Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Corinne's Canyon
I have done many dives that are memorable, the USS Aaron Ward in the Solomons, SS President Coolidge in Vanuatu, The Arch and Stony Creek in Jervis Bay are but a couple of them. In April 2002 I found another such site, closer to Sydney than any of the above.
Norah Head is at the northern end of the New South Wales Central Coast (90 minutes from Sydney). There are some very good dive sites here as well as some nice caravan parks to stay in. There are many great dive sites here, the only real problem being that all boats have to be launched from a very rough boat ramp straight across the beach into the open ocean. This limits the types of boats that can be used and also limits the weather conditions in which boats can be launched and retrieved.
Six kilometres to the south of the boat ramp is a dive site called Corinne's Canyon. The site consists of a wall that runs east-west. This is an amazing wall, dropping from 21 metres on top to about 31 metres on the bottom. More about the wall later.
The GPS reading for the site is a latitude of 33° 19' 36" S and longitude of 151° 34' 04" E. Note that all the GPS Readings on my Web Site are taken using AUS66 as the map datum. If you use another datum you may be about 220 metres off the wreck. See my GPS Page for more details and how to convert readings. Once you get to the GPS Reading, run north or south and watch the depth on your sounder. If the depth is 20 metres or so, then run south, if around 30 metres, run north. Anchor on top of the reef if possible.
Once you have anchored, drop to the bottom. You should be close to the wall so head south and drop over to the bottom. In the location of the GPS Reading you will find that at the bottom of the wall there are two smaller walls, only a metre high. These create small canyons. A little further out there is a larger wall. Really, this is a series of boulders that the dive operator calls The Seven Apostles. I did not count them as I went east first and did not have enough time to explore them all at the end of the dive.
Once on the bottom, swim to the east along the wall. Once you have travelled about 20 metres or so the bottom consists of sand alone. The wall turns a little to the south and then east again. Here there are some boulders right on the wall and some interesting nooks and crannies. The whole wall is covered in sea squirts, gorgonias, sponges and the depth on the bottom is about 33 metres. It will have taken about 8 minutes to get here. You will need to turn around here. Come up to almost the top of the reef (28 metres) and check out the small inlets in the wall and the large boulders. Here I found a very aggressive cuttlefish which came out of a small overhang and grabbed my leg!
Continue towards the west and the anchor, rising to the reef top (24 metres here). When you reach the anchor, go out to the Seven Apostles and swim along them (28 metres) for a while before crossing back to the main wall and returning to the anchor. Spend any remaining bottom time in this area. Maximum dive time without entering decompression is about 20 metres if you spend half your time on the bottom and half on the top of the wall.
Fishlife here was not prolific, but there were some nice schools of yellowtail and seapike as well as some bream, leatherjackets, blue gropers, one-spot pullers, silver sweep and other species.
The dive shop at Norah Head closed in April 2002 but appears to have reopened in about 2005 but without a boat. Try the dive shop at Swansea, Aqua Zero, who may be able to help you.
Since this dive site is only 90 minutes or so from Sydney (even less from the northern side), it can easily be done as a day trip. Highly recommended.