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Melbourne Other Dives

Some of Melbourne's dive sites simply don't fit into the classifications of Bommie, Drift, Pier, Reef, Shore, Wall and Wreck. So we've put them here.

Chinamans Hat

Other Boat access
Ideal For Snorkelling Inside Port Phillip Bay Open Water Rated

Depth: 2 metres (6.6 feet) to 12 metres (39 feet)

Snorkel or Dive With Australian Fur Seals

Chinamans Hat
Chinamans Hat
© Unknown

Chinaman's Hat is an octagonal structure serving as a shipping channel marker and haul-out for local Australian fur seals, near the South Channel of Port Phillip. Earlier structures on the site once served as navigation beacons. In early 2002 the old structure was demolished and a new one built nearby.

History

The term Chinaman's Hat is the local name once associated with the site of a former military structure, Station M, but now transferred to a new seal platform erected by Victoria's Park Authority in 2002. The postwar structure was built to replace a dilapidated military installation erected as part of the Port Phillip bay defence system shortly before 1942.

Parks Victoria was granted a permit in early 2002 to demolish the old structure after arguing that it posed a risk for small craft navigation and was devoid of heritage value. In the face of public protests, the Authority went ahead and built an expensive alternative platform which was quickly disparaged by critics at the time as a veritable 'Taj Mahal for seals'.

Seal Paradise

Australian Fur Seal
Australian Fur Seal
© Julian Finn, Museums Victoria

This new Chinaman's Hat structure for the seal colony lies not far from the Mud Islands bird sanctuary. Chinamans Hat is also a minor roosting site for cormorants and other diving birds.

Initially the Australia fur seals gave the new structure the cold shoulder and refused to budge from their traditional, run-down landmark. It was only after the authorities proceeded to demolish the old haul out that they settled on the new platform, giving it their seal of approval. It's this new structure which now carries the name Chinaman's Hat.

The seals need to haul out of the water and have a deep sleep every few weeks after days of fishing. During this time they generally spend time scratching themselves and romping with each other. Unlike most seals, Australian fur seals like touching each other.

Diving and Snorkelling

Chinamans Hat
Chinamans Hat
© Dolphin Research Institute

Australian fur seals can be found sunning themselves at Chinaman's Hat. Together with Popes Eys and other structures and buoys, Chinaman's Hat is a popular haul out or resting site in the bay, and is occupied by a bachelor community of the Australian fur seals. It is a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers. Visitors to the site are warned to keep their distance, since the seals can at times behave aggressively towards people who approach too close.

Safety: At boat ramps or other manmade structures such as Chinaman's Hat, you must stay at least five metres away from seals. Never attempt to feed seals. See Encountering seals for more information.

Latitude: 38° 17.385′ S   (38.28975° S / 38° 17′ 23.1″ S)
Longitude: 144° 43.515′ E   (144.72525° E / 144° 43′ 30.9″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-02-16 07:16:01 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: William Salthouse, 2,543 m, bearing 317°, NW
Seals.
Depth: 2 to 12 m.
See the Chinamans Hat dive site page

Entrance Deep

Other Boat access
Deep Rated Inside Port Phillip Bay Reef Dive Site Subject to Shipping Slack Water Technical Rated

Depth: 30 metres (98 feet) to 103 metres (338 feet)

Entrance Deep is the very deepest dive spot known of anywhere in Victoria, being the bottom of the ancient River Yarra just inside the Port Phillip Heads in the main shipping channel.

The actual Entrance Deep spot where 103 metres deep has been reached is just 5 metres square. It takes incredible luck to get a shot line down 103 metres into this small 5 metre by 5 metre square target.

Some divers have located this spot by entering at Trimix Corner and descending down the wall looking for the deepest spot they can find. This approach is not always successful.

At 103 metres deep this is not a dive for the faint hearted. It's very black, barren and rocky, with incredibly treacherous currents. The ascent must be started while the tide is still coming in, slack water is very short, and the ascent must be back up the shot for as long as possible as the outgoing tide will quickly push you back over Rip Bank with a minimum depth of 20 metres. Pick up will be outside Port Phillip Heads.

See also, Herald Sun: Divers find life at bottom of Port Phillip Bay.

