Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Wedding Cake Island - NW
One of Australia's greatest ever rock groups, Midnight Oil, had a hit song (albeit an instrumental one) about the bunch of rocks located off Coogee Beach, Wedding Cake Island. This haunting song is truely representative of the great dive sites located around the island.
Wedding Cake Island is a bunch of rocks about 150 metres long (north-south) and maybe 50 metres wide located about 400 metres off the southern headland of Coogee Beach and about a kilometre from the beach itself. The rocks only stick up out of the water a few metres at high tide but they provide great protection for Coogee Beach in southerly seas.
|Wedding Cake Island - this dive is to the north west of the top of the island|
I first dived Wedding Cake in December 1990. That dive was (I think) on the north-eastern corner of the island and was a pretty good dive from what I remember. I have also dived the south-eastern corner. One of the problems with this dive site is that it is located quite a way from the closest boat ramp or wharf (it is 8.5 kilometres from the northern headland of Botany Bay and 10 kilometres from South Head in Sydney Harbour). It is a round trip of 41 kilometres from the Cooks River boat ramp at Kyeemagh in Botany Bay. Because of the distance, you need relatively calm seas to be able to get to the dive site. I am not aware of any dive shop that dives this site regularly but Pro Dive at Coogee and Sydney Dive Academy at Matraville may do it. However, if you can find a dive boat that will take you there, you will find a relatively untouched dive location.
Travel to Wedding Cake Island. 33° 55' 42"S 151° 16' 00"E (GPS to come) and this will place you off the north-western corner of the island. 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. Approach this point from the northern headland of Coogee Beach and anchor when you see the reef come up to 15 metres or so.
In this section of the island, the reef starts at 5 metres near the rocks and drops to 8 metres, then 15 metres, then 18 metres and finally 20 metres on the sand. After descending, head out to the north (deeper) until you encounter a very small gully and then a larger gully. The bottom of the gully is 17 metres. Head left and follow the gully till you reach the sand edge at 20 metres. Follow the edge to the left (south and south-west) as far as you wish. The edge is a series of ledges interspersed with a lot of small boulders. Turn around and come back a little higher on the reef.
When you reach the gully you came down, head back up it and past the spot where you joined it. Keep going and you will get to 10 metres. The bottom here is a lot of small boulders. Turn right and come back (south-west or west) along the 10 metre contour following the boulders for five minutes and you should be in the vicinity of the boat's anchor. Drop to 15 metres and return back to the east and you should find the anchor.
If you have any time to kill, head into the shallows for a while.
Fishlife can be profilic here and some of the fish that can be seen include bream, old wife, luderick (huge numbers in shallows), blue groper, combfish, black reef leatherjacket, one-spot pullers and bullseyes. All the usual more common fish will also be seen, together with many species of nudibranch. Sponges, ascidians and soft and hard corals also abound.
If you dive Wedding Cake Island by boat from Botany Bay, try the sharks at South Maroubra as a second dive, either using a second tank or keeping 70 bar of air.
In summary, a nice dive site, worth quite a few visits.