Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site
Home Contact Me Sydney Reef Dive Sites Sydney Shipwrecks NSW Dive Sites Australian Dive Sites Overseas Dive Sites Dive Accidents and Incidents My Yachting Adventures 4WD Trips Weather Search 29 May 2024 12:00

About Me
My Diving
Web Links - Dive Clubs
St George Scuba Club
Some of my Best Photos
Contact Me

Dive Sites
Sydney Reef Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwrecks
Sydney Dive Visibility, Swell and Temps
Kelly Talking on ABC Sydney about Shipwrecks
NSW Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwreck Summary
NSW Shipwreck GPS/Marks
Australian Dive Sites
Overseas Dive Sites
Aircraft I have Dived
Old Bottles
Free Shipwreck Books

Dive Related Equipment
Shearwater Predator and Heinrichs Weikamp OSTC 2N
Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers
Apollo AV1 Underwater Scooter
Bauer Compressor
DIY Oxygen Stick - Nitrox
GoPro HD Hero Video Camera
My Camera Setup
Purchase of New Dive Boat
My Dive Boat - Mak Cat
My Old Dive Boat - Le Scat
My Dive Gear
GPS and Diving
Make Your Own Car Tank Rack

Marine Life
Rarer Sydney Marine Life
Bare Island Pygmy Pipe Horses
Bare Island Sea Horses
Bare Island Nudibranchs
Bare Island Marine Life
Encounter with Southern Right Whale and Calf

Other Dive Info
How Weather Affects Diving in Sydney
Visibility and Wave Averages in Sydney
Waves and Diving
Diving Weather and Sea Conditions
Tide Tables
Dive Accidents and Incidents
Dive Book Reviews
Site Map
Noel Hitchins 1951-2005
Lloyd Bridges - Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt
My Yachting Adventures
Below is a list of links to the main pages about my yacht, Catlypso and My Yachting Adventures:
  • Purchase of Catlypso
  • Details about Catlypso
  • Cleaning/Repairing Catlypso
  • My Yachting Adventures.
  • Login


    Forgotten your password?
    Request a new one here.
    Michael's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of my Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
    Home Brewing
    Click here for an article about Home Brewing.
    Sydney Dive Site Hints
    "Pizza, KFC, Maccas and hungry Jacks are close to each other"
    Fish Rock - Land of the Giants
    Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Land of the Giants Fish Rock at South West Rocks on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales is a magical dive location. There are at least nine or ten different dive sites at Fish Rock, all of which would have to rate 9 or 10 out of 10.

    Fish Rock
    A map of Fish Rock

    One of the most exciting sites here is the Land of the Giants. This site is located on the eastern side of the island and is the most difficult of the dive sites. It is also the one that requires certain, specific conditions to get the best of the dive. You will need flat seas and either no current or a slight to moderate current from the north. I would suggest that anything more than 1.25 knots is too strong as you will zip past the site too quickly.

    The Pinnacle East EndQueensland Gropers
    Looking along the south-eastern corner of The PinnacleTwo very large Queensland gropers on the main wall

    The dive begins at The Pinnacle on the northern end of Fish Rock. This is a twin peaked mountain that rises from 30 to 35 metres right up to 6 metres. As you descend the southern wall of The Pinnacle, you may see a grey nurse shark or two in the sand gutter below. I have seen as many as 10 here on the one dive. Do not spend too much time looking at them as there is a lot more to see and the depth means you do not have much bottom time.

    Cross the sand gutter and turn east. Follow the wall that comes down from the Colorado Pass area. If you do this, after about 20 metres or so you will have a shear wall that comes down from the surface on your right. The depth on the bottom starts off at 30 metres in the gutter and gradually deepens, getting to over 40 metres at the southern end of this dive. The bottom is composed of sand with small boulders covered in sponges and sea squirts.

    Land of the GiantsLand of the Giants
    Looking along the main wall of
    The Land of the Giants with a grey nurse shark disappearing in distance
    A huge school of blackfish and mado

    Follow the bottom at first but as it gets deeper, come up off the bottom a bit. I would suggest staying at a maximum of 35 metres at first and then moving up to 30 metres. Do not linger too long deep as this is a long dive, with almost all of it deepish. This means you have limited bottom time.

