Dec 062016
Colourful Lonsdale Wall

I love Lonsdale Wall. I love cave diving too, and the wrecks are pretty cool, but there’s something about this little stretch of brightly coloured, densely packed, huge variety of sponge life living in high velocity waters that makes for the best dives in Australia. The tidal flow in and out of Port Phillip Bay each day means there’s only a short window for diving. The top of the wall has a forest of kelp, but the underside of the underhangs is where it’s at. Between the carpet of yellow zooanthinds the sponges come in all different colours. The water absorbs colours at depth so a quick strobe flash lets me get a look at the pinks and oranges and [read more…]

Apr 022012
Panning shots on a drift dive

About the site The Heads of Port Phillip Bay are one of the more dangerous stretches of water in the world for shipping. A combination of huge tidal flow through the narrow entrance, wind conditions and the prevailing south westerly swell from Bass Strait can create incredibly unfriendly conditions in this small area. Even if the conditions are acceptable for diving outside the Bay, it can be impossible to transit the Heads to get to these dive sites. With nasty waves in the Heads, the attention turns to dive sites within the Bay. These include Pope’s Eye, a rock annulus in the middle of the bay, South Channel Fort and Chinaman’s Hat to play with the seal population. Lastly, parts [read more…]

Mar 122012
Bottles on the wreck of the Loch Ard

About the site The Loch Ard is one of the more famous wrecks in Victoria’s history. One of the last passenger sailing ships to travel from the UK to Australia as steamships began to take over; she made the journey in 13 weeks in 1878. Aboard the 3 masted square rigged ship were 36 crew and 18 passengers. After leaving England in March, the Loch Ard was nearing her destination in Melbourne when disaster struck in the early hours of June 1st. Captain Gibbs was expecting to sight land when the ship encountered heavy fog. Unable to locate the Cape Otway lighthouse, he instead spotted cliffs looming out of the darkness. Despite attempts to turn the ship using sails and [read more…]

Mar 052012
Friendly fish at the Grotto

About the site Melbourne sits at the northern end of Port Phillip Bay, and the heads open out into Bass Strait at the southern end. A comparatively large volume of water flows through a small heads entrance, leading to strong tidal currents each day. This water movements carries nutrients through the entrance, and when the water flow stops as the tide changes direction, great diving become accessible. Diving between the heads of the Bay is of necessity a well-timed activity, and one that’s well worth it. In some places the wall of the channel steps down from 12m reef flats at the top to over 60m deep in 5m blocks. The vertical walls are coated with soft corals and sponges [read more…]

Jan 092012
Colours of a temperate reef on Nepean Wall

About the site I’ve talked about the wall between the Heads of Port Phillip Bay before. A stunning dive at slackwater a short boat ride from Queenscliff on the west or Portsea or Sorrento on the east, several kilometres of colourful reef makes for hundreds of different dive sites. Boat passage through the Heads and out into the open ocean can be difficult when the weather is bad, restricting the access to the wrecks outside. However, some bits of the wall are always accessible at the right time of day although visibility can be very variable. Slack water dives when the tide has been ebbing out of the Bay and the ocean is about to flood in through the Heads [read more…]

Nov 212011
Australian Fur Seals on the safety stop

About the site Over the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to have seals drop in for a visit towards the end of my dives. Despite their considerable bulk and slow speed on land, these guys are easily able to turn a lap around a diver faster than you can turn to follow them. Luckily, curiousity will often bring them in for a closer look, craning their neck from side to side as they inspect the divers in their domain. About the dive This particular photo was taken at the end of a dive in the Heads of Port Phillip Bay. Slack water had just finished and I was gently drifting out to sea with the ebbing tide as [read more…]