New South Wales
The diving here is somewhat overshadowed by Queensland to the north. However, there are several dive destinations along the coast that are more than worth a visit. As you travel south in New South Wales you move into more temperate waters and will need to be prepared for cooler water temperatures. Water at and below Sydney's latitude ranges between 22C (71F) in summer to 13C (55F) in winter. Divers will typically wear at least 5mm wetsuits in summer and and add hoods and vests in winter or will use semi-dry or drysuits.
Amazingly, there's diving in Sydney harbour, despite its heavy commercial use. There are several sites within the harbour, mainly inside the north and south heads. Most operators leave from Manly or Balmoral. There's good shore diving from Bare Island off La Perouse and at the tidal Shiprock site at Port Hacking. Visibility near Sydney is usually 5-15 metres. Soft coral lives even inside the harbour and Port Jackson sharks are relatively common.
The excellent diving in Byron Bay is starting to become a contender to the best Queensland can offer. The waters have a mix of tropical and temperate species. In addition the water temperature goes as high as 27C/81F and the visibility is on average around 15m. The sites are well managed and over-diving isn't taking place. Dolphin sightings are common on boat trips and whale sightings regular between May and October.
The Solitary Islands Marine Park off Coffs Harbour has both tropical and subtropical marine life. Notables are grey nurse sharks, hard and soft coral, anemone fish, and colourful wrasse. Seeing large rays is unusual but not unheard of. Visibility is between 10 and 20 metres, and most of the interesting diving is shallower than 20 metres. Water temperature may be up to 25C in summer.
New South Wales (NSW) is Australia's most populated state, located in the south-east of the country, north of Victoria and south of Queensland. Click for the map.
- Manly Beach (off Sydney) for the chance to dive with Southern Right whales.
- The Magic Point site off Maroubra is a grey nurse shark sanctuary: during the day you can see a number of sharks sleeping in their cave.
- Gordon's Bay has an underwater nature trail, depth 10-15 meters, marked a chain, access from Clovelly parking lot, where you can find a map with explanations.
- Sydney is primarily a local dive scene. Many smaller operators only have rubber dinghies and some do not provide much in the way of dive site briefings. Check before hand as not all operators hire out masks, snorkels or fins. Ask the operator about the level of experience they cater for when booking.
- There are a number of wrecks off-shore that are regularly dived, but most are in 45 meters (150 feet) or more of water and require technical training for that depth.
- In Australia, you must have a Recreational scuba diving medical to Australian Standard 4005.1 2000 (AS4005.1 2000). The South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society lists doctors who have completed a Diving Medical Course and will be able to perform these Medicals. Medicals incur a fee which you pay directly to the doctor.
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