Ex-HMAS Canberra Recreation Reserve
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The ex-HMAS Canberra, a former warship which served the Australian Navy between 1981 and 2005, is the first artificial reef in Victoria created specifically for diving. The vessel was scuttled off Barwon Heads in October 2009 and now lies in approximately 28 metres of water.
The dive site offers divers the opportunity to explore a large portion of the ex-HMAS Canberra, including flight decks, bridge, engine rooms, galley and the accommodation quarters. Over time marine life will continue to colonise the wreck, transforming it into a spectacular reef.
Access to the site is limited to visitors who are participating in diving or snorkelling activities only.
A dive permit is required for all independent recreational dives at a cost of $30 per vessel. Permits are available for a maximum of two hours (except after 10pm).
The permit allows use of mooring number 2 only. Mooring 1 is reserved for licensed tour operators. You do not need a permit if you book your dive through a licensed tour operator.
Book dive permits online or call the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963.
Wreck diving is challenging, adventurous activity and can also be dangerous.
Divers are reminded that they must be appropriately trained, certified and experienced in Victorian conditions to dive the site. Divers must comply with Australian Standard AS4005.1 as a minimum level of certification.
Any vessel with divers operating from it must always display signals by day or night to inform other users. Signals should be placed to ensure all round visibility.
Divers are advised to take all necessary precautions, be aware of changing weather conditions and watch for potential hazards.
Parks Victoria regularly monitors the condition of the ex-HMAS Canberra in accordance with the long term management and monitoring plan for the site.
In mid-2011 access to the site was temporarily closed in the interests of public safety. Loose sections of the helicopter hangar have now been removed or relocated onto the adjacent seabed. Further assessment has concluded that the vessel is relatively stable.
It is expected that a progressive breakup of the vessel will occur over time due to exposure to strong currents, tides, wave action and storm surges. The continuous movement of sand has also resulted in a significant build-up inside and around the vessel.
Divers need to be aware of the potential for loose items within and adjacent to the wreck. Obstruction to entry/access hatches from either these items or the movement of sand could result.
How to get there
The ex-HMAS Canberra is located offshore from Ocean Grove within Bass Strait in Victoria. It is approximately 25 minutes by boat from Queenscliff Harbour (on the Bellarine Peninsula) or Portsea (on the Mornington Peninsula). Melway Maps 497-498.
The dive site is clearly marked by two special mark buoys and two mooring buoys.
Parks Victoria has installed one diver shot line to enhance diver safety and increase diver satisfaction. The shot line assists divers to locate the vessel.
The shot line is located at the bow of the vessel connected to the main mast. It is made of green 24 mm nylon rope and has an orange float attached to the rope.
The line will be regularly serviced as part of the monitoring and maintenance program in place for the ex-HMAS Canberra.
Access to the dive site is restricted to only those participating in diving and snorkelling activities.
To enter the dive site divers must either:
- Book a dive tour with a licensed tour operator, or
- Book a two hour time slot on the public mooring through Parks Victoria.
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