sponge garden. A five metre wall at the 30 metre level has swim-throughs and overhangs. In the shallows there are numerous giant boulders dropping creating caves and swim-throughs. There is not a great deal of fishlife in this area  the main attractions are the colourful invertebrate life. Visibility is often good.

 

Pyramid Rock, Pt Perpendicular

7-24m

Confusingly there is also a Pyramid Rock nearby at Bowen Island. The reef steps down in a series of ledges offering walls and caves packed with marine life. This rocks end in a field of medium sized boulders on a sandy bottom. The fishlife is good with eastern blue devilfish, leatherjackets, morwong and one-spot pullers in large schools. One of the better dives at Jervis Bay, suitable for all divers and sheltered from the north-east. It can also be planned as a drift dive on an incoming tide.

 

Longnose Point

5-22m

This is a sheltered but not especially spectacular site. It offers some small walls and overhangs, with interesting fish life, cuttlefish, blue groper, wobbegongs, boarfish, sea dragons and moray eels. Suitable for beginners. It is a good place to see grey nurse sharks in the summer.

 

Bombora Reef

5 to 25m

Off the southern end of Longnose Point are some interesting ledges in various depths. The dive is suitable for beginners and has some interesting caves and gullies.

 

Darts Point

8 to 20m

To the west of Longnose Point is Darts Point. This point runs underwater for some way with a number of parallel ridges. An easy dive, suited to beginners, or when the weather is poor on the exposed cliffs. There is some small marine life.

 

Fairey Firefly VX381

13m

WGS84  35° 00’ 54.30” Longitude 150° 44’ 18.78”

RAN Fairey Fireflies were prop driven carrier borne anti-submarine torpedo bombers. They were based at nearby HMAS Albatross. On 27 November 1956, two aircraft (VX381 and WD887) flying over Jervis Bay. Sub Lieutenant Eagles and Midshipman Debus were flying VX381. Sub Lieutenant Arundel and Midshipman Fogarty were in WD887.  VX381 and WD887 were flying circles in opposite directions when the wingtip of VX381 collided with WD887. One third of VX381’s wing tip was gone but the pilot kept her in the air and made a Mayday call. Then he glided down onto the bay, shutting off the engine before hitting the water. Both were rescued by a helicopter scrambled from HMAS Melbourne.WD887 crashed, perhaps towards Husskison, both crewmen were killed and the wreck is still missing.

In 1983 VX381 was found. It is surprisingly intact considering the violence of the crash.  It is very difficult to locate on a silty bottom covered in green seaweed. The plane faces east and sits flat on the sand. The starboard wing is either buried. The port wing is largely buried under the sand with the tip poking 300mm out of the seabed. The tail is intact, although the tailplane and wings are starting to fall apart.The engine is still there, with the propeller blades intact and worth a photo. The Viz can be variable and is often poor. It is a very interesting and different dive, but by its nature so small that half a tank will do it. It is possible that VX381 saw service in the Korean War on the Sydney.

Do not anchor on the wreck, but drop a weighted marker and anchor nearby. The wreck is thin aluminium and is easily damaged.  A preserved example of the Firefly can be seen in the nearby Nowra RAN museum

 

 

 

 

Middle Ground

24m

GPS 35° 06′ 29″ S   150° 46′ 00″ E. (AUS66)

For a bit of a change, this site offers a broad expanse of low reef in the middle of the entrance to the bay. There reef flows in a north-west to south-east direction. The reef is a poke around and explore, only rising a couple of metres off the sandy bottom. It is sometimes dived when other sites are blown out.

 

Scallop Beds

12 m

Inside Bowen Island are the scallop beds but fishing is not permitted. It is just an exploratory dive for photgraphers looking for different fish out on the sand.  It is also a wothwhile night dive.

 

The Nursery

3-10m

This is located inside the north western point of Bowen Island and offers an easy and protected dive with plenty of small fish. The reef consists of small walls, cracks and isolated rocks. The reef on top is in 3 to 5 metres.

Fishlife in this area includes yellowtail, pike, luderick, one-spot pullers and bream. It is also suitable for a night dive.

 

Aztec Reef

5-18m

GPS 35° 06′ 49″S 150° 45′ 58″E. ( AUS66 )

This is located right at the north-western point of Bowen Island. It is known as a good dive site with lots of fish. Aztec Reef is located on the north-western corner of Bowen Island. It consists of a low reef wall which has strange “inscriptions”, actually just a species of algae. Currents can be strong at times. The inshore reef has a very large variety of fish, yellowtail, pike, luderick, seadragons, one-spot pullers, large stingrays, cuttlefish and bream.

 

North Bowen Island

5-28m

This area is very sheltered and offers lots of swimthroughs. The bottom consists of many small boulders covered with smaller sponges, gorgonias and sea squirts It also has very good fish life. Squid and sea dragons can be seen along the sand edge. Kingfish and many species of leatherjackets can also be seen. Inshore in the shallows huge boulders create swim-throughs in 5 metres to 10 metres. The fish life consists of yellowtail, one-spot pullers, pike, bream, luderick, stingrays and blackfish been the most common.

 

Little Egypt

10-33m

35° 06′ 58″ S and 150° 46′ 16″ E (AUS66).

This dive is located on the north-eastern corner of the island where there are five pyramid like rocks located on the edge of the island. There are some nice swim-throughs, overhangs and large boulders. Prolific fish life can be found in the shallower water, eastern blue devilfish, sea dragons, six-spined and black reef leatherjackets. In the shallows where there are even more caves and swim-thoughs. There are sponges, sea squirts and sea whips in the sheltered rock faces and crevices.

