Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Hugos Trench - Julian Rocks
The Far and Mid North Coasts of New South Wales has the best beaches of any location in the world (and I defy anyone to show me better). This section of coast covers a length of coastline from the Queensland border to around Forster, just a few hundred kilometres north of Sydney. This spectacular section of coast runs about 600 kilometres and there are fantastic headlands and islands that make the coast one of the most popular areas in Australia for tourists. Byron Bay is such an area of the coast. Named in 1770 by Lieutenant James Cook, RN, commander of HM Bark Endeavour, after Lord Byron (well, he actually named the headland Cape Byron), Cape Byron is the eastern-most point of the Australian mainland.
Located about three kilometres north of Cape Byron and a bit further off the main Byron Bay beach, Julian Rocks is a bundle of rocks that covers a very small area. One of the first protected marine areas in NSW (and in fact, in Australia), Julian Rocks has a marine environment that is amazingly good. Despite this, very few divers from Sydney tend to visit Byron Bay as it is too far from Sydney to make it possible to be dived on a weekend (or even a long weekend for that matter). For more information, see my Byron Bay article.
One of the dives at Julian Rocks is Hugos Trench. This is on the Southern End of Julian Rocks, near where the Turtle Hole to Southern End dive finishes.
Hugos Trench is a large gutter that runs up towards the island (in a rough south-north direction) from a depth of 16 metres. The depth comes up a bit to 10 metres before dropping to 14 and then coming up to 5 metres before the trench finishes. Along here we see very prolific fishlife. There are huge amounts of wobbegongs, 14 in one location alone, as well as almost a hundred bream. There are many other species in the trench in large numbers, including sweep, yellowtail and nannygai. There are even a few firefish as well as many clownfish.
At the end of the trench, we see four enormous jewfish that come over through the white water and then disappear as soon as they see us. We come back along the trench a bit before rising up over the ridge to the east. We drop down over the wall to 12 metres where we see more turtles hiding in holes. The wall drops further to over 20 metres but we stay a bit higher (18 metres). We head back in a southerly direction and see nine eagle rays in two groups. The trip back to the mooring is as enjoyable as the first part of the dive although we do not see the same quality of fish as the first half. The end of the dive is spent at five metres on the top of a section of the reef and we exit the water after 53 minutes.
Once again, this is an excellent dive site, one of the most enjoyable I have done.
All in all, the dives I have done at Julian Rocks have been of the highest quality, as good as any dive location I have visited. Make sure you get up to Byron Bay soon.