    Along the wall you will almost certainly see some giant Queensland gropers. In June 1999 I saw three, one about two metres long and the others a little bit smaller. In September 2007 I also saw three, two very large and one smaller. I have also seen a lot of grey nurse sharks here on some dives, but none on one. I have also seen a grey nurse shark with a deformed second dorsal fin. There are also many wobbegongs along the sandy bottom and on some small ledges on the wall.

    Huge schools of long-finned bannerfish can swirl down the wall from the shallows and cross your path. Brilliant! I have had large schools of yellowtail kingfish and bream swim past us and and huge schools of black drummer and eastern rock blackfish circling us.

    Kelly on the wallSand Gutter
    Kelly on the wall of the Land of the GiantsKelly about to cross the sand
    gutter mentioned 2 paragraphs below

    This dive can end a number of ways. You can either continue on to the southern side of Fish Rock and get back on your boat at the mooring or you can circle back towards your starting point near The Pinnacle. To do the second option, you must have no current whatsoever. The first option is the better dive in my view.

    If you choose the second option, once you come to a large ridge that runs down to the sandy bottom, go over this ridge/wall at the southern end of the bommie (at about 20 metres) and then move east back into Colorado Pass (the area between the bommie and Fish Rock). You will cross over a sandy basin at about 27 metres (stay at about 23 metres if you can) and which has a small cave at the northern end. From here head west or north-west and come back up to 20 metres and spend your remaining bottom time here and then on the eastern wall of Fish Rock.

    TurtleFish and Chips
    Kelly and a turtle out at Fish and ChipsSome of the huge schools of fish at Fish and Chips

    If you decide to go to the southern end of Fish Rock, then you can follow the above directions but once you cross the sandy basin, follow the reef towards the south, with ocassional changes in direction to the west.

    The alternative to this is to continue south and once the wall ends (it comes back to the sand, like a ridge - you will be at 25 metres or more), swim south-west across the sand till you hit the wall to the north of the deep end of Fish Rock Cave. For both dives to the south side of the island, follow this to the south till you can and go around it to the west into the dive site called Fish and Chips (this is east of the gutter at the deep entrance to the cave). This would be the preferred option in a stronger current. However, make sure that you do not go too far south or you will not be able to get out of the current.

    Once here, head west till you see the sand gutter and then south-west across a ridge and another gutter and then a ridge. This will put you in the main shark gutter on the south side of Fish Rock. Swim along this till you find the mooring that your boat is tied up to.

    Fish Rock main GutterBlack Coral Tree
    Looking along the main shark gutterKelly behind a large black coral tree in the main shark gutter

    On this dive you will see the fish mentioned earlier as well as yellowtail, pomfrets, silver sweep, bulleyes, leatherjackets and firefish.

    To get the most out of this dive, you need a current to get the fish working as well as to make the long swim easier. A current of up to one knot would be suitable, but no stronger and half a knot would be ideal. This dive is only for experienced divers who a very good on their air. With no current it will take at least 40 to 45 minutes to do this dive (including safety and deco stops). With a very slight current, you can knock a few minutes off that and with a half knot, you could probably cut five minutes off. You will certainly go into deco if you keep too low, so watch your depth all the dive.

    An amazing dive, as good as any you will do in the world.

    For more photos of grey nurse sharks at Fish Rock, go to the Fish Rock Grey Nurse Photo Page.

    I can recommend the services of South West Rock Dive Centre. They can be contacted on 02 6566 6474, fax 02 6466 6959 or email.

    Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2024
    Non-commercial use of an article or photograph is permitted with appropriate URL reference to this site.
    Dive shops, dive operators, publications and government departments cannot use anything without first seeking and receiving approval from Michael McFadyen.
    This web site has been wholly thought up, designed, constructed and funded for almost 30 years by Michael McFadyen without any help from the Australian Dive Industry.
    Website created 1996!