Located just 2.5 kilometres from Byron Bay’s Main Beach, is one of Australia’s best dive sites, the famous Julian Rocks. Situated in the Cape Byron Marine Park, the Julian Rocks is home to over 1000 recorded species of marine life. The mixing of tropical warm water (The Eastern Australia Current) with cooler temperate water makes the diving in Byron Bay unique. Some of the common visitors to the area include migrating Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Manta Rays, Leopard Sharks, the threatened Grey Nurse Shark and three species of Turtle. With very high biodiversity and fish density, the Julian Rocks has earned a reputation as being one of the most prolific fish dives around. If you prefer the small though, you won’t be disappointed either with many nudibranch species, small invertebrates, crustaceans and even ghost pipefish. The Julian Rocks has been a 100% no take protected area for 30 years and the benefits to the fishlife are very clear. Keep in mind that Byron Bay is the most Easterly point in Australia and therefore an aggregation site for many pelagic species travelling with the ocean currents.
All this action is just 10 minutes from Byron Bay’s main beach making it a short but exciting boat trip. The dive boats are Rigid Hull Inflatables that are best suited for the beach launch at The Pass, the southern end Main Beach. The pass is the most protected launching area, it faces north and is protected by headlands of Cape Bryon. The Cape, home to the famous Cape Byron Light House, protects the Pass and the and the Julian Rocks from southerly wind and swell.
The history of the Julian Rocks is also very interesting. Captain James Cook discovered Cape Byron in 1770. He named it in honour of Admiral John Byron, another British navigator. Contrary to popular belief, Cook noted Julian Rocks but did not name them. In fact on a chart from 1828 they were still unnamed yet by 1883 they had been charted as Juan and Julia Islands. Juan and Julia were Cook’s niece and nephew. On the other hand, according to a story from the traditional owners (the Bundjalung people) a jealous husband threw his spear at the canoe of his wife and her lover. The canoe broke in two and sank to the bottom of the ocean. With only the back and the front of the boat sticking out of the water, the Julian Rocks was formed.
You will find more information on Julian Rocks and the species recorded at http://julianrocks.net/ . This website was created by Lynda Clarke and is a photographic catalogue of species found in the area and updated regularly.
For all your diving needs up there visit Sundive Byron Bay, the friendly local dive shop. Their website will give you all the info you need; dive schedules, dive sites and costs are all available at www.sundive.com.au. Rachel from Abyss is familiar with the diving in Byron so don’t hesitate to ask her for any advice. They are a great group of guys and the diving in Byron is great, definitely recommend every diver should get up there! You can also check them out on Facebook here.