Sites accessible within easy reach of Adelaide’s beaches and boat ramps are usually between 5 and 25 meters deep. They are generally best dived when winds are offshore (easterly).
Metropolitan Dive Sites
The South Australian, or the Dredge, is an old suction dredge built in the Netherlands in 1914 and sailed out to Australia in 1920. She was used to dredge the Port River and Outer Harbour until sunk by the Department of Fisheries in 1985. She lays upright 5-6 kms west of Glenelg in 20 meters of water.
She is 35 meters long and 7 wide, with the bow to the south and the top deck at 15 meters. The wreck is safe to penetrate into the cabin rooms and main pump hold through the suction crane on the bow, but is unsafe through the boilers and engine room. The main hazards are rusting metal, strong currents and silting. The South Australian is home to cuttlefish, strongfish, old wives, bullseyes, leatherjackets and the occasional wobbegong shark or blue devil.
The Glenelg Barge is a hopper barge used by the South Australian (Glenelg Dredge) to take the silt dredged up from the Port River and dump it further out to sea. She was sunk in 1984 as an artificial reef and lies in 20 meters of water. The Dredge was sunk the following year and can be found by following the star dropper trail a distance of approximately 20 meters.
Divers can swim her 30 meter length with ease, as she is a little smaller than the Dredge. At either end there is a small opening where divers can penetrate into the work rooms. In these rooms on each side of the hoppers is the entrance to the flotation chambers and divers may peer into them. Divers can penetrate the wreck as long as they are properly prepared with lines, torches etc and know the layout. The entrance to each chamber is very restricted, so this penetration is not recommended. The main hazards are rusting metal, silting and restricted entrances to the penetrations.
Marine life includes bullseyes, old wives, leatherjackets, nudibranchs and sweep.
The Claris is all the more beautiful for the mysteries behind her origins. Two small vessels lie close to each other around 8km off Glenelg, in 28 meters of water. It is thought that the smaller, less intact vessel is the Claris – mostly a field of debris – while the other wreck appears to be a half cabin cruiser. This unknown vessel is around 25m to the west of the Claris, and just covered in the Carijoa (genus) soft corals that look like starry white christmas trees. The site abounds with bullseyes, old wives, leatherjackets and more fish than you can poke a dive stick at.
The Glenelg tyre reef is a series of tyre tetrahedrons in 18 meters of water, set down as an artificial reef in 1983. The reef lies 5 km off of Glenelg and 500 meters south-east of the Barge and Dredge. As a fish breeding ground it has been very successful with large quantities of whiting, bullseyes, strongies, silver dimmer, old wives and spider crabs. Cuttlefish and nudibranchs love to hide inside the tetrahedrons.
There are always plenty of anchors in this area for the keen fossikers. The main hazard is getting loose item and gauges caught in tyre straps. During the salmon run from early spring to summer, Great Whites have been known visit this site so best dive with protection or at other times of the year.
Macs ground is a small reef 4.5 km west of Glenelg in 17 meters of water. It is part of the old shore line and is a reef approximately one meter high, lying in an east west direction. The reef is about 150 m long and has numerous overhangs and a small cave, home to blue devils and cuttlefish. Other marine species include squid, silver drummers, strongies, bullseyes, old wives, leatherjackets and spider crabs. It is a favoured fishing ground for winter whiting. The fish life is usually prolific and tame which makes a great dive. There are no hazards.
The Blocks are a series of cement blocks visible at low tide and located 500 meters straight out from the Glenelg Jetty. The concrete blocks were used as a mooring system for early ships coming to Adelaide. It is an easy dive in 6 meters of water with plenty of area to cover. This is an excellent muck dive and wobbegong sharks can be found here. At night the site really comes alive with dumpling squid, octopods, squid, starfish and urchins coming out from hiding.
To many a diver, this site is the best local reef due to the abundance of fish and its relatively shallow depth. Seacliff reef is part of the old shore line from about 10,000 years ago. It is a reef approximately 1 meter high of the sand which travels in a north south direction. It is home to literally thousands of fish, including a number of large blue devils and often cuttlefish. A whole dive can easily be taken up by sitting on the bottom feeding the fish and not moving more than a few metres. The depth of the reef varies from 12 m to 15 m without any hazards.
Leatherjacket Alley is approximately 2 km north west of Glenelg and is around 10 meters deep. The dive site consists of a series of naturally formed gutters inhabited by a wide variety of fish and aquatic flora including sea tulips. The fish can be hand fed and on occasions great schools of sea pike visit the area, forming a seemingly impenetrable wall of fish which is quite spectacular.
Named after the finder who was a milkman, Milkies is a reef running north to south around 4.5 km west of Glenelg in 17 meters of water. Spider crabs abound and there are numerous blue devils, cuttlefish, strongies, silver drummer and cuttlefish. At times it is the best local dive around because very few divers visit and fish are plentiful. There are no hazards.
Another part of the old shore line of Adelaide, the Northern Outer runs in a north to south direction and sits in 18 meters of water. The reef is around one meter high with a few overhangs. Expect to see vast amounts of sea sponges as well as the usual marine creatures. It also seems to be a breeding ground for blue devils as there seems to be many young ones around. This section is about 100 m long.
