Shiprock is a wall dive and due to its position inside Port Hacking, it can only be dove at high or low tide. As usual, high tide is a better time to dive, as visibility tends to be better. Shiprock is not known for good visibility. 5m is considered reasonable, but it can range up to 15m. There’s so much to see on this dive that it usually doesn’t matter if viz is poor - over 130 species of fish have been recorded here.
From the entry, simply sink down into about 3m of water and head out in an easterly direction. Swim out over sand for about 6-7 metres and then you will see the wall, drop over the wall into about 15m of water. Most divers will head to the south of the wall first. If you head out to the larger bommies off the main wall and get disorientated you simply head west and you will hit the main wall again. A good navigation marker and unique of the dive is the ‘Bubble Cave’ - a small cave inside an overhang. There’s room for two divers to stick their heads out of the water and have a chat. It’s not a good idea to breath too much of the air in there – inhale off your reg and talk/exhale into the cave. The bubble cave is marked by a flat rock running out from the main wall and an overhang. Its not too far from the start of the dive.
Two other intersting dives for the site. The first is to stay on top of the wall and head south along the drop off. Although you will only get about 8m depth there is lots to see including some of the biggest morays in Sydney.
The second option is to goover the wall and head north, although there is not as many fish to be seen this is where you normally see the rare creatures such as angler fish and Harlequin Ghost Pipefish.
Shiprock is located in Shiprock Road, Dolans Bay in the Sutherland Shire. Depending on when you are diving this road becomes very crowded and finding a parking spot close to the goat track is hard. During high tides on the weekend in summer its advised to get there early to get a good parking spot. There is a small goat track, which leads down to the water. It is a dirt track, and a bit steep, after rain it can be slippery so be careful when walking down. The start of the track is marked with a sign.
Entry and exit
Shiprock has one of the easiest entry and exits – negotiating the goat track is the hardest part! Due to Ship rock’s positioning inside the bay, it's never too rough; only the tides determine its accessibility. At the bottom of the goat track you simply walk into the water. There is a large rock right in front of you, which can be held onto for support to put on your fins. Getting out is just as easy, slowly swim up over the wall, do your safety stop on the sandy area in 5m, then keep swimming west till you can stand up.
As an aquatic reserve, Shiprock teams with life. This is one of Sydneys "special" dive sites.
There are heaps to see on this dive. Apart from the fish life and the bubble cave, there’s also a plaque on one of the large bommies off the main wall. As mentioned below over 130 species of fish have been recorded here. Both temperate and some tropical species.