Divers will find a large selection of reefs to explore off Townsville.
The inner reefs and islands have extensive coral gardens and interesting drop-offs, while the outer reefs feature walls and pinnacles with a rich variety of coral and other marine life suitable for scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater photography.
The most exciting dive site in the Townsville area is the wreck of the SS Yongala, which sank during a cyclone in 1911.
Giant Gropers (Epinephelus lanceolatus) like this one have made the 'Yogala' wreck their home. Several of them inhabit the deeper parts of the wreck and they are in excess of 2.5 metres. Very BIG fish! (photo: Neville Coleman)
One Amazing Ship Wreck and Amazing Coral Reefs
Divers will find a large selection of reefs to explore off Townsville. The inner reefs have extensive coral gardens and interesting drop-offs, while the outer reefs feature walls and pinnacles with a rich variety of coral and other marine life. The most exciting dive site in the Townsville area is the wreck of the SS Yongala, which sank during a cyclone in 1911.
Townsville is the largest city in Northern Queensland and caters well for the tourist market. Local attractions are many, and include a casino and the Great Barrier Reef Wonderland Aquarium complex. A number of dive shops and charter boats are based in Townsville, including one of Australia's most well-known dive operations, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions.
Day trips and extended live-aboard trips are available, but book early as there are a limited number of spaces. Those after an island getaway can stay at Magnetic Island or Orpheus Island, both of which have resorts, dive operations and a number of inshore dive sites that are rich in marine life, but good visibility depends on the weather.
During the dry season the water around islands like Orpheus Island ( a continental island just out from Townsville) can be surprising clear and are excellent for scuba diving and snorkeling. (photo: Neville Coleman)
Located on the outer reef edge, Myrmidon lies in clear water and has great coral growths, coral walls, canyons and caves. Reef fish are numerous, as are turtles, coral trout, trevally, reef sharks, stingrays, gropers and giant clams.
Australian Marine Institute of Marine Science vessel to the rear of an intertidal reef complex at Myrmidon Reef. Diving scientists were carrying out research on Giant Clams and Sea Stars. (photo: Neville Coleman)
AIMS scientist measuring and taking DNA samples of the Giant Clam populations in the shallows on Myrmidon Reef. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
In the deeper waters, the reefaces were covered in brightly coloured sessile animals. This Cocks Comb Oyster Lopha cristagalli is covered in a commensal orange sponge and several species of ascidians. (photo: Neville Coleman)
AIMS scientist searching for echinoderms during an expedition to Myrmidon Reef. The floor of the lagoon here was only 10 metres so it allowed plenty of time for a good look around. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Pure Pleasure Cruises has a pontoon moored at Kelso Reef. The company's charter vessel Pure Pleasure transports divers to a number of sites at Kelso, to dive coral gardens and a number of drop-offs. Under the pontoon is a great place to see snapper, Maori wrasse, gropers, emperor and sweetlips.
The dominant stony corals on the reeftop at Kelso Reef are staghorns and table corals (Acropora spp.) The entire area can be snorkeled with ease as it is only a few metres deep. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Snorkelers watching and taking photographs of a big school of Spangled Emperors that visit the pontoon when the catamarans pull in. They have a history of being fed a few handfulls of fish food pellets and have long memories and large appertites for free food. (Photo: Neville Coleman)
Underwater this school of Spangled Emperors ( Lethrinus nebulosus) take on a different presense. Due to being fed at regular intervals over the years these fish turn up as soon as the catamaran arrives. Although their teeth are small, they are sharp, and snorkelers must remember not to get too close if the fish are being fed. (photo: Neville Coleman)
John Brewer Reef
Once the site of the world's first floating hotel, long since floated off to Vietnam, John Brewer Reef has a large lagoon and very good drop-offs to 35 m. These have an excellent coverage of corals and are frequented by reef sharks, turtles, gropers and schools of pelagic fish.
An assemblage of pinnacles is found on the southern side of Coil Reef. In depths from 15-30 m divers will usually see turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, barracuda, trevally, mackerel and whitetip reef sharks.
At many of the dive sites that are dived on a regular basis, the fish(even the big Malabar Rock Cods) have become used to divers, and photographers are able to get really close.
(photo: Neville Coleman)
The inner edge of Bowl Reef has many coral heads that provide interesting diving. These structures support an assortment of gorgonians, sea whips, hard and soft corals, nudibranchs, moray eels, flatworms, sea stars, crustaceans and echinoderms. A large variety of reef fish and the occasional sea snake are resident on and around the heads. Pelagic fish can be quite plentiful.
Around the 'Yongala' wreck, the bottom has been dug up by Giant Stingrays searching for food. There are hundreds of feeding depressions, giving the sandy mud bottom to look as though it has been used for bombing practice. Some of the biggest rays, (Taeniura meyeni) grow to over 400 cm. (photo: Neville Coleman)
On the northern side of Yankee reef are a number of pinnacles at 25 m, where large reef and pelagic fish can always be found. The reef itself has dense gardens of hard coral, and is home to many species of small, colourful reef fish and invertebrates.
Giant clams are numerous on Chicken Reef. In the shallows lie dozens of these huge molluscs, some well over 1 m wide. Along many good drop-offs and in coral gardens, in less than 30 m, you will find reef sharks, groper and many invertebrate species as well as the occasional sea snake.
Giant clams Tridacna gigas are found at many dive sites along the Great Barrier Reef. The really big ones may be over 100 years old and exceed a metre in length. (photo: Neville Coleman)
Pinnacles rising from 30 m provide great diving at Broadhurst Reef. These large bommies are packed with hard corals, sea whips, gorgonians and soft corals. The pinnacles teem with fish life. Divers will usually see barracuda, coral trout, trevally, sweetlips, lionfish, tuna and pufferfish.
There is an exciting drop-off on the eastern side of Shrimp Reef, with plenty of corals and pelagic fish. Extensive areas of hard coral and associated reef fish and invertebrate life cover the rest of the reef.
Neville Coleman's 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 around Townsville.