Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - North Bondi
Sydney residents would be aware that the waters around Sydney that were previously severely polluted by sewage are now much cleaner. At the time of writing, there are only two main sewerage outlets that still pour sewage into the ocean, these being located at Potter Point near Cronulla and Diamond Bay near Vaucluse. The three main sewage treatment works at Malabar, North Head and Bondi have all now switched over to the disposal of the effluent through deep-water ocean outlets that deposit it three to four kilometres off-shore.
The final treatment works to come on-line was the Bondi Sewage Treatment Plant. Prior to its connection in July 1991, the North Bondi and Flat Rock dive sites could only be dived in the right weather conditions when the sewage was blown away from the dive sites.
World famous Bondi Beach is located eight kilometres from the city. The diving at either end of Bondi Beach is excellent. However, the best dive site is at Ben Buckler Point at North Bondi. Drive your vehicle down Ramsgate Avenue to where the road splits into two. Take the lower road and you will find two small car parks just above the rock platform. These are now always full as the council has started to charge for parking in the streets and it appears residents who do not have exemption stickers park here now. Mostly you will need to park at the end of the upper road. Gear up in the car park and descend via the stairs at the north-western end of the lower car park to the rock platform. In very calm seas an excellent entry point is found right out to the south of the rock platform. In slight seas, an excellent entry is near the little break in the platform about 45° to the left of the stairs. In heavier seas, a good entry point is the rough boat ramp to your right. This is also the preferred exit point in all seas.
After entering the water, the best dive is to head directly to the south until you meet the sand. If you use the second entry point as described above, swim out 20 or 30 metres before descending. The depth here is five to six metres and the bottom is composed of large boulders. Swim due south, neither hurrying nor taking it too slow. Look under the rocks as you go and you may see moray eels, cuttlefish, eastern blue devils or eastern rock blackfish. Gradually the water gets deeper until after about 10 minutes it drops away to the sand. The depth here will be 15 metres.
Follow the edge of the reef to the east, looking under all the overhangs.
The bottom to your right is composed of sand with some small isolated rocks. On your left there are different sized rocks with numerous small overhangs but very few swim-throughs. About 100 metres north of the spot where you met the reef edge, a large flat rock can be seen about 10 metres from the sand. A good swim-through is under it.
As you go, look for common sea dragons which are relatively plentiful on the sand adjacent to the rocks. You should be able to spot at least four or five on every dive. You can also see serpent eels with their heads just protruding out of their sandy holes. As well, there are snakeskin wrasse, blue groper, senator wrasse, maori wrasse, crimson-lined wrasse and the rarer pink-lined wrasse in this area. After 10 minutes of slow swimming (total time so far 20 minutes) you will pass a small wall and the depth of the sand will be 18 metres. This is a good place to turn around as it takes about 30 minutes to return to the boat ramp. At this point you will be due south of the car park.
If weather conditions are extremely calm, you may be able to enter the water to the north of the first mentioned spot and head a bit further north before reaching the sand. This will get you to 21 metres. However, I would only do this if you are an experienced diver and very good on your air as it is a long swim back to safety, especially if the seas come up while you are under. There are some great swim-throughs formed by the placement of the many large boulders . This is a very interesting area.
Travel to the west with the reef on your right. Do not linger too long. After six minutes (26 minutes) you will be back at the 15 metre level and another six minutes (32 minutes) at the 12 metre mark. Here the main reef turns to the north, although a sort of minor reef heads out towards the middle of Bondi Bay. It is a fairly long way back to the exit point and the depth only gradually decreases.
The reef continues in a northerly direction until the depth comes up to 8 metres (42 minutes) when it turns more to the north-east. The boat ramp is found when the water depth has risen to about 3 metres (52 minutes). Be careful if you hear any boats in this area as small tinnies use the ramp at all times of the day and night. They run at full speed up onto the specially designed ramp so if you hear an outboard, ascend very carefully. For your exit, surface and crawl out onto the ramp.
If diving North Bondi at night or in times of poor visibility, beware of the reef that goes into the bay as you can easily follow it instead of the main reef and end up out in the centre of the bay and not back on the boat ramp.
There is abundant fishlife to be seen here. As well as common sea dragons and the other fish described earlier, fish to be seen include stingaree, garfish, wirrah, half-banded seaperch, blue-striped cardinalfish, silver trevally, bream, yellowtail, snapper, luderick, silver sweep, old wife, rock cale, red morwong, one-spot puller, white ear and girdled parma. Occasionally you will even see large schools of yellowtail kingfish circling around you.
The tides and currents do not really affect this site but seas from the south or south-east will make it undiveable. As mentioned above, parking is at a premium and you will need to arrive early to get a spot. All in all, this is an excellent day or night dive, suitable for all levels of divers.