Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Turtle Farm, Queensland
Great Detached Reef is located at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland, Australia. It is about 125 nautical miles (230 kilometres) from Thursday Island in the Cape York area (the pointy tip of Australia) and 75 nm (140 kilometres) from Lockhart River. The is 45 nm (85 kilometres) east-north-east from closest point of the Australian mainland, Cape Grenville. It is just over 4 nm south of Raine Island, the largest green turtle nursery in the world.
|A chart showing the location of Great Detached Reef (bottom right)
and Thursday Island (top left)
|Great Detached Reef - Turtle Farm is the mark
Great Detached Reef is a reversed C shaped reef made up of a number of separate sections. It is located a little off what is the main outside section of the Great Barrier Reef, although here that reef is merely a series of small bommies or reefs. Great Detached Reef is 11.5 nm from north to south and 8.8 nm east to west. The west (open) side of the reef has a series of bommies and small reefs along a large part of its length.
There are only a couple of boats that travel to this area, one being Kalinda which routinely does full boat charters there in November and December. Another boat does some trips there and one more might go there once or twice a year.
Kelly and I travelled here in November 2016 on Kalinda with fellow members of St George Scuba Club when we chartered the whole boat. We flew into Horn Island (next to Thursday) and started our trip from there.
Turtle Farm is located on the western edge of the Great Detached Reef lagoon. It is the northern-most of a series of isolated reefs and bommies that run north to south along this side. Its location is GPS S11Âș 41' 51.6" E143Âș 58' 13.1". The depth on the top of the reef is about five metres and from here it drops gradually to 50 metres.
We anchored on the eastern side of the smallish reef. The prevailing current seems to be from the north so we went into current to the north, keeping to about 20 metres maximum. At the point there is a large bommie and on the way we saw huge ampunt of fishlife. There were lots of spanish makeral, giant trevallys, other trevallys, grey reef sharks, white-tipped reef sharks, kingfish and more. There were two huge sea whips about half way along.
Coming back we were shallower at about 12 metres. There were lots of anemones and clownfish, Moorish idols, long-finned bannerfish etc. As well we saw a few unicornfish and red bass.
|A grey reef shark
|A Moorish idol
We also did a night dive here and there were lots of small shrimp and crabs, a couple of nudibranchs, an epaulette shark, tiny flutemouths, lots of Moorish idols and bannerfish. Before the dive we saw a large tiger shark and after I got out, one swam around the boat with three divers still in the water! On the day dive, one diver also saw a striped marlin.
Safety stops can be done on the wall, there is so much to see here, I spent 15 minutes each dive here.
|A goby on a small sea whip
|These bug like things were very common and very small
We dived here in November, the water temperature was about 28ÂșC, visibility about 30 metres. A brilliant dive site.