Some of Australia's most interesting and diverse scuba diving sites are found along the 2000 km New South Wales coastline.
Marine life varies from subtropical reef species in the north, to dense sponge gardens and associated organisms in the temperate waters of the south and is excellent for underwater photography .
This mixing results in a rich diversity of species is equalled by few locations in the world and many of the dive sites provide a good opportunity for snorkeling and snorkel diving.
This huge rock at 30 metres off Roach Island, Lord Howe Island was found to have over 70 species of marine life on it. this is only a fraction of the wonder and beauty that can be seen by underwater explorers along the islands and coastline of New South Wales. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Along the State's northern coastline, divers often see turtles, tropical fish, Queensland gropers, leopard sharks and manta rays. In the south, giant cuttlefish, octopi, a wide range of invertebrate species, moray eels, weedy sea dragons, sea horses, territorial blue gropers, large pelagic fishes, and fur seals are all plentiful. Members of the shark and ray families are numerous, wobbegongs, Port Jackson sharks, grey nurse sharks, stingrays, fiddler rays, and electric rays.
Captain Cook could never in his wildest dreams have imagined that within 200 years of his proclaiming Australia for England that people would swim with visually breathtaking sharks and not be devoured alive.
It is images such as this one which pumps the adrelin through anybody that has a pulse. The opportunity to be part of a scene like this excites the adventure in all of us and to know that it is all posssible when diving New South Wales illustrates that Scuba Diving is the Greatest Adventure Experience on the Planet.
( photo: Peter Hitchin, South West Rocks Dive Centre)
Captain Cook first sighted this rugged and varied coastline in 1770. He stepped ashore at Botany Bay, claimed the continent for England, and mapped much of the coastline. The First Fleet followed in 1788 and established a penal colony at Farm Cove at Port Jackson, one of the world's great natural deep water harbours. The town of Sydney slowly grew into a prosperous city. Today, the city and surrounding suburbs are spread over an area of approximately 5000 sq km, home to over 4 million inhabitants.
Tourism is one of the State's strongest growth industries. The majority of international visitors to Australia pass through Sydney at some stage during their holiday, and with Sydney hosting the Olympics in the year 2000, the tourist numbers are set to rise.
Other State attractions include deserts in the west, snow skiing in the Snowy Mountains, Canberra's museums and memorials, spectacular bush walks in the Blue Mountains and surfing at sandy beaches along the coast.
With hundreds of beaches on its shores New South Wales is one of the most picturesque holiday destinations across the nation, and the fact that most are surfable ads to the attraction. Of course the divers would prefer less swell, but if it was not for the currents and swells their would not the diversity of marine life that we are accostomed to. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
The New South Wales diving industry has established an international reputation for excellent sites in a number of holiday areas, the southern-most coral reefs in the world around Lord Howe Island, the sponge gardens at Jervis Bay, the grey nurse sharks at Seal Rocks, and the reefs off Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour. New South Wales has several marine reserves, but many areas are threatened by over-fishing. Some dive shops run trips to areas which the dive operators themselves have nominated for protection, and you may find that they have placed a ban on removal of anything from these reefs. Please respect these self-imposed bans to ensure the future of these areas.
Some might find the idea of shore dives unexciting, however, these inexpensive dives are often some of the most interesting in the State. Off the New South Wales coastline are thousands of islands, reefs, pinnacles and shipwrecks supporting an incredible variety of marine life. Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands (Australian territories) are surrounded by superb diving sites, inhabited by many fish species endemic to these islands and the nearby Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs. West of Sydney, at Wellington and Jenolan, are a number of fresh water caves, full of spectacular limestone formations.
There is little doubt that Lord Howe Island must be the most visually stunning island in the South Pacific. It is an island with everything for the family holiday and still provides the most adventuresome activities for those seeking to improve their heart rate. It is a magnificent masterpiece of unique real estate protected for all time by its place on the World Heritage listing and a vital Marine Park status. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Another interesting dive site, located south of Canberra, is an underwater town in Lake Jindabyne, which disappeared after the construction of a dam. Divers find it an eerie experience swimming around the ruins of houses and seeing household items among the wreckage. Trips to these unusual sites are organised occasionally by dive clubs and dive operators from both Sydney and Canberra.
The climate in New South Wales varies greatly. Over summer, the daily temperature ranges from 24-29¼C, with a minimum of 12¼C, while winter sees daily temperatures from 12-18¼C, with a minimum of 0¼C. Diving conditions are generally good year around, but winter brings the most stable weather, as westerly winds flatten the seas and clear blue ocean currents sweep the coastline. Since the water temperature varies from 20-25¼C over summer, 5 mm wetsuits are worn year around. A hood is needed over winter, as the water temperature can range from 12-16¼C.
Visitors can explore the State by car, train or bus, and most of the major centres of population have airports which are serviced by regional airlines. Accommodation in New South Wales is of an excellent standard and caters for every budget. However, some areas are very busy during the holiday periods, so book your accommodation in advance.
Neville Coleman's diving expeditions, fauna surveys, photographic fauna surveys and marine life identification courses include every major group of marine life.
Neville Coleman's expertise in living taxonomy and marine life identification extends to the identification of Algae, Sea Grass, Mangroves, Forams, Sponges, Stony Corals, Soft Corals, Sea Anemones, Sea Jellies, Zoanthids, Corallimorphs, Black Corals, Flatworms, Segmented Worms, Crustaceans, Barnacles, Shrimps, Rock Lobsters, Hermit Crabs, Squat Lobsters, Molluscs, Chitons, Univalves, Bivalves, Cephalopods, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Squid, Opisthobranchs, Nudibranchs, Sea Slugs, Bryozoans, Sea Mosses, Echinoderms, Sea Stars, Feather Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Ascidians/Sea Squirts, Marine Fish, Sharks, Marine Reptiles, and Marine Mammals, all found in the waters off the New South Wales coast.
( Copyright Neville Coleman/Nigel Marsh)