Photo by Murray Kessell 1999
Perth is diveable almost all year round. The Leeuwin Current brings warm
water and marine life from the tropics down as far south as Perth. The
best diving conditions are in November and in April-May. July and August
are often stormy but you can get some beautifully calm and clear days.
Sea temperatures are typically 18-22 C. Most people wear a 5mm wetsuit
all year round, and a hood in winter. Be prepared for surge (moderate),
swell (moderate) or current (slight). Diving is insanely busy at the start
of the crayfish season (15 November).
Summer weather in Perth is dominated by an endless series of highs rolling
in from the Indian Ocean. The typical daily summer weather is a cloudless,
hot still morning, then a marked sea breeze (the Fremantle Doctor) coming
in sometime between 12 and 4. Here's a typical
wind chart from the SeaBreeze site. A healthy 1 metre swell can often
whip up from nowhere in the afternoon. Summer nights can be quite cool,
because of the lack of cloud cover. February is insufferably hot for many
people, but the night dives are fantastic.
Local contacts and dive shops
UWA Underwater Club
BSAC WA Dive Club, 7 Kirkcolm Way, Warwick 6024 (08) 9447-2052
List of all
dive shops in WA from 3 Routes
Perth Diving Academy (PADI
5 star) are in Fremantle (08 9430 6300) and Balcatta (08 9344 1562). They
have a very large and well-appointed dive boat Lionfish IV running
trips from Fremantle to Rottnest Island every weekend (early morning single
dives 6:30-9:00 and two-dive day trips 9:30-4:30 with lunch) and other
trips in season. The boat is well organised and highly recommended for
visiting divers. The main drawback is that in summer you could be one of
40 divers on the same spot.
Australasian Diving Academy (PADI
Nedlands, 142 Stirling Hwy, 6009, (08) 9389-5018
Applecross, 787 Canning Hwy 6153, (08) 9364-7878
Rottnest Malibu Diving
is at Thompson Bay, Rottnest Island (directly
opposite the main jetty where the ferries come in).
This is the only dive shop around
Perth which runs a dive every day of the week with great reliability. They
will send the boat across to Fremantle to pick up divers, on request.
Perth Scuba have just opened!
Diving Ventures are in
Fremantle, Perth and Exmouth.
Dolphin Scuba Diving (PADI
CDC) are at
3/129 Welshpool Road, Welshpool, Perth, WA 6106, phone: (08) 9353 2488,
fax: (08) 9353 3253.
1 Cantonment St, Fremantle WA, phone (08) 9336 6286, fax (08) 9335 3271.
[This is the old Barrakuda Dive shop.]
Bell Scuba (PADI/TDI/SDI)
is in Rockingham, about 25 minutes' drive south of Fremantle. They are
directly opposite an excellent shore dive at Bell Park.
Here is more
information. Address is 43 Rockingham Beach Rd, Rockingham WA 6168. Tel:
(08) 9527 9211. Fax: (08) 9527 5892. Run by the
incomparable Neil Hackett. Excellent equipment service. Nitrox and
- Scubanautics Diving Academy
are also in Rockingham.
They are one of the best underwater photography dealers in Australia.
Equipment service, Nitrox fills.
Address is Shop 8, 31 Dixon Rd, Rockingham WA 6168.
Tel/Fax: (08) 9527 4447.
Sorrento Quay Dive Shop(PADI
5 star/TDI) are at Hillarys Boat Harbour, about 25 minutes' drive north
of Perth. Southside Drive, Hillarys WA 6025, (08) 9448-6343. They are a
good and well organised shop. They run regular trips to Rottnest Island
and the Marmion Marine Park including a very good variety of sites. They
do Nitrox fills but do not rent out Nitrox tanks or equipment.
Mindarie Diving Academy are at Mindarie
Keys Marina, Mindarie, about 40 minutes' drive north of the city. Shop
8, Ocean Falls Blvd, Mindarie WA 6030. (08) 9305 7113. They are the best
place for cheap deals on scuba gear. They run good budget
boat dives in the northern coastal area. They have some interesting sites
including some interesting wrecks like the Conference, Twofold
Bay and Gemini. Their sites are planned well in advance, and
listed on their website and circulars, so you know what you're getting.
- Image Dive and Charters
is a charter boat operation run by experienced technical diving
instructor Luke Nelson.
Dive Ski and Surf are at
513 Hay St, Subiaco, (08) 9381-2744
E Shed, Victoria Quay, Fremantle, (08) 9336-4355
Surf Dive 'n' Ski, 637 Hay St, Perth (08) 9202-1708
Nautilus Diving, Fremantle 08 9335 5520
Bluewater Tackle -Surf, Dive, Marine - 21 Scarborough Beach Rd Scarborough
6019 (08) 9245-1313 and 140 Russell St Morley 6062 (08) 9375-9800
- List of all Dive Shops
in Western Australia
Sirocco Wetsuits, 5 Nairn St, Fremantle, phone (08) 9430 7143 make
some good wetsuits including titanium-lined 2mm and 5mm and wetsuit socks,
etc. All made on site to your requirements. Great bunch of people.
Ministry of Sport and Recreation
report on scuba diving in Western Australia
Diving Medical Service, 135 Dunedin St, Mt Hawthorn WA 6016, phone
(08) 9444-8977, Fax (08) 9444-8268, After Hours (08) 9385-2232
Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Unit, Fremantle Hospital, phone (08)
9431 2233, is the only (civilian) recompression facility in Western Australia.
They have two chambers (both very comfortable).
Other local divers
The Key Biscayne
How it was lost
The oil rig Key Biscayne sank off the WA coast on 1 September 1983.
