Where to scuba dive in Brisbane?
While visitors flock to the Great Barrier Reef to revel in the worlds most famed dive location, there are those who choose to explore the waters closer to their Brisbane home. These divers are rarely disappointed. Here is a collection of some of the best offshore sites close to the capital of Queensland.
Flinders Reef is located to the north west of Moreton Island in the Coral Sea. The pristine reef has one of the largest concentrations of subtropical coral species on the Australian east coast. Protected by the Australian government for many years and sustained by the Reef Check conservation programme, marine life flourishes making Flinders an extremely popular site for scuba and freedivers. With more than 175 fish species, Flinders reef has the richest areas of marine flora and fauna of all the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian Army Wreck ‘Crusader’ was sunk close to the reef and has become a popular site for wreck enthusiasts. Depending on seasonal water temperatures and plankton blooms, divers may encounter Mantas, wobbegong, leopard sharks as well as an occasional whale shark and humpback whale. Large schools of trevally and bat fish often engulf divers allowing unique photographic opportunities.
Curtin Artificial Reef is a man made scuba diving success story, a collection of over 30 wrecks cluttered and sunken together off the west coast of Moreton Island since 1968 by the Underwater Research Group of Queensland. There are ships, cars and pontoons that are accessible by divers. The visibility can be poor and divers should be of advanced standard as the bottom can become disturbed by fin kicks causing difficult conditions. The Bremer is the largest wreck, a 50 metre coal barge that is an impressive sight as divers descend to depths of 27 metres. Some of the wrecks are as shallow as 12 metres and with nitrox can be dived upon for hours at a time, best seen during a fantastic drift dive if timed right. Keep your eyes on the surface, there is the chance to encounter schools of eagle rays and barracuda.
Cherubs Cave was named for the small concrete cherub that marked the entrance to this spectacular cave. While the cherub has vanished over time, the cave remains a popular spot for divers. With a depth exceeding 30 metres, divers must be cautious of their air supply and make sure to bring lamps to illuminate the darker recesses of the cave. Overheads and gullies are a constant danger, yet are home to eels and Grey Nurse sharks as they make their way out of the shadows and hang lethargically in the light. Wobbegongs, turtles, eagle rays and large groupers are often seen.
Henderson Rock is not as well known as the other Moreton Bay sites, yet perhaps it should be! With deep ledges and caves, Henderson Rock is home to large populations of Grey Nurse Sharks and Wobbegong. Strong currents that run from the north will bring pelagic species close to the rock such as barracuda and jacks. Diving is possible year round, due to water temperatures rarely dropping below 20 degrees Celsius.
NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND
Manta Bommie gives divers the rare opportunity to witness a majestic event. A cleaning station for Manta Ray’s. From April to November Manta Bommie is home to the manta rays but also leopard sharks, wobbegongs, eagle rays and bull rays feed in the clean yet nutrient rich waters. With sandy bottoms as well as rock strata, the dive is achievable for many qualifications and ages. With up to 50 different mantas congregating to the cleaning station, Manta Bommie, justifies its magnificent status.
Flat Rock is a more advanced site due to depths of up to 30 metres, however, shallower sections are accessible for open water divers as well. Flat Rock is within a green marine parks zone and surrounded by several sites, the most famous one being Shark Alley. From May to about October, Shark Alley is home to a solid Grey Nurse Shark population. With gutters, gulley’s and canyons like veins in the rock strata Flat Rock and Shark Alley is a perfect area to spot these eccentric looking sharks in winter months as they swim from one alley to the other.
THE GOLD COAST
With only a 45min drive away from Brisbane CBD to Runaway Bay Marine, the Gold Coast belongs to Brisbane dive sites as much as Morton Island and Straddie. The Gold Coast dive sites offer a variety of reef and shipwrecks and is suitable for all experience levels. The most famous dive sites are the Scottish Prince Shipwreck and Palm Beach Reef. The rocky reefs see all sorts of marine life including leopard sharks, turtles, bull rays, woebegone sharks, soft coral and more.
Gold Coast Dive Adventures runs regular day trips to some of the best local dive sites.