Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Broughton Island Big Shark Gutters
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.
Little Broughton Island is the eastern-most island in the Broughton Island group. On the south-eastern corner is Big Shark Gutters. The attraction here is the grey nurse sharks. The name refers to the size of the gutters, not the size of the sharks. Anyway, the site consists of a small inlet. From the point that creates the inlet, there is a reef that runs out south forming a large gutter. On the western side it is a vertical wall and a sandy bottom and on the east there is a sloping rock that runs down to sand. There are boulders on the sand. At the end of the main gutter the reef is shallower and forms some more gutters. There are normally sharks in both the smaller gutters and the main gutter. In June 2000 I saw about 9 or 10 sharks.
You can also swim to the south and then west. There are a few more gutters along here. A very good dive spot. Depth is 12 metres in shallows and 23 metres on sand.
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.