Broughton Island Dive Sites
Broughton Island is 14 km north-east of Port Stephens. The island itself is part of the Myall Lakes national Park and the surrounding waters part of the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park. There is no permanent residence on the island although there are fishermen's huts in Esmerelda Bay. Overnight camping can be organised with National Parks.
Grey Nurse Charters takes you to Broughton Island in a 30 minute boat ride from Soldiers Point boat ramp. We avoid the parking and traffic chaos of Nelson Bay.
North Rock is a small island on the northern side of Broughton; not very surprising considering its name. Just east of the Rock are a number of gutters frequented by grey nurse sharks (Carcharias taurus). These sharks hang around all year though in March -May they can be there in massive numbers. At Grey Nurse Charters we love sharks and we guarantee sharks when you dive here with us or your next dive is free!
Grey nurse look fierce but are harmless to divers who treat them with respect. Their reaction to divers varies between timidness and curiosity. We don't dump divers on the shark agglomeration; we have a circuit that allows the sharks to get used to divers, and divers to gain confidence, allowing very close interactions towards the end of the dive. Our tour includes areas where port jacksons and wobbegongs are often seen.
Depths at the site vary from 4 metres on the top of the reef down to about 17 metres.
The Looking Glass
When conditions are ideal you won't do a better dive than the Looking Glass anywhere! The main dive is in a narrow trench that goes through the island, Looking Glass Isle on the southeast side of Broughton. The maximum depth in the trench varies from 16 metres on the western side to 21 on the east. Grey nurse sharks often congregate in the Looking Glass and on a sunny day the site takes on a magical play of light and shadow.
Unfortunately Looking Glass is affected by even moderate seas and can easily become extremely surgey and undiveable. Safety of divers taking into account their experience is our primary concern when assessing whether to dive it or not.
Outside the trench itself are two very different dives that can be done on either the land or seaward sides of the Isle. The seaward side features jagged reef with gutters and tall bommies. Wobbegongs and more grey nurse can be found in this area. On the inward side the Isle's wall can be followed north to a second trench that leads to the "Cheese Grater" - a second cave through the island. It is very narrow and from personal experience not recommended for divers. Swimming south along the wall leads to a small cave in 21 metres often occupied by an eastern blue devilfish. The wall continues down to about 35 metres. The deep parts of the wall are covered by colourful marine growth.
The Bubble Cave
The Cave is found on the southern side of Little Broughton Island. The entrance is in 13 metres and the cave terminates at about 6 metres. As its name suggests there is a large air pocket in the roof of the cave. As with any underwater gas pocket it is recommended NOT to breath the gas but to use your regulator.
Outside the cave there is a rocky slope to explore that drops to about 18 metres.
The Spider Cave
Situated on a wall just outside Esmeralda Bay, the Spider Cave is a low diveable cave with two passageways and a number of entrances. The cave is in about 14 metres although the wall itself extends down to 18 metres in places. Inside the cave is abundant with life including bullseyes, wobbegongs and lobsters.
East Head on the southeast corner of Little Broughton Island drops down to a jagged reef that contains another grey nurse agglomeration site during the peak shark season March-April.
The reef wall drops down to well over 20 metres and has numerous small breaks to explore. The sharks themselves seem to congregate in a box canyon in about 22 metres.
The wall itself abounds with schooling fish and there is plenty of opportunity to explore the area and find new sites of interest.
The islands and peaks in the Port Stephens area are all volcanic in origin, remnants of a much more geologically active past. The Lava Tube is the remains of a cooled lava flow millions of years ago. Both ends have collapsed allowing divers access to the passage in about 12 metres of water. The walls of the tube are covered in colourful growth and a resident black cod is a regular sight.
The area around the tube consists of walls, gutters and swim-throughs with plenty of fishlife and lots of reef to explore. Depths of over 20 metres can be reached.
Elephant Rock is a protected site on the northern side of Broughton Island. It is named after the rock formation above it which, with imagination. looks elephant-like.
The site slopes gently away from the island with sandy gutters between masses of kelp growth. In these areas weedy seadragons can been seen.
As you go deeper areas of rocky reef can be explored down to 15 metres.