Tasmania's temperate seas are usually clear, and are full of
fascinating marine creatures.
There are amazing deep-water sponge gardens right around Tasmania that are much more colourful than any coral reef. Dive sites are suitable for scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater photography with kelp forests, caves, pinnacles, and shipwrecks to provide many memorable dives.
Add to this, encounters with dolphins, seals, whales and penguins, and you will begin to understand why many divers head south to Tasmania for their holidays.
The rich heritage we have on southern Australias little known, yet fantastic reefs, is illustrated in this image generously shared by Dave Warth who pioneered much of the deepwer waters around Bicheno.
( photo and Copyright: Dave Warth)
Located in the notorious 'Roaring Forties', Tasmania can experience foul winds and weather almost any time of the year. Add cold water and air temperatures, and it may not sound like a very appealing dive destination. But if you bypass Tasmania, you will miss some of Australias greatest dive experiences. Tasmanias temperate seas are usually clear, and are full of fascinating marine creatures. Numerous species of fish and invertebrates are seen on almost every dive, and the chance of finding new species is always a possibility. Deep-water sponge gardens are plentiful, and much more colourful than any coral reef. Kelp forests, caves, pinnacles, and shipwrecks provide many memorable dives. Add to this, encounters with dolphins, seals, whales and penguins, and you will begin to understand why many divers head south to Tasmania for their holidays.
Although the State is located in the roaring forties, the average day is no more windy than in most of the southern States. Temperatures vary Ð the average summer day ranges from 12-22¼C, and in winter temperatures range from 6-14¼C. Winter is the best time for diving, as the weather is quite stable (although cool), the seas are calm, and the visibility can reach 45 m.
Tasmania was first sighted by Europeans in 1642, when Dutch explorer Abel Tasman landed at Marion Bay, and named the new land mass Van Diemans Land after the Governor General of the Indies. Tasmania was thought to be connected to the mainland until 1798, when Bass and Flinders circumnavigated the island and charted much of the coastline. John Bowen, with a company of 49 convicts and soldiers, established the first settlement at Ridson Cove, in 1803. However, conflict with the local aborigines led them to relocate to Sullivans Cove, the present site of Hobart. Thousands of convicts were sent to Tasmania from 1803 to 1877, and many died in the notorious jails at Port Arthur, Macquarie Harbour, Maria Island and Sarah Island.
Tasmania makes up one per cent of the Australian land mass, and is only 296 km from top to bottom. The State has a population close to half a million, with 40 per cent of its inhabitants living in Hobart. It is the most wooded and rugged State in Australia, with many areas in the southwest still unexplored. Much of the interior is high country, with rocky mountains and large snow fields. Snow is guaranteed over winter, and unexpected falls can occur even in summer. Many unique plants and animals survive on the island due to its isolation, including the Huon pine (one of the best timbers known to man), the leatherwood tree (from which bees make the high-quality leatherwood honey) and the famous Tasmanian devils.
Diving in Tasmania is limited, mainly by the number of dive shops, access points and conditions. Very little diving is done on the wild west coast, except by the occasional abalone dive. One area on the south-west coast that deserves more exploration is around Port Davey. Here the dark tannin-stained surface water gives way to clear water underneath, and because of the limited light, many deep-water fish and invertebrates are found in shallow water. The wonderful variety of sites around Maria Island and Freycinet Peninsula also deserve a mention.
The areas serviced by dive shops and charter boats provide outstanding diving experiences. Bicheno has become Tasmanias most famous dive destination (the Cousteau team were so impressed they made a special about the area) and excellent diving can also be found on the Tasman Peninsula, off St Helens, Hobart, Wynyard and on the islands of Bass Strait.
Water temperature around Tasmania is no worse than Victoria, varying from 10-16¼C, although cooler and warmer water can be experienced due to currents and thermoclines. Most divers use 7mm wetsuits, or drysuits, for maximum comfort.
Tourism contributes much to Tasmanias economy. The natural beauty of Tasmania is hard to beat, rugged bushland, clean empty beaches, snow-capped ranges, clear lakes and streams, towering sea cliffs and wonderful panoramas. Visitors can explore remote wilderness national parks, raft the Gordon and Franklin Rivers, ski the highlands, tour the historic ruins at Port Arthur, visit museums and art galleries, fish for trout, observe native wildlife in the bush or in one of the many wildlife parks, take a scenic flight or buy local arts and crafts.
Accommodation ranges from hotels and motels, to bed and breakfast places. A number of dive shops have bunk-houses and package deals including accommodation and diving. Tasmania is reached quickest from the mainland by airplane, while bus, train and hire car/caravan services are available for travel throughout the State. Tasmania is best explored by car, a vehicular ferry runs from Melbourne to Devonport if you would like to bring your vehicle from the mainland. A ferry service also runs from Port Welshpool in Victoria to George Town.
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 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 and Marine Mammals, all found in the waters.
( Copyright Neville Coleman/Nigel Marsh)