Latitude: 38° 17.794′ S   (38.296567° S / 38° 17′ 47.64″ S)
Longitude: 144° 37.854′ E   (144.6309° E / 144° 37′ 51.24″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-02-24 06:17:42 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: The Plateau, 366 m, bearing 28°, NNE
Depth: 30 to 103 m.
Dive only on: SWF.
See the Entrance Deep dive site page

Melbourne Aquarium

Other Shore access
Marine Park - No Fishing Open Water Rated

Depth: 4 metres (13 feet) to 7 metres (23 feet)

Melbourne Aquarium
Melbourne Aquarium
© Unknown

Level: Open Water and beyond.

Shark Dive at the Melbourne Aquarium

Experience the huge adrenaline rush of coming face-to-face with a shark! Take the plunge inside Melbourne Aquarium's 2.2 million litre Oceanarium. It's all part of an adventure where you'll encounter creatures of the deep and have an experience you'll never forget.

Take the plunge, dive in at the deep end for the ultimate challenge. Your thrilling underwater guided tour will bring you face-to-face with Grey Nurse and Sandbar Whaler Sharks, Giant Stingrays and hundreds of exotic fish.

Fully qualified instructors will ensure your dive is a thrilling, never-to-be forgotten experience! The dive is suitable for non-divers (a brief resort-style dive course is included) and certified divers.

More information...

Latitude: 37° 49.264′ S   (37.821061° S / 37° 49′ 15.82″ S)
Longitude: 144° 57.489′ E   (144.958158° E / 144° 57′ 29.37″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-02-16 05:00:37 GMT
Source: Google Earth
Nearest Neighbour: Kerford Road Pier, 3,255 m, bearing 191°, S
Depth: 4 to 7 m.
See the Melbourne Aquarium dive site page

Mud Islands

Other Boat access
Ideal For Snorkelling Inside Port Phillip Bay Marine Park - No Fishing

Depth: 1 metre (3.3 feet) to 8 metres (26 feet)

Go Snorkelling In An Ecologically Invaluable Wetland

Mud Islands
Mud Islands
© Unknown

Take part in an adventure to one of the most exclusive parts of Port Phillip Bay. The Mud Islands are the largest exposed sand bank in Port Phillip. They are forever changing shape due to storms, tides and sand movement, and are home to a delicate and unique ecosystem.

Snorkelling around the islands and observing animals within the seagrass meadows is an enjoyable past time. The seagrass meadows and fine muds around the islands are home to a myriad of worms, molluscs and crustaceans that are prey for birds and fish.

The Mud Islands reserve is located within Port Phillip, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) south-west of Melbourne, Australia, lying 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) inside Port Phillip Heads, 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) north of Portsea and 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) east of Queenscliff. The land area of about 50 hectares (120 acres) is made up of three low-lying islands surrounding a shallow tidal 35 hectare (86 acre) lagoon connected to the sea by three narrow channels.

First sighted by Europeans in 1802, the islands were originally named Swan Isles, because of the large number of swans on the surrounding waters. They were also known as Signet Islands and Flat Islands. It was not until 1836 that Lieutenants T M Symonds and H R Henry of HMS Rattlesnake surveyed the islands and renamed them Mud Islands. They were proclaimed a sanctuary for all native game in 1931 after a long history of guano mining.

Marine Life:
Mud Islands consists of shelly sand ridges capped by dunes which enclose a shallow lagoon and salt marshes, which are uncommon and of state geological significance. The dense seagrass habitat in Mud Islands supports at least twenty seven species of finfish and one species of squid. Fish are generally more abundant in the shallow (< 1 m) seagrass beds than in the deeper (2 - 8 m) beds.

The seagrass provides a nursery and breading area for a range of marine species including King George Whiting, Oysters, Muscles and Scallops. In the shallow seagrass beds the Wide-body Pipefish, Spotted Pipefish, Half-banded Pipefish and Port Phillip Pipefish are found. The Australian Giant Cuttlefish has been found in the deeper seagrass beds along with Red Mullet, Little Gurnard Perch and Yank Flathead.

Many shark species use the Mud Islands area for basking, and Bronze Whaler Sharks use the warm waters around the islands to give birth to their young.

