Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Crocodile Head Gorge
The spectacular scenery of the Jervis Bay coastline is one of the most magnificent views you will ever see. The huge cliffs dramatically plunge more than a hundred metres vertically to the sea, with the beautiful colours of the sandstone making this a sight not to be missed. As you motor the few kilometres north from the entrance to Jervis Bay, take time to appreciate the beauty of the coastline and how lucky we are that the whole area was reserved for miliraty use more than 100 years ago, saving it from development.
One of the more popular dive locations at Jervis Bay is Crocodile Head. For the life of me, I cannot see how the place got its name as I can see no resemblance to a crocodile at all. Anyway, it is a very good dive location with a couple of very nice caves to explore (like everywhere in Jervis Bay). While the maximum depth here is about 23 metres, even if you head out to sea the depth does not increase dramatically.
On the northern side of Crocodile Head, just past the cave mentioned in the above paragraph, there is a small point that comes out a bit. Head out to sea some 100 to 150 metres and the depth of the reef is about 30 metres. If you run parallel to the shore in this location you will see the depth drop to over 50 metres in an almost single drop. This is Crocodile Head Gorge. Try to anchor in the Gorge as there is little to catch hold of on the top.
As you descend, you will hit the reef top at 30 metres (as the anchor will likely be right up against the reef). The depth then drops to 35 metres and then 40 metres in a very short distance (say 10 to 20 metres) before dropping to 50 metres. The bottom is made up of sand with some large boulders here and there. The depth gets deeper as you move away to the east and you can reach 53 to 55 metres without too much trouble. Have a look at the boulders and walls as the fixed marine life is spectacular and colourful. The sponges, sea whips, sea tulips, gorgonias, ascidians and other things are some of the best I have ever seen, rivalling Stoney Creek.
From the mouth of the gorge, swim up the gorge itself, following one wall, and it gradually narrows and then comes to an abrup halt. From here the view looks like one of those old westerns, where the cowboys have been cornered in a deadend gully. The end steps up a bit eventually reaching the reef top and could be an interesting explore. For now, turn back and follow the other wall back towards the anchor. There are some interesting fish to see, including eastern blue devilfish hiding under the walls and rocks, black reef and six-spined leatherjackets in between the boulders and on the walls, wobbegongs lazing on the rocks and small rays on the sand. If you are lucky, there are sometimes kingfish and other pelagic fish swimming in the open areas.
After examining the gorge itself, you can ascend the wall nearest to your anchor and spend a bit more time on the ledges that can be found a different depths (40 and 45 metres on the northern side for example) before returning to the reef top at 30 metres right next to your anchor. The top of the reef is basically kelp and not worth spending too much time exploring.
This is not a real "fish" dive, it is more the scenery and colourful fixed marine life that makes it worth doing. While the depth at the top of the reef means that it may appear to be diveable by all but the most inexperienced diver, I would not take anyone here who was not of sufficient experience as the ultimate depth means that it is only for the very experienced and properly equipped diver.
On my dive here we did not encounter any current but I believe that it may sometimes be affected.