The great land “Down Under” is home to a varied number of live aboard itineraries. When thinking of diving in Australia, many folks immediately think about the Great Barrier Reef. There are many liveaboards that ply the G.B.R, however, there are also liveaboards located in both South Australia and West Australia. There are more than a dozen liveaboards operating in the country serving areas such as the Kimberlies, Rowley Shoals, the Great Barrier Reef, as well as great white shark diving in the south.
The vast majority of boats cruise in north Queensland and depart from Cairns or Townsville. The Great Barrier Reef offers incredible itineraries including Lizard Island, Cod Hole, the Ribbon Reefs, and Steve’s Bommie. These sites feature amazing encounters with large schools of fish, plentiful sharks, sea snakes, napoleon wrasse, and of course the famous potato cods at Cod Hole. During certain months of the season, beautiful Minke whales cruise these waters and many liveaboards create itineraries around their appearance.
Not to be outshone by Queensland, Western Australia also offers unique diving opportunities. The Rowley Shoals are remote tropical reefs located 150 miles west of Broome. The diving in this area is wild and wooly! Beautiful reefs are found along with plentiful schools of fish and a healthy shark population. The Kimberleys are one of the most iconic and beautiful areas of Australia. Soaring karst limestone formations dot the landscape north of Broome. Although the Kimberleys are not a diving destination, many boats do offer cruises and encounter incredible marine life such as sharks and salt water crocodiles. A few smaller boats also offer trips in the wonderful Ningaloo Reef region. This is one of the best areas for diving in Australia offering frequent encounters with whale sharks, manta rays, other sharks, big schools of fish, and wonderful macro opportunities.
In South Australia the Rodney Fox company offers cruises to encounter the famous Great White Shark in the Neptune Islands. These trips are truly special with shark cage diving both at the surface as well as a special bottom cage. These trips depart from the town of Port Lincoln and range from 5 – 8 days in length.
As Australia is such a large country there is almost always a cruise that is scheduled. The Great Barrier Reef is open to diving all year round. The Rowley Shoals and the Kimberlys on the west coast are typically served for only a short time, September through to November. Diving with Great Whites in South Australia is available all year round.
Australia is large and the seasons are varied. Diving in northern Queensland offers temperatures of around 23 C in the winter to 30C in the summer. The waters in South Australia are cold all year round with temperature typically in the low teens. Surface temperatures in South Australia can be below zero in the winter months and more than 30C in the summer months. The diving along West Australia is typically during the warmer part of the year with water temps of 24-30C.
The most famous site in the Great Barrier Reef, this offshore site is located in the Ribbon Reefs area of north Queensland. The area is well known for a large population of resident Potato Cods or groupers. These fish have been hand fed for over 30 years and are very used to divers. Divers can get up close and personal with these fish and take fantastic photographs. Minke whale also show up in this area during certain times of year.
The Neptune Islands are located in far South Australia and it’s the home of the infamous Great White Shark. Cage diving is the way to dive in this area near Port Lincoln. Encounters with these largest of carnivorous sharks are available all year round. As an added bonus sea lions and seals are also common in the area and boats often make a stop to encounter them.
One of the best dive sites in all of Australia. This 109m shipwreck sank during a cyclone over 100 years ago in 1911. It’s location 12 miles offshore in tropical Queensland means it’s a bastion of life. Lying in 28 meters on the seabed, the top reaches within 14 meters of the surface. Eagle rays, marble rays, schooling barracuda, giant trivially, sharks, and almost everything else can be found here. The amount of life on this wreck is possibly the highest of any wreck on the planet.