Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Looking Glass Island
Broughton Island is located off the coast of Myall Lakes National Park, just north of Port Stephens (named by Lieutenant James Cook, RN, in 1770). On the southern shore of Port Stephens is Nelson Bay and on the north shore, Hakes Nest/Tea Gardens. For more information about Nelson Bay, see my page on this small town.
About 12 kilometres from the Nelson Bay marina is Broughton Island. Also part of Myall Lakes National Park, it is really made up of a big island (Broughton) as well as Little Broughton Island, Looking Glass Island, North Rock, Inner Rock and some smaller islets. In calm seas it is a nice easy run out to the island. In north-easterly winds (common sometimes early in the day in summer) or in southerly winds, it could be advisable to stay closer to Port Stephens. In good condition it is about 50 minutes to the island in Pro Dive's large boat.
The main diving here is done on the southern or eastern side of the "island". The most popular first dive is The Looking Glass (on Looking Glass Island of course). This is a crack through the island and reminds me of the Poor Knights in New Zealand. This dive is usually done from the western side of the island although you can do it from the eastern side.The crack is about 5 to 10 metres wide (depending on where you are) and it runs for 40 or 50 metres right through the narrow island. The crack extends above the water for the most part. The depth comes up from 26 metres well outside the entrance (where there are excellent shear walls and large boulders) to 12 metres, deepens a bit to 15 and then 18 metres at the far end of the crack on the other side of the island. There is a swim-through inside the opening to the crack (a cave within a cave). The fishlife is quite good and the visibility also good.
After a first dive at Broughton Island, you normally go to Esmeralda Cove or one of the small beaches on the southern side of the larger island. Esmeralda Cove has are fishing huts and camping sites and looks absolutely fantastic. There are other protected places to have a cup of tea or coffee and a snack as well as a swim in the blue water.
All in all, Broughton Island is an excellent dive location, well worth the extra distance you have to travel in the boat from Nelson Bay. The service on my trips from Pro Dive Nelson Bay and the Hawks Nest Dive Centre was very good and I can certainly recommend them both.