Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Macleay River Drift
As soon as I entered the water I knew this was going to be a dive I would remember for a long time. The visibility was 20 metres and water temperature 25°C. Almost straight away I saw an eagle ray and a couple of huge flatheads. The current picked up a bit and our drift dive got under way.
Past hundreds of leatherjackets, bream, sergeant majors and silver trevally I went. My depth was nine metres and off on the sand I saw heaps of whiting and a couple of kingfish. In amongst the reef were moon wrasse, damsels, butterflyfish, blue gropers and three or four species of surgeonfish. Under the rocks were conger and moray eels as well as luderick and blackfish. A few big mangrove jacks darted about, past the tiny cleanerfish.
As the depth started to increase I saw a school of 40 to 50 enormous mulloway (jewfish) out over the sand. The depth reached 15 metres and then gradually came up to nine. Ahead a turtle swam away from the reef and the current dropped away. a short swim brought us to the exit point. A fantastic dive!!
An exotic overseas location like New Guinea or Vanuatu? No. The Great Barrier Reef or even the Solitary Islands? Wrong again. In fact, this dive was not even in the ocean but in a river. It was unlike any dive I had ever done before.
Over the 11 years I had been visiting South West Rocks the one spot I wanted to dive was the entrance to the Macleay River. Circumstances (rain, wrong tides, no buddy) meant I had never dived it. Finally, on Good Friday in 1993 I tried it with my brother Stephen. the results are as described in the opening paragraphs to this article. On the Easter Monday I did it again with local diver Warren Davey. Again, a fantastic dive. Since then I have dived it two more times and each dive has been almost as good as the first time. I have found that you should enter the water about 20 minutes before the published high tide for Fort Denison (Sydney Harbour) and try to get a high tide without a large difference from the preceeding low tide.
If you want more information about this dive (or any other dive at South West Rocks) I can recommend the service provided by South West Rocks Dive Centre. They can be contacted on 02 6566 6474 and will give you directions to dive the river.