Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Red Flag
In September 1990, the Malabar Sewage Treatment Works in Sydney's south-eastern suburbs was finally upgraded and the locality transformed by the opening of the new deepwater outfall. This new pipeline took the basically untreated sewage (for that is what it is despite all the propaganda saying otherwise) four kilometres out to sea. This single action immediately opened up to divers dozens of previously undiveable sites, including the wreck of the MV Malabar. Now, instead of having to dodge untreated faeces and other objects like condoms, divers could actually dive with marine life.
One of the areas that became accessible because of this action was the area behind Long Bay Rifle Range. The rifle range extends from South Maroubra Beach to Long Bay itself, a coastline length of about four kilometres. All this section of the coast provides very good diving, including the wrecks of the SS Belbowrie, the SS Tekapo and the Goolgwai. Right behind the centre of the rifle range there is a small bay. At the head of the bay on the top of the cliff there is a red flag used to signify if shooting is in process. Below the flag, the sheer cliff drops away to a very small rock platform and then to water about seven metres deep. This area is a very good dive site.
The GPS reading for Red Flag is a latitude of 33ΒΊ 57' 46" S and longitude of 151ΒΊ 15' 52" E. Note that all the GPS Readings on my Web Site are taken using AUS66/88 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.
After arriving at this location, run to the north till you see the bottom come up from 23 metres to 18 or less. Anchor here and once in the water, swim out into deeper water. The reef edge is composed of large rocks, providing home to many species of fish. Further out, the rocks give way to a sandy bottom. The sponge life here used to be a bit stilted (immediately after the new deepwater outlet opened) but it has recovered quite remarkably in the past five years. As well, the slimy weed/algae that used to be found all over the area has disappeared due to the lack of nutrients. In the shallower areas, the bottom consists of a rock bottom with the occasional large boulder. There are a few tunnels and caves in this area, some extending a bit under the rock platform.
Swim to the east at first and examine the reef edge for as long as you want. Then, go shallower and come back towards the anchor. It is very interesting here, the depth is about 16 metres and if it is very calm, you can go up on top of the wall into shallower water. This whole section is very interesting.
The fishlife in the area can be excellent. As well as the usual red morwong, there are heaps of yellowtail, seapike, one-spot pullers and other similar fish. Bream and small snapper are seen in good sized numbers and wobbegongs and Port Jackson sharks visit at different times of the year. In September once I saw hundreds of PJs all over the sand.
All in all, this is a very nice dive if you can find someone to take you there since none of the Sydney charter boats dive this section of coast (except the Magic Point Sharks).