There’s a whole other side to the Australian coast that few see – but here’s how to get a scuba view with a difference worth diving for.
1. Underwater Photography Workshop, Port Stephens, NSW
Mastered the art of taking photos on land (or not)? Either way, you can now get snap happy underwater with this Dive 2000’s unique photography workshop. Over a weekend at beautiful Port Stephens, you’ll improve your underwater photo skills as trained instructors teach you practical knowledge and techniques on capture styles, equipment, composition and lighting plus more. The quality ‘selfies with the fish’ you’ll bring back will impress the kids to no end… Suitable for intermediate divers; from $395 per adult.
2. Project Manta, Lady Elliot Island, Queensland
In the waters of Lady Elliot Island of the GBR, you can combine your love of scuba diving with doing good, contributing to the world’s first manta identification database (while frolicking with them in the water). Over eight days, you’ll photograph the mantas, study their habitat and help out leading scientists, in between unwinding at the very lovely Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort. See Earthwatch. Suitable for intermediate divers; from $3595 per adult.
3. Freshwater cave Diving, Mt Gambier, SA
Never heard of this experience? Good – the locals want to keep it that way! Diving Mt Gambier’s outrageously clear sinkholes is a truly unique experience: spot the rare pygmy perch and aquatic eels in Ewens Ponds, or head to the popular Piccaninnie Pond, where you can swim through the 30-metre-high, underwater limestone chamber aptly nicknamed The Cathedral. Hopefully you’ll spot some tortoises on your way, too. Suitable for beginners, diving permits from $11 per adult; See Mount Gambier Point attractions
4. East Coast Dive Trail, Tasmania
It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tasmania, but the east coast of this southern state offers 11 surprisingly great dive sites. From the northern town of Binalong Bay to Tasman Island, you’ll find shipwrecks, seahorses and everything in between in these turquoise waters; hire a car for a few days, make it a DIY scuba crawl and hop from location to location experiencing the sites (and sights) along the way. Most are suitable for beginners. See Discover Tasmania for more information.
5. Dive with the wild sea lions, Baird Bay, SA
We just had to include this dive, which was voted one of our 100 Greatest Holidays of Australia. The wild Australian sea lions at Baird Bay are playful, cheeky and said to be more intrigued by us than we are of them. Play with them in the clear lagoons just off the Eyre Peninsula, experiencing their distinctive antics – and the local aquatic flora – at the same time. There are also bottlenose dolphins in the area, so you may get lucky and see both! Suitable for beginners; from $150 per adult, $75 per child; bairdbay.com