Australian scuba diving and snorkelling

Posted by Ash K on Sunday, February 26, 2012 2

Australia is one of the great scuba diving destinations. Every stretch of coast has its own unique dive
sites. They vary dramatically from the warm, tropical waters of the north to the chillier Southern
Ocean dive sites along the opposite coast. No matter where you go on the Australian coast, there
will almost certainly be a new underwater world to explore, but the country also has a handful of
truly world class diving and snorkelling meccas.

By far the most famous is Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. Most visitors arrive at Cairns or another
coastal city, the reef is truly staggering in size. It runs for about 1600 miles down Australia's north
east coast. In fact, it's so big that it's clearly visible from space, and is widely regarded as the biggest
permanent structure made by living organisms.

Literally millions of visitors come to the Great Barrier Reef every year. They come to take boat tours,
to snorkel amongst a huge variety of tropical fish, to scuba dive, and even to hire tiny one-person
submersible crafts. The crowds are carefully managed to prevent the reef from being damaged but
there is no denying that you'll see a lot of people as well as a lot of fish!

On the north west coast, there is a less popular but maybe even more spectacular reef. Ningaloo
World Heritage area encompasses some of the most beautiful and most pristine reef on the globe.
About 450 different species of fish have been counted there, ranging from tiny, brightly coloured
tropical gems to the massive whale shark- a gentle creature that can be anything up to 40ft long.

Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, which sits just off more than one major Australian town, Ningaloo
is several hours from the nearest urban centre. It's a lot harder to get to than most other dive
resorts but many people argue that the combination of peace and quiet and a beautifully unspoiled
environment make the journey more than worthwhile.

There is also great diving to be had in the cooler southern waters. Drive south from Sydney and
you'll find a long chain of great dive sites, from the incredibly clear waters of Jervis Bay to the rocky
headlands and sandy beaches around Ulladulla, Batemen's Bay, and Moruya. The brightly coloured
tropical fish are less common, although a few do drift down from warmer waters in summer and
early autumn. There are, however, other attractions- cuttlefish and octopi, sharks, seals, and
stingrays for example.

Jess Spate is a keen diver who started out snorkelling along Australia's south east coast. She writes
for an underwater housing and camera company.

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