View Full Version : First trip to Australia: where to dive?
August 30th, 2011, 07:40 PM
I'll be in Melbourne in September for business and would like to take a few days holiday to go diving. Where is the best place to dive? I expect to fly from Melbourne to the area with the diving for these few days.
I'm from Boston and this is my first trip to the area. I'm an advanced diver and enjoy seeing animals and coral (rather than seek to dive as deep as possible). I'll be alone and would like to join a few boat trips. Do you guys have any recommendations? I have no idea where to go. I hear Queensland from some people. But others recommend West Australia. I prefer day trips on a boat rather than liveaboards. Not into shoredives.
Any advice would be really appreciated!
August 30th, 2011, 09:25 PM
Hi Trish...how many days will you have to go diving? I think that would really determine what would be practical to get to. I know you say you're not looking for a liveaboard, but with the time you have I'd really suggest a 3-4 day liveaboard out of Cairns (checkout Mike Ball, Taka, Spirit of Freedom) as your best bet with the limited time that you have (plus you can get in/out of Cairns easily from Melbourne). WA would be out..too far for the time you have, although Ningaloo is incredible. If I had to choose one dive to do in Australia it would be the Yongala south of Townsville which is the best dive I've done anywhere in the world...but that's also somewhat hard to get to given the time that you have and wouldn't give the variety of a liveaboard out of Cairns. Another good place is Julian Rocks at Byron Bay (also a great place to spend a couple of days) but I don't think conditions are best this time of year. You may want to consider something more local to Melbourne... I'm not knowledgeable on Melbourne diving specifically, but there is good diving around Sydney and up the New South Wales Coast to Port Stephens and Coffs Harbor, and also I supposed you could fly to Adelaide and dive the Flerieu Peninsula which I also enjoyed. In New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia will be pretty cold (60's) this time of year if that matters to you. Diving is awesome in Australia but be forewarned its ridiculously expensive, even before the exchange rate went one to one.
August 30th, 2011, 10:15 PM
If you are going to be in Melbourne, I suggest that you look at the opportunities existing in Melbourne. This would allow you to use time otherwise spent travelling going diving. Just google 'scuba diving, melbourne' or search on Yellow PagesŪ | Your Local Australian Business Directory (http://www.yellowpages.com.au/) using 'diving' or 'scuba diving schools'. As a former resident of Melbourne & occasional visitor, I would suggest the following businesses - Dive Victoria and Diver Instruction Services as starting points. There are a number of Victorian divers who frequent scubaboard - some of these guys may be able to offer more suggestions.
As a South Australian, I must point out that diving in SA principally influenced by the weather. Therefore, I would suggest thinking twice about visiting in September due to the reliability of the weather. The first month of our spring season can be wet and windy. The most of the dive charters are in the Adelaide metropolitan area with the possible of the Ex-HMAS Hobart artificial reef (BTW, this site is very tidal). You may find yourself doing shore dives on a lee coast if charters are cancelled due to weather.
August 30th, 2011, 11:39 PM
Thank you for the quick replies!
I can take more time for vacation so it's not limited to only a few days. Would like to spend some vacation time doing non-diving stuff in Australia too :)
I'll be in Greece for 1 week then Melbourne for 1 week in mid September; both are business trips so the timing is not flexible. Then I am planning to stay to take vacation at the end of Sept..... and can't wait.
I dive ALL the time so the idea is to make the most of being in this part of the world for the first time. Not sure when I'll ever be back so I don't mind being inconvenienced by flying from Melbourne to where the great diving is.
Any further advice?
August 31st, 2011, 12:46 AM
We spent three days in 2005, diving in Byron Bay. HERE (http://www.tsandm.com/Diving%20Byron%20Bay.htm) is the account of that trip. We stayed in a lovely B&B that caters to divers, called Planula Lodge (http://www.byronbaydivecentre.com.au/accomodation/), and we dove with Sundive Diving. Byron Bay is a lovely little, slightly self-consciously cute town on a beautiful horseshoe bay lined with white sand. There are excellent restaurants, and the diving is absolutely superb. It's all short boat rides, and if you have just a few days, I think you'd love it. Search for some threads by AussieByron -- he has posted some wonderful photographs of diving there.
September 1st, 2011, 12:24 AM
Hi again Trish...Australia is such a huge country with so much to offer...I spent over 2 months travelling around Aus one trip and still didnt come close to seeing everything I wanted to. With wanting to include diving as part of your trip, and not having been to this part of the world before, still absolutely include a 3-4 day liveaboard out of Cairns for your first diving option. If I'm guessing you're giving yourself a week after youre in Melbourne, spend at least a couple of days in Sydney then go up to Cairns..if you have a couple of extra days outside of this there is also plenty of other things to do in Cairns before/after a liveaboard. You'd said you didn't want to do one, but that truly is the best option to see the GBR. You could do day trip out of Cairns but it's the not the same...the better parts are further out (Cod Hole, Ribbon Reefs, etc). You'll be kind of out of season for diving NSW south with cold water and operators probably only going out on weekends, if that. Up in Queensland water and weather will be warm and you'll have lots of dive operators running non-stop--also meaning you can fit it into a presumably tight schedule. Even with you stating you're willing to fly anywhere you need to a lot of other options have additional travel beyond a flight that just makes things less practical for a short trip. Now if you can spare two-three weeks I'd say something a little different (ask me if that's the case if you like), but I still would recommend the diving portion to be GBR out of Cairns as a first time introduction to diving in Australia. The last person recommended Byron Bay...which I also love and has great diving at Julian Rocks..but I was there September last year and for diving that's not the best for conditions
September 6th, 2011, 10:34 PM
TS&M's suggestion is a good one. being that you're going to melbourne I'd suggest staying on the East coast of Australia as Perth is a 4 hour flight, then to get up to Ningaloo Reef would take too long :(
Byron is a sore point for me as i used to spend every Christmas there up to about 15 years ago. the town has changed... a lot. but it's still beautiful :) the diving in and around the Julian Rocks is great by all accounts.
the other options (obviously) is the Barrier Reef. Day trips from Cairns and Port Douglas are probably equal in terms of experience and price. PD offers a beach that Cairns does not (mangroves), while Cairns offers more restaurants and nightlife, all depends what you want... partying with backpackers or a quiet beach/family resort town.
Also check the stinger season information, September may be close to stinger season, so while the beach is pretty, it's also potentially lethal.