Bird Life:
The low lying Mud Islands vegetation consists of saltmarsh and dune shrub land. This creates an internationally significant shorebird habitat and a birdlife photographers dream. The islands are a RAMSAR international wetland conservation area, with up to 70 species of birds. Mud Islands has the second largest crested tern nesting colony in Victoria. It is also a major roost site for waders with up to 5000 birds in summer, and it is also used by Australian pelicans. The Mud Islands also provide important breading habitats for spoonbills, cormorants, silver gulls and terns to name a few, while many long distance migratory species and a number of endangered species can also be found here.


Bird Life at Mud Islands | Credit: Parks Victoria

While you have the day to explore the island your interests may lie in soaking up some sunshine on the beach or in the shallows, viewing the skyline of Melbourne and the Portsea, Sorrento cliffs, while watching the ships navigate the channels.

To hop from island to island you may need to wade through water up to knee deep, so dress suitably and wear shoes such as wetsuit boots or sandals that can get wet. Bring a day pack with drink bottle, lunch, hat, sunscreen and a weather proof jacket and remember your camera and binoculars.

Access:
The Mud Islands can only be reached by boat, the most convenient departure points being Queenscliff or Sorrento. Day visitors are permitted, but overnight camping is not. Visits need careful planning to avoid the boat being stranded at low tide. The Mud Islands are in a 5 knot speed limited boating zone.

This site lies in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. The park is made up of six separate marine areas around the southern end of Port Phillip: Swan Bay, Mud Islands, Point Lonsdale, Point Nepean, Popes Eye, and Portsea Hole.

See also, Parks Victoria: Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park, and Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park - Map (PDF 1.4 MB).

Latitude: 38° 16.205′ S   (38.270083° S / 38° 16′ 12.3″ S)
Longitude: 144° 45.514′ E   (144.758567° E / 144° 45′ 30.84″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-02-16 05:20:01 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Medea, 3,544 m, bearing 291°, WNW
Ideal for Snorkelling.
Depth: 1 to 8 m.
Mean water temp - summer: 20.0°C.
Mean water temp - winter: 11.2°C.
See the Mud Islands dive site page

Trimix Corner

Other Boat access
Deep Rated Inside Port Phillip Bay Reef Dive Site Subject to Shipping Slack Water Technical Rated

Depth: 30 metres (98 feet) to 103 metres (338 feet)

Trimix Corner is used by some as a starting point for a dive to Entrance Deep, the very deepest known dive spot anywhere in Victoria, being the bottom of the ancient River Yarra just inside the Port Phillip Heads in the main shipping channel.

The actual Entrance Deep spot where 103 metres has been reached is just a 5 metre by 5 metre square target. Starting from Trimix Corner divers descend down the wall looking for the deepest spot they can find. Hopefully they find Entrance Deep, but this approach is not always successful.

At 103 metres deep this is not a dive for the faint hearted. It's very black, barren and rocky, with incredibly treacherous currents. The ascent must be started while the tide is still coming in, slack water is very short, and the ascent must be back up the shot for as long as possible as the outgoing tide will quickly push you back over Rip Bank with a minimum depth of 20 metres. Pick up will be outside Port Phillip Heads.

Latitude: 38° 18.021′ S   (38.30035° S / 38° 18′ 1.26″ S)
Longitude: 144° 38.350′ E   (144.639167° E / 144° 38′ 21″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-02-24 05:52:40 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Nepean Wall, 28 m, bearing 158°, SSE
Depth: 30 to 103 m.
Dive only on: SWF.
See the Trimix Corner dive site page

West Channel Pile

Other Boat access
Inside Port Phillip Bay Open Water Rated Reef Dive Site

The West Channel Pile is an active two-storey, octagonal lighthouse in Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia. It was built in 1881, replacing a lightship installed in 1854, to mark the North-East end of the West Sand.

Latitude: 38° 11.663′ S   (38.194383° S / 38° 11′ 39.78″ S)
Longitude: 144° 45.405′ E   (144.75675° E / 144° 45′ 24.3″ E)
Datum: WGS84 Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-03-12 13:22:12 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: Sea Bird, 1,162 m, bearing 225°, SW
Lighthouse.
Built: 1881.
See the West Channel Pile dive site page

Total of 6 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 for non-commercial purposes, you can now Download/view the Scuba Doctor Dive Map GPS Marks (KML file | 237.16 KB | 16-Mar-2019) 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.

The Scuba Doctor Online Dive Shop

We dive not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
— Old diver's proverb