Reef Dive | Boat access
Depth: 3 m (9.84 ft) to 22 m (72 ft)
Level: Advanced Open Water and beyond.
The Arch is is a unique area of coast where an arch has worn away in the rocks on the shore line to create a prominent feature on the southern coast of the Mornington Peninsula, between Bushrangers Bay to the west and Simmons Bay to the east, towards Cape Schanck from Flinders. There are a number of named boat dive sites nearby including: The Arch, Shark Cave, Swell Shark Gutter, Yellow Wall, The Nursery, and The Dungeons.
Heading west from Flinders towards Cape Schanck you pass some spectacular and rugged scenery with towering basalt cliff, blowholes and coastal stacks. Be sure to give West Head and Bismark Reef a wide berth, as swell builds up over these shallow reefs on even the calmest days. Passing The Blowhole and majestic Lady Face Point, The Arch comes into view. It's situated about eight kilometres west of Flinders and is named after the rock formation in the cliff inshore of the dive site.
There are several options when diving The Arch. The most obvious is the dropoff on the seaward side that tumbles to about 22 metres and is decorated with gorgonians, occasional dusky sea ferns and a healthy population of blue throat wrasse and leatherjacket. There are many deep ledges and holes, and one large cavern know as Shark Cave that normally houses a family of Port Jackson sharks. You may even get a glimpse of the unusual upsidedown pipefish swimming inverted under the ceiling of a ledge.
Closer in to shore is a shallow reef with what looks like a riverbed of clean white sand winding through it and heading into shore. This is the home of several reef species including sea sweep and magpie morwong. With a maximum depth of 10–12 metres, you an enjoy a safe long dive here on a day when there is little or no swell.
Further west in the lee of Pelican Point is Swell Shark Gutter, a spectacular area with schools of leatherjacket and sea sweep that trail divers and are approachable. The shallow reef platform is deeply dissected with gutters and chasms draper with bull kelp and decorated with ascidians. With a maximum depth of just nine metres you can spend lots of time here. The site is named after the sell sharks that seem to hang out here. The anchorage at the Swell Shark Gutter site is somewhat sheltered in the lee of the exposed reefs of Pelican Point and offers a huge area for exploration.
While Swell Shark Gutter is the ultimate as regards fish life, Yellow Wall is the pinnacle of invertebrate dives. Located a few hundred metres west of The Arch, this site needs ideal conditions as you're diving the actual cliff face where the swell seems to focus. The wall is covered with yellow soft corals.
Opposite Yellow Wall is huge bommie dotted with small grottos housing gorgonians of every colour with the occasional blue devil for added contrast.
A more sheltered location can be found at The Nursery. This site is just west of The Arch on the tip of a fairly high headland which drops almost straight to the water's edge, giving considerable protection from the south-easterlies. Close to shore the headland drops vertically into 18 metres of water and there are many swim throughs that seem like an underwater adventure playground. Watch the swells as you enter the tunnels, but be prepared to 'roll with the punches' — there is no point fighting the awesome force of tonnes of water. Just relax and enjoy the ride! On the south side of the wall is a section of reef at about ten metres which is dotted with ledges that house many small crayfish and juvenile fish species, hence the name of this dive site! If you rummage around in the kelp you are likely to find a catshark, and the deep ledges often reveal conger eels, bearded rock cod, and schools of bullseyes.
Yet another dive site here is The Dungeons tucked up in amongst the cliffs near The Arch. Here there is a series of deep vertical and horizontal cracks in the reef that lead to huge open-roofed caverns, swim throughs and kelp fringed gutters. Marine life here is particularly rich and colourful. There are walls of colourful sea-fans, a dungeon full of yellow, white and orange soft corals, and cracks full of abalone. Schools of sweep and old wives cruise along the wall, and you will find something new at every twist and turn. With a minimum depth of 15 metres, this is one of the most exciting dives in the area.
Location: Flinders, Victoria 3929
MELWAY Ref: Page 258 G11
Entry/Exit: Access is by boat from the Flinders Boat Ramp in Western Port. Best to keep the dive boat live rather than anchor.
Ideal Conditions: If the swell is anything greater than 1 metre you should be looking for a deeper dive site offshore. For most of these dive sites you need absolutely perfect conditions with no wind, no waves and no swell. The sites face south, so any wind needs to be light offshore northerlies. See WillyWeather (Simmons Bay) as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.
Acknowledgement: We'd like to thank Alan Wiggs whose article "The Arch" in "Sportdiving Magazine" provided most the information you see above. See The Arch by Alan Wiggs
Divers have the opportunity to catch Abalone at this dive site. Remember your catch bag, legal abalone tool, current Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence, and abalone measure. Please abide by all current fishing regulations if you intend to catch abalone.
Divers have the opportunity to catch Southern Rock Lobster (aka Crayfish) at this dive site. Remember your catch bag, current Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence, rock lobster measure, and cray tags. Once you get back to the dive boat, or shore, make sure you clip the tail and tag your Crayfish as per Fisheries requirements. Please abide by all current fishing regulations if you intend to catch crays. See article-catching-crayfish for practical cray hunting advice from The Scuba Doctor, plus melbourne-cray-dives for a list of other crayfish dive sites near Melbourne. For tips on cooking your Crays, please see article-cooking-crayfish.
Back Beach Warning: Always keep an eye on sea conditions throughout any dive on the Back Beaches of the Mornington Peninsula. Please read the warnings on the web page diving-the-back-beaches before diving or snorkelling this site.
Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes parts of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula, French Island and Phillip Island, plus Western Port. We wish to acknowledge the Boon Wurrung as Traditional Owners. We pay respect to their Ancestors and their Elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge Bunjil the Creator Spirit of this beautiful land, who travels as an eagle, and Waarn, who protects the waterways and travels as a crow, and thank them for continuing to watch over this Country today and beyond.
The Arch, Flinders Location Map
Latitude: 38° 29.883′ S (38.49805° S / 38° 29′ 52.98″ S)
Longitude: 144° 56.301′ E (144.938346° E / 144° 56′ 18.05″ E)
Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2022-04-01 16:34:52 GMT, Last updated: 2022-04-05 10:00:22 GMT
Source: Google Earth
Nearest Neighbour: Simmons Bay Sea Caves, 1,279 m, bearing 47°, NE
Flinders, Mornington Peninsula.
Depth: 3 to 22 m.
DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.
The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.