Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Entourage Reef, 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 - Entourage Reef is shown by the coloured marker|
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.
Entourage Reef is located on the western side of the Great Detached Reef lagoon. This side is mostly open but along this side there are a series of small reefs and bommies that runs from almost north to south. Its location is GPS S11Âș 43.929 E143Âș 58.530' which is 1 nautical mile south of 6MP and Da Phat. The reef is shaped like an upsidedown boot when you look at it from the anchorage on the south side. The depth on the top of the reef is about five metres and from here it slopes gradually to over 40 metres but on the north side it drops vertically to over 30 metres.
Boats normally only anchor on the southern side of the reef, as this has the shallowest and largest area. This site normally has a current, but even if it is fairly strong, you only encounter it on about 10% or so of the site.
|One of the many gorgonias||A painted flutemouth|
The reef can easily be swum around in the one dive, but you certainly need to keep up a good pace, especially if you stay at depth. We went anti-clockwise, that is, we headed east from the anchor and then north up the short eastern side. This section as expected had a current, hence why we went here first so we were swimming into it.
Once around the corner we swam along the northern side which really runs to the south-east. We stayed around 20 metres or so for most of the dive. Down here there are some nice gorgonias. The wall on this side is more vertical than the other sides. We see some sharks and Kelly found a huge painted crayfish.
|A painted crayfish||The yellow crab in the legs of the feather star|
She also found a nice little crab on the legs of a feather star. There was a huge number of surgeonfish on this dive, mostly up near the surface. Even from the boat you could see them.
As the top of this reef is about five metres, it is a perfect spot to end your diving doing a long safety stop here. There is plenty to see on the reef including lots of anemones and clownfish.
We dived here in November, the water temperature was about 28ÂșC, visibility about 20 metres except on the eastern side in the current. A nice dive site.