Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Anchor Reef
The area south from Botany Bay has numerous dive sites. Not many people dive this area as there is no dive boat that operates on a regular basis out of Botany Bay and even if one did, it would probably operate to the north of the Bay's heads.
From whereever you launch in Botany Bay (we use the Cooks River ramp at Kyeemagh as it is better than the Port Botany one), head out towards the heads and then towards the southern headland. Go past Captain Cook's Landing Place at Kurnell, past Inscription Point and The Leap. Turn south and after about 600 metres you will see on shore the remains of a coastal defence pillbox. Straight off here is the dive site we have named Anchor Reef (since it has so many anchors on it).
Go to GPS mark 34° 00' 38.7"S 151° 13' 51.6"E (note that all my GPS Readings are using AUS66 - if you use any other datum, you will need to convert the reading - see my GPS Page for more details). Run in from the ocean towards the shore and you will see that the bottom comes up from 22 to 23 metres to about 18 to 19 metres. Drop anchor in a suitable spot depending on the wind.
This should put you in the vicinity of the most interesting parts of this site. Start your dive by heading to the wall and then going north. There are a number of small overhangs and cracks and one or two small rocks off the wall. The bottom on the right is sand and the wall has some sponges and gorgonias. Look for sea dragons and serpent eels on the sand. Under the overhangs there are blue devilfish and large cuttlefish. After about 10 minutes, you will come to an area where the reef flattens out closer to the sand so examine this area and come up to the main wall. Turn around here. Note that in this area we saw a medium sized shark on our first dive here. At first we had no idea what it was. I searched all my fish books and could not find anything that looked like it. The distinguishing feature was that it had similar sized first and second dorsal fins and was very long and skinny. The only shark I can find that has similar sized first and second dorsal fins is the grey nurse shark. However, these normally have a distinctive humped back and dots over their sides. I had no idea what it could be! In July 2006 I dived Fish Rock at South West Rocks. On these dives I encountered a grey nurse shark that had a very thick rope attached to its tail. This shark was very, very skinny and had no spots. It looked exactly like the shark we saw at Kurnell. I am now convinced that this shark was a grey nurse.
Go back along the wall, this time sticking closer to the wall or even along part of the top. Once back in the spot where you anchored, continue south. About 20 or 30 metres on there is a gully that runs to the west. On the south side of the gully there are a number of large boulders and in between one and the main reef, there is a swim-through created by a large rock that sits on the top of the reef and a boulder. The area to the south needs to be explored more. Come back to the gully and swim up a short way before heading north again. You will come up over the reef wall and be in 18 metres or so. Keep going south till you see your anchor. The bottom on the top of the wall is composed of sand on top of rock with lots of kelp. This extends for about 25 to 30 metres to the west.
If you still have air and bottom time, head to the west across this sandy bottom and you will see another wall. The wall is really lots of large rocks. If you go up and down it for a while you will see one area where there is a few large boulders and in between them there are small gullies and a number of really good swim-throughs. There can be a lot of fishlife here, one-spot pullers, yellowtails and seapike.
Return to the anchor and ascend.
One drawback of this dive site is that as it is at the entrance to Botany Bay, it is subject to possible poor visibility. However, if you dive on high or incoming tide you should get reasonable visibility. On my dives here we have had from around 20 metres.
This is a site that needs quite a few dives to properly explore, even using a scooter. Unfortunately, currently there are no charter boats that dive this location as far as I know.