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    "There are two dive sites at Middle Ground, both are fantastic"
    Research Area, Wistari Reef - Heron Island
    On my trips to Heron Island in June 1989 and later in October 1989 for the Heron Island Dive Festival, I only did one dive that was not on the main Heron Island reef. This was a dive to the adjacent Wistari Reef.

    Wistari Reef is located straight opposite the entrance to the Heron Island harbour and it is only a five minute run in the boat to the reef. There are a few dive sites that are visited and these are on the eastern side of the reef. Note that in 1989 there was a day use platform (used by people bought out from Gladstone for the day only) on the north-eastern corner of the reef, I am not sure if it is still there.

    The dive we did was called Research Area but I notice that in 1989 there is no dive site by that name on the Heron Island dive shop web site. There are Wistari 1 and 2 sites and I assume that one of these is the site we did back in October 1989.

    Research Area
    A very rough map I drew of Research Area in 1989
    Note depths are in feet

    The site consisted of a series of six large coral bommies that are located off the main reef wall. The wall is not straight and was quite wavy, with very large indentations or bays. It runs roughly north-south. The mooring was located on the third bommie from the south.

    Once on the bottom the depth around the bommie is about 15 to 16 metres. You should straight away see that there are other bommies near you. To the north there are two in a row at right angles to the main reef and to the south, you should see at least the first of two running parallel to the reef. Assuming that there is no current or if slight, from the south, follow the dive outlined below.

    The bottom consists of a sandy slope that drops from about six metres under the reef wall to over 18 metres below the bommies. From memory, it went deeper but there did not appear to be much down there to see. The slope has lots of small coral outcrops as well as the larger bommies I have already mentioned.

    Head south and circle each of the bommies as you go. You should see some white-tipped reef sharks patrolling the open water. There is also the chance of seeing rays and even manta rays (we saw some from the transfer boat when passing on one trip).

    Head south for about 100 metres before coming up to the wall. Follow this back to the north, examining all of the bays/indentations until you are back near the bommies. Head back over to the mooring bommie and then explore the three bommies that are situated to the north.

    If you still have time, go back to the main wall or spend your time around the mooring bommie.

    Things to see on this dive include anemones, clownfish, flutemouth, pipefish and all the usual coral reef fish. From memory, the coral was a bit damaged back in 1989 from a cyclone that hit a few years before but hopefully it is back to normal now.

    Note this article was written in 2008 so my memory may be a bit out with some aspects of the dive site and things may have changed in the almost 20 years since I last dived there.

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