This seaside town is close to both Sydney and the city of Canberra, so it is a popular spot for weekend excursions. The better diving is centred on the Malua Bay boat ramp along the area from the Tollgate Islands to Broulee Island.
There are greys nurse shark gutters, caves, arches, sponge gardens and dropoffs. There are also plenty of secluded coves offering easy shore dives and snorkelling.
Wreck of the Dureenbee
This small trawler was shelled and machine gunned by a Japanese submarine during the Second World War. She drifted before coming ashore 500 m south of Green Point, stranding 80m from shore. She is now scattered over a 50 square metre area and would barely be worth a visit but for her small part in our wartime history. Worth a snorkel and a photo.
This dive offers sponges, sea whips, sponges and sea tulips on a double ledged wall. The reef also offers large boulders, crevices and small caves. The site is also visited by seals.
Between November and March grey nurse sharks gather in the gutter between the main islands. Other parts of the island offer drop offs and sponge gardens.
This 3 kilometre long Island provides a number of different dive sites including an underwater chimney formation on the south side called the Arch. This is a 10 m wide indentation that narrows into a chimney that breaks the surface 15m above. There are also small caves on the South east side. They can get silty and dark with careless fin action. On the northern tip there is a bubble cave caused by divers air bubbles collecting an an underwater cave. It is the largest bubble cave in Southern NSW? While relatively sheltered from the swell, the islands are not renowned for much sea life in the shallows. In deeper areas there are good sponge gardens with colonies of sea whips.
GPS 35 4710 14.85
Another undersea cave in the area boasts a 4 metre long tunnel at its back that has worn through the reef and exits in open water. The tunnel is easily navigated and is 6 metres wide at the back. The cave is filled with bulls eyes and other fish life and has some interesting growth on the walls.
22m – 24M
GPS 35 46.87 150 14.85
A chimney like cave can be found in the area. A long sandy gutter with 10 metre high walls ends in 15m long cave that has had its roof collapse at the back to create an exit. The cave is 4m high, 3m wide , safe and well lit. There are some sea fans in the cave and plenty of fish.
Two rock formations 3 metres apart create a canyon walls. There is a variety of marine life on the walls including sponges, nudibranchs, slipper crays and anemones. Schools of fish are also attracted to the rocks
This area of small caves and swim throughs is popular with charters. The attraction is to ride the swell through one of the shallower swim-throughs. Fun to do once or twice I imagine, but not in a big sea.
GPS 35 50.13 150 14.10
This is a sandy gutter that fringes the northern side of Burrawarra Point. It is one of the best dives in NSW. The foreshore fringing reef area slopes down onto sand in 26M. A ten metre swim reveals a rock wall studded with sea fans an other colourful invertebrates. The fish life is also very diverse and colourful. The visibility is also often clear. This area can be current affected and is a boat dive for more experienced parties.
This photogenic and quiet shore diving site offers easy snorkelling and diving when the weather is suitable. Lots of small marine life can be found within the sheltered bay, with the option of a deeper scuba dive on the nearby reefs if the weather is calm.
GPS 35 46.89 150 15.16E
This deep reef sponge garden is one of the best in NSW in an area that is well known for excellent sponge gardens in relatively shallow water. The reef is one kilometre offshore and consists of a widespread field of ridges and gutters heading in all directions. The water is also often clear and the fish life is great.
This small island is attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus of sand and is usually too shallow and sandy for diving. There is a rocky reef on the seaward side of the island that offers reasonable diving in westerly weather. Here there are boulders and drop offs in the 10-20m range with a good representation of local temperate marine life.
The rocky headlands near Barlings Beach offer reasonable shore diving on weed covered reef. It is sheltered except in southerlies. Marine life is relatively sparse and it’s a good snorkel or beginners scuba dive in good weather. The diving is generally in the 6-10m range but with some deeper areas.
This is about the most popular shore dive in the area. The site is shallow but relatively sheltered and suitable for beginners in good weather. The cave isn’t especially dangerous and has some good fish and invertebrate life. On the down side it can be hard to find. At the car park near Broulee Beach there are steps leading into the water. An arrow has been chiselled in to the rock pointing in the direction of the cave. The boulders along the sea terrace are similarly marked with arrows. At the reef edge enter and swim left of a minute. The cave is 64 metres long but has numerous openings letting in light. It is exposed to southerly weather.
Wreck of the John Penn
The areas less than 10m deep are often covered in kelp or bare after a battering from the sea and sea urchins. In addition this area is a muddy bay. While sheltered, it doesn’t usually enjoy great visibility. The attraction is a big and very old wreck that will be of interest to wreck enthusiasts. The John Penn was built in 1867 using horizontal steam engines of an unusual and early design. As engines were unreliable, she also had to be able to use full sail, resulting in an odd hull shape. The wreck is 42m long.
She lasted only three years before meeting her doom. On a voyage from Tathra to Sydney with cargo and passengers she got off course and hit Burrewarra Point. She was reflate do but quickly filled with water and sank 500 m offshore in the southern part of Broulee Beach. She has now sunk into the mud up tithe waterline,with most of her superstructure missing. She is protected from all but strong easterly weather.
