New South Wales (NSW) offers a spectacular variety of year-round diving also due to the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Located just north of Coffs Harbour, a friendly beachside city surrounded by natural environment and uncrowded beaches, the marine park has over 25 dives sites to explore with a unique blend of both warm water and temperate water marine life, depending on the season.
The opportunity of diving with the Grey Nurse Sharks is popular in these parts and Humpback Whales also frequent these waters during certain parts of the year. One of the Grey Nurse Sharks critical habitat sites is Green Island, a small rocky/grassy island close to the coast that is very easy to recognise. This dive site has an average depth of 14 metres, with a maximum depth of 18 metres, and apart from the grey nurse sharks, the site is alive with a huge variety of fish, large rays, and turtles.
But there is much more to explore - Fish Rock Cave is what most people come to South West Rocks to dive. One of the southern hemisphere's longest ocean caverns at 125 metres is a superb dive - it's the only true ocean cave dive one can find in Australia. Apart from turtles and masses of schooling fish which feed in the passing currents, the grey nurse sharks are also found here in large numbers most of the year. But that's not all, although the Rock is usually prone to current, it is this current that brings the nutrients to the area and attracts the fishlife. Expect to see schools of pelagics, giant Queensland grouper, rare black coral gardens, anemones, clownfish, shells, lionfish, lobsters, large stingrays, migrating humpback whales and much, much more.
One of the dive operaters of the area, who run daily charter dives to Fish Rock, the South West Rocks Dive Centre, is a family owned and operated scuba diving business that's been around for 35 years. Located in the sea side town of South West Rocks on the mid north coast, they are well recognized as an industry leader in the Australian dive community, and throughout the years, they have grown itself to become a truly international business.
You can even go up into the bubble cave and talk to your dive buddy while being five metres underwater!
The dive center offers large capacity steel and aluminium cylinders for longer dives, rental gear and free Nitrox and tanks for all divers, and all dives are guided by professional Dive Masters, who know their home turf like no other and will ensure that you get the most enjoyment out of your diving at South West Rocks. Check their website for more information.
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All in all, the Rock and its surrounds offer some spectacular dives and opportunities to view the abundant marine life that congregates around this renowned spot. Whether you want to experience up close and personal shark encounters, or Australia’s No.1 cave dive, then NSW delivers.
Photos: © South West Rocks Dive Centre