Melbourne Drift Dives

Melbourne Drift Dives by The Scuba Doctor

Drift diving can provide you with some of the most exhilarating dives of your life. Especially in Melbourne where at the right time of the year, the currents can be very strong.

Some Melbourne drift dives are about the thrill of being swept effortlessly along in fast current. Others are about cruising along slowly taking in the spectacular underwater terrain. And in Melbourne, some are about covering an area of the sandy sea bed floor of Port Phillip while gathering a feed of scallops.

Drift diving in Port Philip is a little different to drift diving in other areas of the world because of our strong currents and the amount of boating traffic. Divers are typically split into separate groups depending on numbers and are given a long length of rope, around 50 metres, with a buoy and dive flag attached to one end. The idea is to descend as a group spaced along the line keeping parallel to the current. It sound tricky but it isn't. This is really the easiest form of diving as very little kicking is required or navigation. You just go with the flow! Your air supply lasts longer and the terrain is always changing.

Before you undertake a drift dive in Melbourne, please read our guide to Diving in Melbourne Currents.

Melbourne Drift Dive Site Locations

You can see where the popular Melbourne and Victorian drift dive locations are via our Melbourne Dive Sites Map. The GPS marks for these drift dives are also listed here, plus on our Melbourne Dive Site GPS Marks page.

Here are some Melbourne drift dive sites where you might get to fly underwater.

Artifacts Flood

Drift Dive Boat access
Latitude: 38° 17.995′ S   (38.299917° S / 38° 17′ 59.7″ S)
Longitude: 144° 41.287′ E   (144.688117° E / 144° 41′ 17.22″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-14 23:04:09 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Quarantine Station Reef, 563 m, bearing 221°, SW

Boarfish Reef Drift

Drift Dive Boat access

Drift Dive Site Inside Port Phillip Bay Open Water Rated Reef Dive Site

A drift dive over the famous Boarfish Reef area.

Latitude: 38° 14.420′ S   (38.240337° S / 38° 14′ 25.21″ S)
Longitude: 144° 42.583′ E   (144.709717° E / 144° 42′ 34.98″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-14 22:50:34 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Mountain Maid, 287 m, bearing 335°, NNW
Depth: 6 to 20 m.
Dive only on: SWF, SWE.

Catch Bag Reef Drift

Drift Dive Boat access

This is a great crayfish dive site. The name Catch Bag Reef Drift originates back in the mists of time. The story goes that one day a cray diver of great notoriety had the largest cray he had ever seen in his catch bag. Unfortunately as he handed his gear to the boat the catch bag was lost along with the cray.

This drift is conducted on the flood tide over a kelp forest in the Lonsdale Bight between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff. This site also makes a great slack water dive.

During the drift you will encounter large fronds of kelp with broken sandstone reef, home to the Southern Rock Lobster (Crayfish) and Abalone. During the summer months, big schools of large Yellow Tail Kingfish can be seen.

Latitude: 38° 17.144′ S   (38.285733° S / 38° 17′ 8.64″ S)
Longitude: 144° 37.981′ E   (144.633017° E / 144° 37′ 58.86″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-15 18:01:56 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Lonsdale Wall, 207 m, bearing 265°, W
Depth: 12 to 24 m.

Cattle Jetty Drift

Drift Dive Boat access

Cattle Jetty Drift is an interesting drift dive near the remains of the Cattle Jetty used to land livestock destined for the Quarantine Station facilities at Point Nepean. This facility was dedicated to confining new stock arrivals until they had been declared free of disease.

Latitude: 38° 18.095′ S   (38.301583° S / 38° 18′ 5.7″ S)
Longitude: 144° 40.825′ E   (144.680417° E / 144° 40′ 49.5″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-16 21:49:12 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Quarantine Station Reef, 380 m, bearing 128°, SE
Depth: 8 to 18 m.

Kelp Beds Reef Drift

Drift Dive Boat access

Crayfish Dive Site Drift Dive Site Inside Port Phillip Bay Open Water Rated Outside Port Phillip Bay Reef Dive Site

Kelp Beds Reef Drift is conducted on the flood tide over a macro cysts kelp forest in Lonsdale Bight between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff. This dive site also makes a great slack water dive, with depths ranging from 10 to 21 metres. During the drift dive you will encounter large fronds of kelp with broken sandstone reef, often home to the Southern Rock Lobster (Crayfish) and Abalone. During the summer months, big schools of large Yellow Tail Kingfish can be seen, or large schools of Old Wives.

Latitude: 38° 17.008′ S   (38.283469° S / 38° 17′ 0.49″ S)
Longitude: 144° 39.584′ E   (144.659729° E / 144° 39′ 35.02″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-15 23:25:49 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Hot Spot, 275 m, bearing 39°, NE
Depth: 10 to 21 m.
Dive only on: Flood.

