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David goes diving
David goes diving
Diving in Tasmania

Diving wonderland

Thursday, June 3, 2004
Fancy a trip to the bottom of the ocean? Take a dive through one of Australia’s most amazing underwater environments and meet some of its more unusual residents.

The Tasman Peninsula is Tasmania's prime tourist destination, with the convict ruins at Port Arthur, Devil's Kitchen, Tasman Arch and the Blowhole.

Eaglehawk Neck off the south-east coast has a landform which provides a great diversity of dive sites and snorkelling and the Eaglehawk Dive Centre gives visitors an experience to remember.

Even before you enter the water, the beauty is amazing. Massive cliff formations tower over 250 metres and continue underwater. Whales and dolphins are regularly seen in the area. There are dense forests, brilliant wildflowers, lots of wildlife and beautiful waterfalls.

Underwater are the Sisters Rocks, the wreck of the SS Nord, giant kelp forests up to 25 metres high, Hippolyte Rock's seal colony and Australia's best cave system.

Sisters Rocks are columns which give dives to 40 metres. They are home to enormous shoals of butterfly perch, long-finned pike, trumpeter and much other aquatic life. Photographic opportunities are excellent.

The 1057-tonne, 88-metre SS Nord was built in 1900 and sank in 42 metres of water near a reef in 1915. It is one of Tasmania's few intact wrecks and although the superstructure has collapsed, it still resembles a ship. It is covered in colourful marine growth and attracts a variety of fish. A number of artefacts can be seen, including brass fittings and Chinese china. This is a protected area suited to experienced divers.

Sites frequently dived here include Fortescue, Deep Glen and Shag Rock Bays. They support giant macrocystis kelp forests which tower to 30 metres. It is the world's second-fastest-growing plant, after bamboo. It is also home to the common sea dragon, sea horses, boxfish, jack mackerel and trevally. Access is by boat only.

Hippolyte Rock supports a small seal colony, though spotting them is weather-dependent. It has walls measuring more than 40 metres and is carpeted with sponges and yellow zoanthids. Needle Rock drops from four to 40 metres, the deeper part covered with sea whips. It is potentially a high current area and not for novice divers.

A major drawcard is the amazing weedy sea dragon. There are lots around, but they are very good at camouflage. They have more spectacular colours than some of their relatives, usually reddish with yellow spots and purple-blue bars. They grow to around 46cm.

Geologically, the region is mudstone/sandstone and erosion has created huge caves and tunnels. Cathedral Cave's base is at 21 metres, its entrance is massive and extends into smaller caverns, with narrow tunnels and cross passages. Walls are covered with invertebrates, a joy to photographers.


Eaglehawk Neck, one-and-a-half hours south-east of Hobart


Eaglehawk Dive Centre dives cost $39 and full equipment hire costs $75 a day. The best diving is between April and the end of August.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Eaglehawk Dive Centre
178 Pirates Bay Drive
Eaglehawk Neck 7179
Ph: (03) 6250 3566
Mob: 0417 013 518
Fax: (03) 6250 3764

Qantas: 13 13 13

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