The rig was being towed from
the North West Shelf down to Fremantle for repairs.
Buffeted by a 50-knot (100 km/h) Westerly gale and 7 metre waves,
the rig was pitching heavily, eventually breaking its tether lines with the
towing vessels, and taking on water. Crew were progressively evacuated
as attempts to regain control were frustrated by the weather and the
flooding. Eventually the rig was abandoned and broke free of all
its anchors, rolling and sinking at approximate position
31° 10' S, 115° 11.7' E. Recent dive boats have given the
GPS location as 31° 09.89 S , 115° 11.81 E. This is
about 15 km off the coast, about 20 km SW of
the town of Lancelin and some 120 km north of Perth.
For a detailed account of the loss of the Key Biscayne,
The rig lies upside down (like an upturned triangular table)
on sand at 42 m. The shallowest parts of the wreck are at 26 m.
The underside of the lowest part of the main platform
lies at about 35 m, facing the surface,
with an interesting dome at the centre.
Under the main platform lie the
superstructure (living quarters and drilling machinery). The legs broke off
during the sinking and lie to one side. There were salvage attempts later
but most of it is still there.
mudmap originally drawn by Gary Brennand
(redrawn by me).
On a good day it's a spectacular dive: you feel like you are
orbiting a space station. The wreck has a gaudy covering of
tropical/temperate sessile animals, there's a wide variety of
resident fish, and there are stacks of crayfish.
A two-metre wobbegong shark and a large smooth stingray can sometimes
This is a very exposed and windy site, and is usually only diveable
in the calm summer months of November and March. Divers should be
trained and experienced in deep diving, should have been in a current before,
and should carry a signal tube for emergencies.
Dive operators which visit the Key B include
Perth Diving Academy
Image Dive, run by Luke Nelson, is highly recommended. He is the
only operator who will allow decompression diving or technical diving
on this site for divers with appropriate qualifications.
Most boats leave from Two Rocks (100 km north of Perth,
2 hour boat drive) although small boats can moor at Lancelin (140 km
north of Perth, 1 hour boat drive from wreck)
Anchoring is not feasible on this site.
There is currently (november 2006) a mooring line tied
up to the shallowest part of the wreck, at 24 metres depth,
in the north-east corner. This makes it straightforward to get to and from
the wreck, and to navigate a tour of the wreck in good conditions.
However, plan for the possibility of poor visibility,
strong current and loss of contact with the wreck.
Previous mooring lines
have "gone missing". When there is no mooring line attached,
some lucky divemaster has to dive down with a rope and fasten it
to the wreck. So you're not always moored to the same place on the wreck.
For a decompression dive, always take a surface marker and reel.
Even on a good day, the mooring line will yank up and down in the water,
so be prepared either for mid-water decompression or
for hanging on hard with one hand.
My logged dives on the Key B:
Logs 333 onward include pictures.
The decommissioned Australian Navy destroyer escort
HMAS Swan was sunk in
Geographe Bay near Dunsborough (300 km south of Perth) in late 1997 as
an artificial reef.
Here are images
of the sinking. See Cape
Dive website and Michael
McFadyen's home page.
The wreck now has a full complement of interesting fauna, including heaps of
fish, and very different selection of sessile organisms
on the two sides of the hull.
This is a boat dive requiring a permit.
Most divers use one of the local dive shops in Dunsborough (which is closest)
I recommend Cape
My logged dives on the Swan:
Logs 358 onward include pictures.
Nearby Dive shops
Dive and Adventures, 26 Dunn Bay Rd, Dunsborough WA 6281, (08) 9756-8846
Cape Dive, 222 Naturaliste
Tce, Dunsborough WA 6281, (08) 9756-8778; Mobile 0411-848-767, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dive Shed Busselton, 21A Queen St, Busselton WA 6280, (08) 9754-1615
Naturaliste Dive Centre, 103 Queen St, Busselton WA 6280, (08) 9752-2096
Ocean Probe Dive Centre, 1/ 61 Albert Rd, Bunbury WA 6230, (08) 9791-1996,
Nearby dive sites
The decommissioned Navy guided missile destroyer HMAS Perth
was sunk in King George Sound close to Albany (450 km south west of Perth)
in november 2001.
She is larger than the Swan and has retained more
of her original fittings, including gun turrets, control panels and furniture.
She is resting upright (after a few very tense moments at the sinking)
in about 35 m of water, with the top of the radar mast sticking out of the
This is a boat dive, easily reached from the town jetty
in a private boat, or with a dive shop.
See the HMAS Perth website,
My logged dives on the Perth:
679 (with pictures),
680 (with pictures).
Other dive sites nearby:
- wreck of the 120 metre whaler Cheynes III,
the first prepared dive wreck in Australia, sunk 1982. Pretty dilapidated
- local reefs are reputed to be very worthwhile.
- Ask Garry Wellstead at
Southcoast Diving Supplies for the video of Albany diving.
Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef (NW coast of Western Australia)
The Ningaloo Reef is a large coral reef system which (unlike the Great
Barrier Reef) comes very close to the
coast of mainland Australia. Around Northwest Cape, the continental
shelf is only a few km from the coast.
The town of Exmouth is the usual destination for scuba divers to dive
on the reef.
From Exmouth you can also go on whale shark spotting trips and snorkel
with these graceful giants.
Exmouth was recently flattened by a tropical cyclone. The web pages
are still there...
The Ningaloo Reef is threatened by the proposed "development" of a
marina and residential/tourist area
on the Coral Coast.
Save Ningaloo Reef!!!
Diving in Australia
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Papua New Guinea
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Rest of the world
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Last update: July 2002