When road-tripping on the great Australian east coast, it’s hard not to think that the Great Barrier Reef is the only scuba dive location. While we all know that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s top natural wonders (and did you know it is visible in space?), there are loads of other awesome scuba spots worth considering. With your east coast rental car you can hit up tons of great sites.

Whether you’re into huge sharks, finding Nemo and his friends, hunting for shipwrecked ghosts or just like the beauty of the reef, there’s bound to be something to amaze you.

Diving in Australia is a year-round activity so whenever you’re on road, there’s no excuse not to be getting in the water. Queensland’s climate allows diving all year, and in the south temperatures are best in the summer months. Certain marine creatures visit seasonally, so if there is something you’re desperate to see, make sure to research the best location and season. 

With all of that in mind, here’s our top five suggestions for your east coast diving adventures.

1. HMAS Brisbane, Sunshine Coast

Australia is known for a range of fantastic wreck dives and the HMAS Brisbane, an ex-missile destroyer, is one of two we think are worth a visit. Available to divers since 2005 when it was deliberately sunk, this wreck dive is less than 30 metres deep and parts of it are at approximately 15 metres. The dive is considered one of Australia’s top locations and you are likely to spot turtles, grouper and rays amongst other fish. Conditions usually provide good visibility and little in the way of current, which means it is accessible for relatively inexperienced divers. Some dive companies offer two dives on the same trip, as there is plenty to explore.

Best time to visit: Accessible year-round.

Access Point: Generally Mooloolaba


2. Julian Rocks – Byron Bay, NSW

Another of Australia’s famous dive spots, Julian Rocks has a huge array of marine life which means you have an excellent chance of spotting some of your favourites. Named by Captain Cook in 1770, it just so happens that Julian Rocks sees the meeting of warm and cold currents which is what brings such a diverse mixture of fish. Regular visitors include blue whales, leopard sharks, nurse sharks, rays and dolphins as well as a bunch of smaller creatures. There are numerous sites within the same area which makes it suitable for divers of all levels.

Best time to visit: Accessible year-round. Nurse sharks and humpback whales visit in winter, leopard sharks and manta rays arrive for the summer.

Access Point: Most likely Byron Bay.

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3. Yongala Wreck, Queensland

The SS Yongala tragically sank over 100 years ago with no known survivors. Nobody knows exactly what happened and it took 50 years for the wreck to be discovered. It’s now open to visitors, although divers are no longer allowed inside the wreck to encourage preservation. Hanging out at the Yongala are manta rays, eagle rays, turtles, snakes, barracudas, groupers and giant trevallies. If you’re lucky (or maybe unlucky depending on your perspective) you may also spot bull and tiger sharks.

Best time to visit: Accessible year-round. June to November may see minke or humpback whales. October to January might see a whale shark pass you by.

Access Point: Townsville or Ayr.

4. Fish Rock Cave, NSW

At Fish Rock Cave, Australia’s only ocean cave and one of the biggest in this hemisphere, you’ll encounter large schools of fish, grey nurse sharks and humpback whales. The cave is also home to colourful cuttlefish, bullseyes, black cod and a selection of other wildlife. An cave underwater is spectacular in itself and combined with such interesting marine life, this dive is a pretty different experience. For underwater photographers, silhouettes abound. It’s not just Fish Rock Cave here, there are other sites in the area so you may be able to take in some other dive spots at the same time.

Best time to visit: Humpback whales and their calves might make an appearance during the winter months.

Access Point: South West Rocks.

5. Rye Pier and Octopuses Garden, Melbourne

If you’ve had enough of the big stuff or you’ve seen it all before, heading south to Victoria provides an opportunity to see the smaller members of the ocean scene. Expect to see nudibranches, seahorses, octopuses, crabs and an array of sponges alongside handy underwater signage. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you might want to try out a night dive.

Best time to visit: It can get little chilly down south so summer dives are recommended.

Access Point: Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne.

While diving in Australia is well-regulated, before jumping in make sure to check the company you dive with is properly certified and provides up-to-date equipment. Some sites may require you to have dive qualifications. If you’re coming from overseas, make sure your travel insurance covers you.

To get your underwater adventure plans started, contact us today to book your car hire.