Abyss Scuba Diving

A Long Weekend At South West Rocks


A Long Weekend At South West Rocks

When you hear South West Rocks, what comes to mind? Sharks? Fish Rock Cave? Great diving! All of these things?! You do get some beautiful resident Grey Nurse sharks when diving up at South West Rocks, & often some quite big ones at that. In addition to the Grey Nurse, there are frequently some really big turtles up there too; you’ll have to keep your eyes out though as they tend to blend into the rocks! 

While the sharks tend to steal the show, you also get some amazing wild cards up at South West Rocks. We have seen Humpback whales, both breaching at the surface near the boat, and even from under water! We have seen Tuna, some beautiful Eagle Rays & Mobular Rays, once a Black Marlin & even a Manta Ray! Recently they’ve had another special shark coming in and taking some of the limelight; Hammerheads! They are seen from time to time as they migrate up and down the East Coast of Australia, but it now seems to be a regular part of their migratory pathway. If you’re lucky enough on a dive around Fish Rock, you might be able to see a school of hammerheads silhouetted against the sunlight as they pass you and the Grey Nurse overhead! 

Another exciting feature found there is Australia’s largest swim-through - known as Fish Rock Cave. Fish Rock cave is usually entered from the deeper end in about 24m of water. Before entering, torch checks are conducted along with air checks to make sure everyone has at least 150 bar. In order to enter the cave, you have to first swim past a huge school of fish (often Mado, sometimes Yellowtail or Bullseyes, or a combination of all three!). As you swim through, your torch reflects the shiny silver skins on the fish and distracts from the darkness ahead. There is a big cavern when you first enter so you can get your bearings and see the Wobbegongs & Port Jackson sharks, Groupers & Cod that are usually hanging around the entrance. There is then a passageway, called ‘the chimney’, up to slightly shallower territory. Beware, you will be greeted by a cheeky Wobbegong staring at you as you reach the top lip of the chimney! As you pass in single file through the top of the chimney, the next chamber starts to open up and as you swim towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your torch shining all around as you’ll sometimes see the beautiful Painted Crays in the cracks of the rocks. There’s a massive resident Black Cod that might be hanging out above, big rays swimming below, Port Jacksons, Wobbegongs, and an abundance of life in all directions. There is also a bubble cave that’s worth popping your head up into to check out!

As you get to the light, have a close look at some of the fans and enjoy the beautiful colours of the coral, and look out for smaller, macro marine life. This is where you’ll often get Grey Nurse sharks hanging around as well, just at the mouth of the cave entrance. Enjoy looking at them limned by the sun penetrating into the cave behind them. Just outside the cave exit, have a good look around for eels and other life in and amongst the rocks there. Once everyone has regrouped, you’re ready to deflate and face the climb over the ripping current over the wall and down into what’s known as the Aquarium. Hang on and don’t let the current take you - take your time and confirm your position before grabbing on to the next rock. Once you hit the top of the crest, head down the wall and enjoy the Groupers & Lionfiish. Look out wide for Eagle Rays & Mobular Rays, look up for Hammerheads, and you never know what else you’ll encounter at this spectacular part of the dive. 

South West Rocks is about 5 hours North of Sydney and as such we usually like to try and take advantage of a long weekend to make the most of the longer drive. We normally do 3 days of diving on our weekend trips up to South West Rocks. The diving is so well organised, the accommodation is easy - just up the stairs from the dive shop. The accommodation is bunk style with a huge lounge and kitchen area and a few bathrooms to share. Based on availability, you could upgrade to a twin-share room as they have additional accommodation next door with 4 rooms, 2 bathrooms, it’s own living area and kitchen. Continental breakfasts are stocked up and available each morning. If you’re Nitrox certified, they provide free nitrox for your dives; if you’re not, you can undertake your training while on the trip with us. You do, however, need to be minimum of Advanced OW certified for this trip. Between the cave and average depths of about 24m on the dives, an AOW certification is necessary prior to joining us for the weekend. 

After the dives, your afternoons are left free to explore the gaolhouse, go for a scenic bush walk and enjoy some secluded beach swims, or book in for a SUP, enjoy a walk along the esplanade, or head to down for window shopping and a cold beer at the local pub! 

After our last day of diving, it’s time to pack up the car and begin the drive back to Sydney and kick into your shortened week ;-)

Check out our next available trip to South West Rocks

 By Andria Payne