There are many excellent scuba diving and snorkeling sites accessible from Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.
Roy Rufus Artificial Reef wrecks have been down for quite sometime and have attracted thousands of resident and visiting fish, making a memorable dive experience and many opportunities for underwater photography.
As well as turtles, there are gropers, coral trout, rock cod, bream, kingfish, trevally, angelfish, scorpionfish, butterflyfish, sweetlips and surgeonfish and a host of other species to marvel at.
Green Turtles Chelonia mydas visit the Roy Rufus Artificial reefs in order to indulge in the excellent shell -cleaning services performed by the surgeonfish and rabbitfish. (photo: Nigel Marsh)
Diving the Whales Playground
There are many excellent dive sites accessible from Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, including Two Mile Rock, Four Mile Reef, Rooney Point and Moon Ledge. Most of the dive sites offer good diving all year round, and even in rough conditions Fraser Island shelters many of them from all but the worst weather. A number of dive shops in both Bundaberg and Hervey Bay operate charter trips to the best sites in the area, and will give advice on shore diving.
Giant Rockcod ( Gropers) Epinephelus lanceolatus inhabit the wrecks feeding on the huge variety of fish, crabs, rock lobsters and turtles. (photo: Nigel Marsh)
Roy Rufus Artificial Reef, the largest artificial reef in the Southern Hemisphere, is one of the most popular dive sites in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area. Since 1968, members of Maryborough Skindivers inc. have been sinking old ships, concrete blocks, car bodies and tyres to create this haven for fish and other marine life in 18 m of water. The effort has been very successful: masses of fish congregate on and in the wreckage, gropers, coral trout, rock cod, bream, kingfish, trevally, angelfish, scorpionfish, butterflyfish, sweetlips and surgeonfish.
Found along the Queensland coast and offshore islands and reefs, Yellow – tail Kingfish Seriola lalandi are generally seen in schools and small groups. They are fast swimming predators feeding on the large schools of baitfish which the wrecks attract. (photo: Neville Coleman)
Schooling Yellow – lined snappers Lujanus rufolineatus congregate around the superstructure of many of the wrecks and these in turn provide prey for the larger carnivores.(photo: Nigel Marsh)
Other marine life observed on the artificial reef includes sea snakes, wobbegongs, stingrays, turtles and even dugongs. Divers will find the shipwrecks the most interesting areas to explore. With a little care they can be safety entered, so remember to take a torch. The only thing to watch out and be careful of when diving on the reef are the numerous stonefish.
As the southern-most gateways to the Great Barrier Reef, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay both have a good range of accommodation and places to eat.
Diver with a large male Narrow- banded Sergeant Abudefduf bengalensis which is guarding eggs laid by a passing female. As small as they may be, the males are very territorial and when they have eggs they are quite pugnatious and will chase away every threat. (photo: Nigel Marsh)
A spy-hopping Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae checks out the whale watchers on one of the many charter boats that work out of Hervey Bay during the whale watching season. (photo: Neville Coleman)
Hundreds of thousands of whale watchers visit Hervey Bay and have turned a whaling industry into a whale watching industry. This eco – tourism business has grown from success to success and serves as a living monument as to what can be accomplished with a little enterprize and good management. (photo: Neville Coleman)
Whale watching is definitely Hervey Bay's most popular attraction. Each winter hundreds of humpback whales rest in the bay after breeding in the northern reef waters, and each winter thousands of tourists visit Hervey Bay, hoping to catch a glimpse of these giant marine mammals.
Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, is a popular area for camping and 4WD adventures. Features of the island include clear lakes and streams, abundant wildlife, sand dunes, sand formations and unique rainforest.
Bundaberg Shore Dives
The Long – nosed Coralfish Chelmon rostratus is just one of the many fish and invertebrates which can be seen around the coastal reefs . The water along the coast may often be stirred up during summer by rough seas and run off from rains, but in the winter when the offshore winds blow and the water clears, the marine life is just magic, with fantastic critters everywhere. My first dives at Bagara in 1969 were unbelievable, I never imagined so much colour could exist so close to shore.(photo: Neville Coleman)
The rocky shore line around Bundaberg has encouraged the growth of many coral gardens just off it. The area from Burnett Head in the north, to Elliott Head in the south, offers dozens of fascinating shore dives in depths to 9 m. These coral gardens abound with marine life. Nudibranchs, hermit crabs, cowries, flatworms, sea stars, brittle stars, shrimp and crabs are just a few of the many invertebrates that are easily found. Small reef fish, butterflyfish, goatfish, rock cod, lionfish, angelfish, damsels and several wrasse species, are particularly common. You will also find wobbegongs, epaulette sharks, turtles, stingrays and even inquisitive sea snakes. Winter is the best season to dive the area, as the seas are calmer and the water clearer.
Even more outstanding are the number of nudibranchs found along the coast. Gary Cobb has recorded over 400 species off the Sunshine Coast and there should be just as many off the Bundaberg reefs. This Red – lined Flabellina Flabellina rubrolineata is in the process of laying eggs. (photo: Neville Coleman)
This offshore rocky reef is small in area, but big in marine life. The reef sits in 22 m of water and can be circumnavigated many times before you run out of bottom time. Many species of fish live on this isolated patch, angelfish, kingfish, batfish, trevally, barracuda, lionfish, cobia, coral trout, sweetlips and moray eels. Huge schools of baitfish sometimes engulf the reef, and manta rays have been seen hovering, being cleaned by the resident cleaner wrasse. Turtles, stingrays and wobbegongs are also frequent visitors. Looking past the fish life, divers will find scattered coral growth and a mixed bag of invertebrates. This is the type of dive where a roll of film disappears quicker than your bottom line.
Clumps of Spikey Soft Corals Dendronephthya sp. are quite common and often contain miniature egg cowries. (photo: Neville Coleman)
The exquisite uniqueness of each species of Butterflyfish make them favourites for most underwater photographers. Mertens Butterflyfish Chaetodon mertensii occurs across the Indo – Pacific region. (photo: Neville Coleman)
This up-turned plane wreck in 27 m makes a fascinating dive. The plane crashed in 1943, while the crew were on a training exercise. Today much of the wreckage is covered with coral, but divers can still see the cockpit area, the engines and the landing wheels. Considering the small size of the wreckage, this plane gets more than its fair share of marine life. Gropers, batfish, manta rays, stingrays, sea snakes and wobbegong sharks are just some of the species that have been observed around the wreck.
Besides whale watching, Manta Rays can also be seen in the area, sweeping along just under the surface feeding on plankton. (photo: Neville Coleman)
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, 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 around Budaberg and Hervey Bay.
( Copyright Neville Coleman/Nigel Marsh)