The Arch – Batemans Bay
35° 46′ 39″S 150° 14′ 45″E AUS66
Black Rock is located right off the main beach at Batehaven. On the southern end of Black Rock the reef drops away to 13 metres. Further south there is a large bowl shaped depression marking the entrance to The Arch, an open quasi cave. It is low, About 10M wide and quite long. To the left is a cave that is also interesting but it is a bit silty and full of wobbegongs. There is normally pretty good fishlife, especially in the cave. There are Port Jackson sharks, blue groper and eastern devilfish in the area. Under The Arch there are large patches of yellow zoanthid sea daisies as well as sponges, gorgonia sea fans and sea squirts. Along a wall to the north there is another large cave. An excellent dive in calm weather.
Bubble Cave – Black Rock
Bubble Cave is located on the north-western corner of Black Rock. It si close to the boat ramp and very popular. The sea floor consists of rocks and boulders. As you swim to the south-east and closer to the island, the depth comes up to nine metres or less. A bowl-like depression in the rocks at 15 metres is straight off the Bubble Cave. Swim to the back of the sand and you will see the Bubble Cave. Inside the cave an air pocket in 13M, created by diver’s exhaust bubbles can be found. It is big enough for three or four divers to enter. My preference is not to breath the air in the event that it is stale. There are also gutters and a large cave to explore to the south.
35° 47′ 04″S 150° 14′ 51″E AUS66
This dive is on a basalt reef noted for a large cave that opens out into a hole that exits the reef though the top of the cave. The GPS marks bring you to an underwater ridge to the south-east of The Chimney. Drop over a wall to the bottom a sand gutter runs in a north-westerly direction. Along the gutter the sides are covered in gorgonia sea fans and zoanthid sea daisies. A dark cave is the entrance to The Chimney. The depth comes up from 18 metres to 15 metres. After exploring the cave, there are boulders and crevices to explore in the surrounding area. Another excellent dive.
Walter Hood wreck
The Walter Hood, a ship of 937 tons, was built in Aberdeen in 1852. The Walter Hoodwas, at the time of launching, the largest sailing vessel ever built in Aberdeen. The vessel was named in honour of its famous builder. The vessel belonged to George Thompson’s White Star Line and was built expressly for the Australian-China trade.
The vessel’s maiden voyage to Sydney in 1853 resulted in a record run of 80 days from London. This was then matched by the fastest return from Sydney.
The vessel would commonly sail from England in the northern summer and arrive in Sydney some time just before, or after Christmas. The return voyage to England would be completed by the next northern summer.
General cargoes were typically traded. Manufactured and processed goods, luxuries and necessities were exported from London to Sydney, while wool, cotton and other raw materials were exported in return.
The Walter Hoodleft London on 22 January 1870 under Captain Latto. The vessel carried a general cargo, tiles, beer, iron bars, railway irons, cork, cement, wine, salt and even theatrical costumes.
The vessel encountered a heavy storm. The Walter Hoodwas stripped of sails and a seaman was killed. Next day, land was sighted amidst mountainous seas. The Walter Hood was crippled and did not have enough sails left to beat out to sea. Captain Latto attempted to tack the ship but the vessel was embayed.
At 7.30 pm, the Walter Hoodstruck a reef 200m off Wreck Bay. The survivors were trapped on board for four nights as the ship slowly went to pieces. The crew attempted to swim to the shore. Many could not swim and died in the surf. Others died from exposure while clinging to the hull. An injured Captain Latto was washed out of his cabin and drowned.
Finally on the fifth day the seas began abating, a few survivors left the wreck and managed to reach the shore in an exhausted state. The thirteen remaining on the exposed stern had been without food for three days and nights. In desperation they killed a small dog belonging to their Captain, ate its flesh raw and drank the blood.
The passing steamer Illalongarrived alongside a day later. By then, of the thirty five hands on board the Walter Hoodtwenty three were still alive.
Spectators arrived and fought over the most costly articles of flotsam, even the bodies of the drowned were robbed.
This is an easy dive in good weather and is best dived on a westerly wind. The bay’s rocky bottom has lots of gutters and overhangs to explore. Small sharks, morwongs, bream, blue groper, wrasse and leather jacket can be found. It is also suitable for night diving. Access is straightforward.
This rock lies a few hundred metres south of the Tollgate Islands. It attracts huge numbers of palagic and reef fish. Weedy Sea Dragons and other smaller marine life can also be found in the kelp beds on the bottom. Calm weather is needed to dive the site.
Dragon Rock Shark Dive
This site offers regular Grey Nurse shark sightings in February and March. The long gutters with coarse gravel floors provide are ideal for the sharks. A number of gullies and swim throughs in the area can also be explored. Snapper wobbegong and nudibranchs are also regularly seen.
Jimmy’s Island lies inside the Batemans Bay Marine Park. There are several areas in visited by charter boats. It is well known for good fish life including sea dragons. Jimmy’s Secret is a bommie a short distance off Jimmy’s Island. There are gutters, swim throughs and overhangs to explore. The major attraction is the rich fish life around the site.
Dack Reef is located inside the Batemans Bay Marine Park Sanctuary Zone. Large underwater rock formations are packed with sea fans and soft corals. Fish life is also good. A dive for experienced parties.
This is an easy and sheltered dive on the western side of Tollgate Island.¨ It is renowned for the Octopus found around the base of the bommies along the sand edge. It is also a good spot for nudibranchs, sea dragons, rays and other smaller marine life.