Quarantine Station Reef

Drift Dive Boat access

Drift Dive Site Inside Port Phillip Bay Open Water Rated Reef Dive Site

Named after the Point Nepean Quarantine Station, this is a fantastic drift dive site. It's located about 200 to 300 metres out in front of the old Quarantine Station on Point Nepean. The quarantine station operated for over 100 years from the early 1850s to about 1950. During that time hundreds of ships anchored here for extended periods of time, to ensure that no communicable diseases were brought into the colony of Melbourne.

The reef here has its top in about 12 metres and runs East to West parallel to the current. The reef drops away to the South with depths of 20 metres able to be reached. The reef is very nice with lots of soft corals and sponges.

It's the possibility of spotting artefacts discarded from the sailing vessels over 100 years ago, that make this dive exciting. The site has 6 large anchors and is littered with old bottles, china plates, bowels, cups, clay jugs and the occasional 9 inch black powder gun shell. Some very good finds have been made in this area including intact plates from the White Star Line, P&O, Black Ball Packets, Pacific Steam Navigation Company, A.U.S.N.C and a full carving plate from the Albert Star. One day it's just an underwater sand dune, the next day a treasure display.

This site can be shore or boat dived and can be dived on any tide or slack water. The best time is when the water is moving and drift diving is the most common way to find things and cover a large area without swimming too hard.

While there is a light reef area, it's mostly a sandy bottom. There is not a lot of life on the bottom. At times there can be a lot of Spider Crabs, and Stingray hide in the sand. The odd pod of Dolphins and the occasional Seal can be seen in this area.

Latitude: 38° 18.222′ S   (38.3037° S / 38° 18′ 13.32″ S)
Longitude: 144° 41.030′ E   (144.683833° E / 144° 41′ 1.8″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-16 06:02:30 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Cattle Jetty Drift, 380 m, bearing 308°, NW
Depth: 12 to 22 m.
Dive only on: SWF, SWE.

Rye Scallop Drift

Drift Dive Boat access

Drift Dive Site Inside Port Phillip Bay Open Water Rated Scallops Dive Site

The goal on this drift dive is to enable enough ground to be covered to ensure you can fill your catch bag with great big fat juicy scallops. The scallop beds move around a little, and there is no guarantee you will see them straight away. But rest assured you will see them.

The dive site itself is in Capel Sound off the bay beach of Rye. It's not too far away from a large marker pylon with "13" on it and a structure of pylons with seals. The bottom is flat sand with Scallops, Stingrays, Sea Squirts, Flat Head, and Large Spider Crabs. (The crabs are not suitable for eating.)

Latitude: 38° 20.005′ S   (38.333417° S / 38° 20′ 0.3″ S)
Longitude: 144° 51.003′ E   (144.85005° E / 144° 51′ 0.18″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-14 23:18:59 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Hurricane, 2,078 m, bearing 114°, ESE
Depth: 15 m.

Sponge Garden Drift

Drift Dive Boat access

Drift Dive Site Inside Port Phillip Bay Open Water Rated Reef Dive Site


Sponge Hollows, by Jane Headley.

Sponge Garden Drift takes you over massive sponge gardens and shallow reefs. It's the colours of the sponges that make this dive stunning. As in any drift dive the terrain is always changing and you originally start drifting over an area of shallow reefs then over the sponge gardens and finally over larger reefs and Bommies.

The fish life on these dives varies just as much as the terrain and of course there is always the chance of coming across old bottles and other collectable artefacts.

Latitude: 38° 16.501′ S   (38.275017° S / 38° 16′ 30.06″ S)
Longitude: 144° 39.971′ E   (144.666183° E / 144° 39′ 58.26″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2018-01-16 06:09:34 GMT
Source: Peter Fear GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: Torpedo Reef, 286 m, bearing 215°, SW
Depth: 12 to 20 m.
Dive only on: Ebb.

Total of 8 dive sites.


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.

If you don't understand the differences between the different ways coordinates are given, plus how different datum come into play, you might find the article GPS Conversions by Lloyd Borrett (100 Kb, 5 pages, Adobe PDF) a useful read. It describes the problems associated with locating dive sites using a GPS receiver.

GPS latitude explained


Scuba Doctor Dive Map KML File

In the true spirit of making it easy to obtain, utilise and share the information, you can now Download/view the Scuba Doctor Dive Map GPS Marks in the Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth and Google Maps.

Some marine GPS units can import the information from a KML file. For others you can use use a file translate program (e.g. GPSBabel) to convert the KML file into an import file format (e.g. GPX) supported by your GPS unit.


Please Help Us To Correct GPS Marks and Add More Melbourne Dive Sites

If you have have information about other dive sites you'd be happy to see added to the information available here, or any corrections and/or updates to the diving site GPS marks listed here, please feel free to Contact Us.

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