Noarlunga tyre reef lies 2.5 km west of the Noarlunga jetty in 18 m. Access is by boat from O’Sullivan’s Beach boat ramp. An artificial reef set up to attract fish for breeding purposes. The tyres have started to spread out across the sea floor, but the dive is still very pleasant with a lot of fish. There are no hazards.
The dive can be easily done in conjunction with the Lumb and Seawolf as they are all right next to each other.
With over 200 species of marine plant and animals, over 73 types of fish, bryozoans, sponges, hydroids, ascidians and molluscs, this Marine Reserve is an excellent dive for novice divers.The reef is broken into the Northern and Southern sections that run parallel to the shore with depths of around 5 m on the inside , 8 m on the outside and around 10 m in the gap between the reef sections. The Northern section and the gap is accessible from the platform at the end of the Port Noarlunga jetty. The Southern section is accessible via a snorkel of around 100m from the beach opposite. Alternatively the reef can be accessed by boat from O’Sullivan’s Beach boat ramp. The Port Noarlunga Aquatic Trail with 12 markers starts next to seaward end of jetty and travels south along inside of reef through the gap and then north along the outside of the reef.
Caution should be taken as there is a strong current when high and low tide have a difference of more than one metre so check tides carefully.
The NORMA was a steel 4 masted iron barque of 2122 tons, measuring 278 feet, that sank in the main shipping channel of Outer Harbour in 1907 when it was rammed whilst at anchor by the Ardencraig. The day after the sinking the Jessie Darling ran over the wreck and sank on top of the Norma breaking her back. The Jessie Darling was subsequently refloated. Because of the danger to shipping, the Norma was dynamited.
The wreck lies about 5 km offshore from North Haven in 14 m of water and is subject to strong tidal currents. Access is by boat from North Haven boat ramp.
The wreck of the Norma is spread out over quite a large area and consists of a large area of twisted metal lying on the bottom. The bow area is still recognisable and acts as a marine haven for fish. The remains are very interesting, The fish life is prolific with wobbegongs frequently seen.
If diving the Norma be aware it is still in the shipping channel and it is unwise to leave your dive vessel without surface support as large ships still use the channel. A marker bouy is positioned about 25m due west of the wreck.
The John Robb was built in Port Adelaide in 1879 and sank during a storm around 1910. It is located in the outer shipping channel to Outer Harbour, The wreck is 15 km offshore from North Haven and lies in 18 m of water. Access is by boat from the North Haven boat ramp. The wreck is now nearly completely broken up with only the bow section recognisable sticking out of the sand pointing west. The wreck is extremely difficult to locate as land marks are almost impossible to find and a reliable GPS bearing is needed. Marine life around the wreck varies from prolific to almost barren depending on the day. Visibility is generally fairly good due to the distance offshore, but it is subject to tidal currents which can be strong..
Man made reef approx 4 km offshore from West Beach. Access is by boat from the West Beach boat ramp. Made up of a series of squares of old tyres laid down by the Fisheries Dept in the late 70’s. The tyres lie in 15 m of water and over the years the squares have split up and spread the tyres over a large area. The dive is interesting with a wide variety of life.
Stanvac Dump sits in about 15 metres of water, and is exactly how it sounds, it was a dumping ground for rubbish from the old Stanvac Oil Refinery.
Amongst the rubble you will find bits of metal, steel cable, steel pipes and an assortment of other metal objects. Visibility varies, but the site has become a haven for fish of all varieties and the obscure right angles everywhere makes for an interesting dive.
Be careful of snagging yourself on sharp metal objects.
The boat, originally named the Matsu Maru , was owned by a tuna fisherman from Port Lincoln who had obtained the boat from the Australian Government after it was confiscated while operating off Darwin. The owner planned to refurbish it for the lucrative tuna long line fishing industry, however, as tuna farming was gaining momentum at the time it became uneconomic to refurbish the boat to Australian standards to enter the declining long line industry.
The partially stripped hull lay unused from 1993, anchored off Lincoln Cove Marina and became something of a local eyesore and haven for multitudes of feral pigeons
After negotiations by Christopher Deane, and fundraising (quite modest, compared to more recent sinkings) by the Sea Wolves Dive Club, and the rest of the SA Dive Community, the hulk was towed to Port Adelaide from Port Lincoln on 20/21 October 2001 so that the extensive cleanup and preparation for scuttling could be done safely and efficiently. The man-made contaminants were nothing compared to all of the guano which had to be removed before it could be sunk!
With her new name emblazoned across her stern and bow, on Saturday March 23, 2002 she was scuttled and lies on her starboard side some 20 metres slightly to the south east of the hull of the HA Lumb, making the site a two wreck dive with a tyre reef thrown in for added interest! Its GPS location is 35 deg 08.879 min S, 138 deg 26.525min E using the WGS 84 datum. Look for the “bomb” on deck and other Sea Wolves markers below decks.
There are 3 barges at this site that were sunk in 1954, one is 163 x 29 and the two measure 71 x 49. At 28 m this is an advanced dive and bottom time is restricted.
To get the most out of this site, it is recommended to do a couple of dives here as the wrecks are quite spread out. There is not much in the way of penetration on the wrecks, but marine life is prolific, with the occasional pod of dolphins spooking people on the safety stops.
The barges form an artificial reef on an otherwise sandy bottom, and on calm days many a small hammerhead shark can be seen sun baking on the surface.