Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving â€“ Lord Howe Island â€“ Ballina Bommie, Balls Pyramid
Virtually all of the diving at Lord Howe Island is done on the southern and northern sides of the island. However, if the conditions are good, that is, winds under 10 knots and less than two metres swell, the option opens to dive Balls Pyramid. This is located about 25 kilometres to the south-east of the southern end of the island. It is another nine or so kilometres from the dive shop to the southern end. It takes about 45 minutes to run down to Balls in good conditions.
Balls Pyramid is a huge rock that rises to over 500 metres high with mostly shear walls. Off the western end there are a series of large rocks. There are apparently many dive sites around Balls, with the best ones appearing to be near these rocks.
|Balls Pyramid. Ballina Bommie is the red marker.
|Balls Pyramid panoramic photograph - Lord Howe Island on right
In May 2022 when I went there we were lucky enough to get to Balls Pyramid with no wind and only about 1.5 metres of swell from the south. Our first dive here was at a spot called Ballina Bommie which is one of the rocks off the western end. Its actual location is GPS 31Â°45'03.744"S 159Â°14'05.363"E using WGS84 as the datum. The site gets its name from the rare Ballina anglerfish which is apparently seen at this site.
|A section of the reef
When I dived here there was a relatively strong current from the west. To do the dive, an anchor with a buoy was dropped near the bommie and we dropped from the live boat and swam to the buoy and descended down this. The anchor was in 24 metres and the maximum depth around here is about 28 metres. The bottom consists of a lot of large boulders as well as the bommie which actually breaks the surface as you can see from above.
I swam into the current and used the boulders to stay out of the current as much as possible. I threaded in and around them, protected from the current in spots. There were lots of fish, some Galapagos sharks, a few crayfish, a huge Spanish dancer and more. I tried to go up the bommies to my extend bottom time as 28 metres on the bottom.
|Even more of the colourful reef
|A Galapagos shark
However current was strong higher up the bommies, so I had to go back deeper. As well as the fish mentioned above, there were lots of butterflyfish and other tropical species. As the site is relatively deep, I only spent 25 minutes on the bottom.
We went back up the dropline but after two mins at five metres, I got bumped off by another diver so I did the rest of my stop hanging behind. This was not too hard as all the divers on the line protected me somewhat from the current. I ended up drifting away with the divemaster and saw some big kingfish when on my safety stop as well as some batfish.
|Spanish dancer, very large
|Dot and dash butterflyfish
On my dive in May, I had 21.6Â°C water temperature and at least 40 metres visibility. An excellent dive site.