Since I started diving over 20 years ago, there are some dive sites that have simply amazed me. Some of these are shore dives, in locations that you would not even think could be half as good as they actually are. A few divers look down on divers who do shore dives, thinking that becasue they only do boat dives they have better dives than shore divers. This is far from the truth.
|A satellite photo of the Gold Coast Seaway|
Entry and exit point is under the top white writing
Some of the best dives I have ever done have been shore dives. Of course, overseas there are the wrecks of the SS President Coolidge in Vanuatu, Bonegi One, Bonegi Two and the Runinui Wrecks in the Solomon Islands and Million Dollar Point also in Vanuatu. Closed to home, in Australia Bare Island in Sydney is constantly getting better, Swansea Bridge on the NSW Central Coast is brilliant for fishlife and the Rapid Bay Jetty has leafy and common sea dragons.
In mid-2006 I read an article in DIVE Log about a dive location at the Gold Coast in Queensland. Even though I have been a regular visitor to this area for the past few years visiting my future mother-in-law, it had not occurred to me that there was a quality dive location within a few minutes of the centre of the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise. This location is called the Gold Coast Seaway.
In mid-December 2006, Kelly and I travelled to the Gold Coast again to visit her Mum. We decided that we would do a couple of dives and I spoke to Ian Banks at Dive The Gold Coast. He graciously loaned us a tank and weights so we could do this dive and even showed us the spots and pointed out some features when we ran into him underwater.
The Gold Coast Seaway is located at the northern end of The Spit and is the main opening between the Broadwater and the open ocean. It is maybe 300 metres wide and extends for about 700 metres or so. The southern and northern sides are composed of rocks which form an artifical reef. The open has been extended out a bit into the ocean to create a breakwater. As you can see from the above satellite photograph, the breakwaters give great protection to the Seaway from most swells.
The rocks that form the sides of the Seaway go down to about five to seven metres and it is then sand. This then slopes deeper in some parts. This dive is at the southern most end of the breakwater as shown in the satellite photograph at top right.
To find this location, head to Surfers Paradise and from the main north-south road, take the road that leads to Sea World. This is well signposted and it also has a sign pointing to The Spit. Go along the waterfront past the first marina, take the left access from the roundabout and head north past Sea World and Sea World Resort. A short distance past this you will come to a large carpark on your right. You can turn left immediately before the carpark or go to where the road comes to a T-intersection. Turn left at either location and go as far as you can. From the first spot where you can turn, you will come to a T-intersection and turn left. This is the road that comes from the first T-intersection mentioned above.
|A photo of the entry and exit point |
About 200 metres along the road veers left and you will notice that the rock breakwater ends here. Immediately ahead is a very small carpark. Park your car here if there is a spot or across the road under the trees.
This dive can be done at any time, although there is a current unless you do it at high or low tide. However, it is better is done on the high tide or an incoming tide. If you do it on an incoming tide, you can do a second dive at high tide at The South Wall Pipes. It is very important that you follow this for a number of reasons. First, the current gets very strong here. Second, the sewage pipe discharges treated effluent after high tide (see later). Make sure that you enter the water as close as you can to high tide and certainly not too far after the high.
Walk over to the spot indicated in the satellite photo and you will see that there is a narrow beach that runs south from here. This is the entry and exit point for the dive. Note that you could enter the water a couple of hundred metres north from this spot off the breakwater and drift back to exit here if you wanted to.
Once geared up, walk to the beach and enter the water till you are chest deep. On a weekend or public holiday you will have a lot of wave action from passing cruisers, so make sure you keep your wits about yourself.
|Two photos of some of the five harlequin ghost pipefish we saw at this spot|
Snorkel out a few metres (not too far as the cruisers come quite close) and drop to the bottom. The depth is only a few metres and it may be a bit dirty due to the wave action disturbiing the sand. Head north-west and you will see that there are a few very small rocks that form the edge of the breakwater. After a minute or two you will be in at least four metres and the breakwater starts to appear to be more prominent. Head north or at least follow the edge of the rocks. For now, do not look too much at this area as you can examine it in detail on the way back.
After about four minutes the reef created by the breakwater is very prominent and your depth will be about six to seven metres, depending on the tide. Start looking for things. On the rocks, especially in between the larger ones and in the shadows, look for harlequin ghost pipefish. When we did this dive, Ian Banks showed us two specimens when we ran into him underwater and my fiancee, Kelly, found another three about 20 metres further along. They appear to hide in the shadows created by the vertical sides of larger rocks and to hang with their noses down or at 45 degrees down.
Other things to look for are large flathead, many species of tropical fish (like bannerfish, butterflyfish and more), bream. There are also many eels hiding in between the rocks. These can be very firendly, although we encountered one that was very cranky!
|Another photo of one of the harlequin ghost pipefish||A shrimp we saw|
As mentioned, since this is beast done on an incoming tide or at high tide, you will be running into the current for the first part of the dive. If you are doing on the incoming tide, you will have an easy swim back tot the exit spot. The current can be a bit strong, but it is not too bad and should not cause you any problems.
Whatever you do here, if you lose your buddy, do not ascend. Head back to the starting point and exit on the beach as close as you cant o the rocks or head east and exit on the rocks. There are so many large cruisers, yachts, tinnies and jet skiis going past this location that it would be extremely foolish and dangerous to ascend straight off the edge of the reef.
|An eel we saw on this dive|
This is a great dive, with amazing fishlife and the added chance to see some rare harlequin ghost pipefish. Well worth doing many times.
Thanks to Ian Banks from Dive The Gold Coast for the loan of tanks and weights.