If done under the right conditions, few activities can compare to diving when it comes to illuminating the vast world of underwater life that lurks inside the oceans and seas of our planet. In fact, most of the people who try it are instantly hooked by the plethora of indescribable sights that can only be witnessed underwater. And there are few places better for diving than the environments found in and around Australia. Famed for its incredibly diverse ecosystem, the land Down Under has plenty of reputable diving spots, including the following top-rated locations:
- The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
By far the world’s most famous coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef offers an untold number of diving opportunities. High visibility and an incredible number of marine species such as sharks and various schools of fish are just some of the perks associated with this place. But the recent outbreaks of the Crown of Thorns Starfish have had a detrimental effect on the reef’s overall well being, putting the entire area in danger and causing scientists to look for active ways to stem the tide of COTS. Luckily, you too can lend a helping hand by downloading the Eye on the Reef app and sharing your photos depicting COTS with the scientific community.
Photo credit: Flickr
- Mt. Gambier, South Australia
If you enjoy both spelunking and diving, you’ll find plenty to like about Mt. Gambier. This cave diving mecca features some of the most beautiful and relatively unexplored underwater cave systems in the world, and offers opportunities for both diving and snorkeling. With notable formations like the so-called “Cathedral”, spending time here is boosted by the limestone-filtered water, which increases visibility to upwards of 40 meters. A large variety of animals and plants call Mt. Gambier home, including crayfish, mussels and wide swaths of bright green algae.
- The SS Yongala shipwreck, Queensland
Aside from witnessing nature’s marvels, diving also allows you to glimpse into the remains of human vessels that proved to be no match for the ocean’s changing tides. A fine example is the SS Yongala shipwreck located off the coast of Townsville. This imposing beauty sank during a cyclone in 1911, taking most of its passengers with it. But nowadays the SS Yongala is filled with a different kind of life, one teeming with brightly colored corals and several species of fish, including clown fish and potato cods. You’ll also see plenty of sharks, turtles and eels, and even humpback whales during the winter months when the water temperature cools off a bit.
Photo Credit: Flickr
- Rye Pier, Victoria
Located relatively close to the large Australian city of Melbourne, Rye Pier is perfect for both experienced divers and newbies alike, owing to the area’s relatively shallow waters that are nonetheless filled with sea creatures. Every year in autumn, for instance, thousands of spider crabs gather here, along with other exotic species such as the pot-bellied seahorse and a vast array of nudibranchs. You’ll also get to witness glorious octopuses and calamari squid that change in color upon interacting with a light source. Just be careful, as the waters round here are considerably colder, especially in wintertime when thick wetsuits are often required.
Photo Credit: Flickr
- Byron Bay, New South Wales
If this is your first diving experience and you’d prefer to steer clear of the incredibly popular spots in the Great Barrier Reef area, you’d do well to learn the ropes of diving in a place like Byron Bay. This top diving spot is nice and warm during the summer, and features must-see creatures such as leopard sharks, manta rays and a whole host of beautiful corals and sponges. What’s more, from May to September the unmistakable song of the humpback whale can be heard, as the massive creatures undergo their annual migration through these waters.
That concludes our list of the top diving places in Australia. Whichever one you end up choosing, remember that it’s essential to conduct your exploration in such a way that it doesn’t end up disturbing the fragile ecosystem in the area. Always treat nature with a healthy amount of respect and consideration, for the treasures it provides are truly second to none. And try to take a proactive approach to environmental protection whenever possible, by following sustainable dive practices and aiming for a green diving experience.