 

The Boulders

12-24m

Anywhere off the eastern side of Bowen Island offers a good dive. About halfway along the island there are large boulders with good fish life.

 

Elles Cave

8-17 m

Located just to the south of Pyramid Rock, Elles Cave is L-shaped, with a large entrance facing the north-east. The depth here is 17 metres and it shallows to 8 metres as it exits back into the bay. Good diving can be found all around the adjacent area.

 

Spider Cave

7-24m

35° 08′ 19″S 150° 45′ 48″E (AUS66)

Located only a short distance from Elles Cave, the cave has three entrances on top of one another. The cave extends back about 100 metres. A swim through the cave passes by the other entrances as the cave narrows and shallows. Although the opening is not readily apparent it does exit in the shallows in 7 metres.

 

Stoney Creek

38-55+m Technical Dive

This is considered to be an extraordinary dive, one of the best in NSW. The site drops from about 38 metres in a shear wall to the sea floor at over 50 metres. The wall is covered in marine invertebrates in all the primary colours, sea whips, gorgonias, sponges and sea squirts. This is a deco dive on air, but better done by experienced divers as a tech dive. The currents can be very strong and a high level of fitness is required.

 

Darts Point

10-20m

The reef close to the shore is in 10 metres where there is a 2M high wall. To the south the reef gets deeper on a boulder bottom. The boulders are covered in sponges, sea squirts, gorgonias and other life. There are the usual fishlife here, including some small rays, giant cuttlefish and various species of leatherjackets.

Once you hit the 20 metres, turn to the south-east and you will ascend to about 13 metres. It is now time to cross over the ridges. These are only a metre or so high and there are two or three of them. You are now heading to the north or north-east and eventually you will be on the sand again. Follow the sand edge (about 8 metres deep) to the north or north-east until near the boat and then cross the sand to do your safety stop under the boat.

 

Pyramid Rock – Bowen Island

23-36M

35° 07′ 28″S 150° 46′ 16″E (AUS66)

Bowen Island sits just off the southern headland of Jervis Bay and provides a protected anchorage from the sometimes strong southerly weather. A large pyramid shaped rock on the shoreline at the south-eastern end of Bowen Island marks a good dive site. The dive consists of a wall is about 10 metres high, extending at least 200 metres. All along the wall there are small overhangs and cracks, with beautiful invertebrate life such as sponges and gorgonia sea fans. The sand has hundreds of sea-whips and tiger anemones. The fish life is variable but includes bastard trumpeters, firefish, yellowtail, pike, kingfish, eastern blue devilfish, bonito and many species of leatherjackets. I have also seen in amongst the rocks and under the walls.

 

The Docks

5-21m

GPS 35° 05′ 01″S 150° 47′ 41″E –(AUS66)

The Docks is probably the most popular dive site at Jervis Bay. The Docks is located on the northern side of Jervis Bay. It is also a popular night dive. The reef does not extend far from the shore. There are many caves and swim-throughs. The Double Decker Cave consists of two caves, one on top of the other.  The Vertical Swim-through is a vertical tunnel/cave that drops from the back of a large rock straight down before turning horizontal and exiting on the sand. Long Cave, Deco Rock Cave and Slot Cave are other features. This site has excellent fish life, eastern blue devilfish, sea dragons, bull rays, wobbegong, cuttlefish, luderick, long snout boarfish, snapper and talma. Ascidians, sea squirts, gorgonias and sponges adorn the walls. The visibility can be quite varied. The area is a popular Marlin fishing spot as well, one of the few areas where these spectacular fish can be caught from the shore. Also not the rusty base of old WWII torpedo tubes that were set up on a nearby platform.

 

The Torpedo Tubes

This site is close to Point Perpendicular. It is protected from northerly winds and seas. This is a very popular spot for onshore angling and some fishermen here can be aggressive towards divers.

 

 

Steamers Headland Seal colony

Australian Fur Seals are established in the south of the bay. The seals are there year round.  .They can be snorkelled or dived with and tend to be curious towards divers.

 

Hyams Beach

8-10M

This is one of the better shore dives at Jervis Bay. Ledges ran parallel to the shore offering smaller reef fish and lots of wobbegongs. There is a concrete boat ramp off Cyrus St. From the boat ramp swim out due east for 100 metres. The site is not suitable during easterly swells or north-easterly winds.

 

Murrays Beach
2-10M

The shore dives around JB are as a general rule, not as good as boat dives. But they can be very relaxing if you want to do your own thing. Along Jervis Bay Road is Murrays Beach, a highlight of the reserve and worth a wander after the dive. Before the beach there is a boat ramp at a small beach with rocky outcrops. Both Green Patch and Murrays Beach boat ramp are good for diving and snorkelling. There is shallow rocky reefs, seagrass meadows and small caves.

 

Honeymoon Bay
2-10M

Access to Honeymoon Bay is restricted and the boom gate isd often closed during the weekdays, but it offers good diving. It is a secluded, almost enclosed, little sandy bay 10km from Currarong along the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse Road.  Once there entry is easy and the Shallows offer safe family snorkelling. Out of the heads the site offers nice rocky reef diving. In Summer the sea floor is covered in Port Jackson sharks. The site is occasionally closed during military exercises and you need to look out for notices for the Beecroft live firing range.