Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Bypass Reef
Botany Bay is the busiest port in New South Wales, with a number of very large oil tankers and container ships entering through the heads each day. The outer northern headland of the bay is Cape Banks. Despite the traffic in and out of the bay as well as the commercial development around the bay and on its tributaries, the diving in and Botany Bay is amazingly good.
There are a number of extremely good dive sites within a few hundred metres of the headland, including Minmi Trench, Cape Banks, Henry Head and the wreck of the SS Minmi.
One site that was not discovered by scuba divers till mid-2010 is a site located just off the northern headland. This reef was discovered by a group of divers from St George Scuba Club. The owner of the boat who found it, John Beddie, had to have a heart bypass operation a short time after they found it, so the buddies on the boat decided to name it Bypass Reef.
Head out of Botany Bay, keeping a few hundred metres off Cape Banks till you come to GPS S34° 00' 19.5" E151° 15' 05.9" using WGS84 as a datum. Note that you should check my GPS page if you do not know what a datum is or how it affects the use of a GPS.
The co-ordinate will put you on a section of the reef at about 26 metres. The reef drops from about 20 metres to 25 or 26 metres and then to about 30 to 31 metres. Run in from the east towards the mark and you will see the depth come up from 33+ metres to 28 metres then to 26 metres and then 20 metres. Try to anchor in the 26 metre depth.
When you descend, if you are in 26 metres, you should see a shear wall to the west and a bunch of large boulders. The boulders form swim-throughs and small caves. In addition, the wall has a few large overhangs or caves, especially near where you are anchored.
From the anchor, head south along the wall. You will see a few more caves, one of which is large. There are normally dozens of red morwong in this cave. Just past here the deeper wall (30+ metres) joins up with the main wall. From here head back to the anchor and then north a bit. There are some more swim-throughs and small overhangs.
If you are a bit off the main wall and are in 28 metres, then you can go to the east and you will drop over a smaller wall into deeper water. This is the sand edge and the depth is 32 to 33 metres. There are some low overhangs. You can head north for a bit and then back south and then back up onto the 28 metres level and back to the anchor.
There are also sea dragons at this site and I have seen eastern blue devilfish as well. One-spot pullers and Port Jackson sharks (in August-October) are seen in large numbers. We have also seen big belly sea horses here as well.
This site also has lots of small gorgonias and sea squirts. It is very colourful.
This is an excellent dive site, well worth doing many times.
Of course, as this is a deeper site, you do not get a really long bottom time, probably about 17 to 20 minutes on air before you go into decompression.