Often overlooked by the mecca sites of mainland Australia to the North, the island state of Tasmania has an abundance of dive sites that should be celebrated for their plethora of marine life and bountiful marine reserves.
With over 5,000 kilometers of coast and 45,000 hectares of marine reserves, Tasmania’s diving scene is split into various sections. To the east deep drop-offs and hundreds of thousands of zoanthids cover the walls in a resplendent flash of yellow as well as sponges and crinoids that contrast with a variety of other colors. Kelp forests, weedy sea dragons and wrecks highlight the other areas of the island’s marine world, here are some of the best sites in Tasmania.
While deep, 42 metres, the SS Nord sank in 1915 close to Hippolyte Rock. A great deal of the wreck is Intact and while over time some of the superstructure has given into time there are a great variety of marine flora and fauna that inhabit the old ship. A site for experienced divers only, due to the depth, the 289-foot SS Nord contains some intriguing brass materials and Chinese crockery in the interior. On a day where visibility can exceed 20 meters this wreck is perceived as one of the premier wrecks on the Australasian continent.
Fortescue Bay Giant Kelp Forest
A beautiful shore dive, be sure to dive through the giant strands of kelp close to shore. The temperate waters are warmest between January and march with increasing sightings of rays and seals as well as the the occasional sea dragon and draughtboard shark that make the dive instantly worth it. Close to the rocks be sure to look for abalone and southern rock lobsters. The kelp rises from the white sandy seabed and reach up to 15 meters in height, this is top opportunity for photo lovers looking for a wide angle image.
Paterson’s Arches & Waterfall Bay Caves and Caverns
Unlike the SS Nord, Paterson’s arches can be dived by all qualifications, just remember to have good buoyancy control. Full of invertebrate life, swim-throughs and caves, there is also an area to the back of waterfall bay where weedy sea dragons are seen frequently.
The most impressive cave is Cathedral Cave at Waterfall Bay. Deep catacombs and a soaring arch and dome bring schooling fish and brilliantly colorful invertebrates.
Governors Island Marine Reserve
50km north of Coles Bay lies the town of Bicheno, home to Governors Island marine reserve. There are over 15 dive sites here, and visibility is generally considered to be good year round. While the winter brings the best visibility, sometimes exceeding 20 meters, the eater temperatures are warmest in the summer, rising to 16 Celsius. One site, aptly names Everest is a pinnacle that rises from 40 meters to 5 meters, here you will find cavers, sponges, vibrant soft corals and sea grasses aplenty.
Trap reef is home to striped trumpeters, octopus and even the odd whale or dolphin that pass the site.