Newcastle Diving Isn't Just Wrecks
Big Ben is the reef off Nobbies. Although it starts fairly close to the surface we are more interested in the deeper parts of the reef.
Big Ben comprises walls and drop-offs down to 24 metres. The deeper parts of the reef are littered with the remains of Newcastle's maritime history - large timber masts, and other pieces of old iron and timber.
The reef itself features colourful sponge and soft coral growth and has many caves, steep walls and swim-throughs. There is plentiful life to be found - giant bull rays, blue wrasse, visiting pelagic fish.
Because of its proximity to the Harbour Big Ben is best dived at high tide during a period of low rainfall.
Merewether Reef - The Mowie Hole
On its day one of the most awesome dives you could do. Totally boring when the water is cold - bare rock, no fish. Add a warm current and North Reef wall which drops from 12 to 27 metres comes alive. Mullaway. kingfish and giant snapper school in large numbers: there are plenty of bullrays and big wobbegongs, North Reef is all about big fish action.
Merewether Beach is an internationally famous surfing beach; but parallel to that famous sand is a reef that shares its name. Extensive diving along this reef by part of the Grey Nurse crew discovered the best section of this sandstone reef; the Mowie Hole.
The dive is named after of the red morwong that cover one of the few rocky areas of this section of the reef not completely covered with colourful sponge and soft coral growth. There are all the usual reef fish to be found here as well as grey nurse sharks, massive wobbegongs as well as the lobsters that like to hang with the big wobbies.
A rambling sandstone reef with depths that vary between 12 and 15 metres. A great dive for just about any diver but must for the macro enthusiast.
Newcastle Ocean Baths (Shore Dive)
This is a mystery reef not far from the Irresistible Wreck. What is it? Samples taken recently might finally answer the question. The reef bubbles ... especially when the water is warm. Fishermen's theories included dumped ship's ballast (in the form of limestone or even a load of cement but one look at the reef an this seems unlikely. Probably either a limestone outcrop but more likely to be the remains of ancient coral reef.
A highly jagged and layered outcrop rising from the sand at 23 metres to 13 metres this isolated reef shelters many reef fish under its many ledges.
A dive off the rock platform behind the Ocean Baths is a great dive when sea conditions are perfect - just about dead flat. The dive isn't deep with 9 metres being about the maximum but it certainly is worth it. Rocks sculptured by years of pounding seas into smooth curve; small caves and protected pockets of colourful marine growth. Fish-life so close to shore is amazing with massive wobbegongs, blue wrasse and black cod as well as all the usual smaller reef fish.
Merewether Ocean Baths (Shore Dive)
Like Newcastle Baths a dive off Merewether is also very sea dependent. Similar features with lots of small caves tio a maximum depth of about 6 metres.