Guest article written by Underwater Photographer and PADI Instructor Matt Testoni.
Australia has its fair share of the world’s best dive locations and can boast some of the world’s most pristine tropical reefs. But what about the more unique underwater experiences? Scattered throughout the country are some amazing locations few people know about. From sinkholes to seadragons and sharks, if you want a seldom dive adventure experience, Australia is the destination to add to your bucket list.
Kilsby Sinkhole, South Australia
Located in the beautiful South Eastern region of the Australian state of South Australia, this sinkhole has some of the clearest water you will ever dive in. The sinkhole itself sits among a series of paddocks inside the Kilsby family farm and they very kindly allow access to divers on certain days. As soon as you descend down into the sinkhole, your breath is taken away by the sheer clarity of the water. Entering the calm, clean and fresh water from an underground aquifer is an invigorating and strange experience, being able to have a cheeky sip however is just plain amazing! As you descend, the light rays from above strike down creating a picturesque scene straight from a magazine. The clarity of the water is nothing short of impressive. Peering into the depths you can easily see the bottom of the sinkhole at over 50 meters/164 feet from the surface. If you’re searching for unbelievable visibility this is the place to dive!
Spider Crab Migration, Victoria
Every year in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, hundreds of thousands of melon sized spider crabs gather to molt their shells and emerge a fresh. They need to do this on mass to avoid becoming easy prey for the sharks and rays that follow them around hoping for a quick and easy snack. Diving among huge piles of these crustaceans really is about as unique as diving experiences get – just make sure your buoyancy skills are up to date! However the dive is not just about the crabs, swimming inside a small school of smooth rays as they head towards a feast is another fantastic element of the dive. These 2 meter/6.5 foot wide animals will slowly get to know you and once they have relaxed, the will treat you almost as one of the gang. Thankfully the crabs aren’t edible to us. Unfortunately, recently excessive collectioning by those that don’t understand their in-edibility have been threatening their populations.
The Shark Den, New South Wales
In the sandy underwater gutters of a small island just off the coast of the small Eastern Australian town of South West Rocks, is a shark lover’s paradise. Grey nurse sharks (or sand tigers sharks as they are alternatively known) populate this area on mass. These critically endangered animals almost became locally extinct in the 70s/80s due to shark scare campaigns which portrayed them as man eaters and resulted in a mass cull. Whilst they may look fearsome, these 2-3 meter/6.5-9.8 foot predators have never been known to attack a person and instead, prefer to hunt small fish at night.
When scuba diving down into the rocky gutters it is common to see up to 40 sharks cruising gracefully up and down the rocky underwater ridge lines. The best way to view them up close is to pick a spot amongst the rocks and wait. Curiosity often gets the best of large sharks and they will most definitely come in for a closer look once they feel safe. This dive site also boasts an impressive 100 meter/328 foot long cave that can be safely dived with the help of a guide – that is if you can pull yourself away from the natural grace of the grey nurse shark.