Almost all the dive sites at Bicheno are located off the small series of rocks that protect the harbour and boat ramp. One of the sites is called The Steps. This is located to the east of the rocks.
To get there, you travel out to the north-west from the boat ramp and around the northern side of the rocks to GPS Reading S41° 52' 27.3" E148° 19' 00.3". This is using WGS84 as a datum. If you do not know what this means, read my GPS Page.
|Governor Island and the boat harbour|
The Steps is just to left of two smaller rocks at right
At this site there is a bommie that tops out at six metres and drops to about 32 metres on sand. Unfortunately, on the day I dived here, the visibility was less than great as for the couple of days before there had been extremely high winds which created a southerly swell that was still hanging around. As such, I cannot accurately report on a lot of the dive site.
We did this as a live drop and pickup, meaning that we did not anchor. We dropped to the top of the reef and then headed down with the dive shop owner, Bruce, leading the way.
Anyway, apparently the reef drops down in a series of steps (hence the name) from the shallows to the sand. There was a chimney that we swam down and out one the way to the sand, but to be honest, I did not even know this at the time as the visibility was less than two metres at this spot!
|Kelly at The Steps - poor visibility||One of the huge crayfish we saw here|
In the spots where the visibility was better (five metres at the most), the site appeared to be brilliant. The reef has a lot of kelp, but there are sponges and some small gorgonias. On these Kelly found some yellow sea spiders. There were also a lot of nice starfish and quite a few long-snouted boarfish (smaller than the ones we see in Sydney). We also saw a couple of huge crayfish (this is a protected area - so no taking is permitted).
As this is a pretty deep dive site, we had to circle our way up before we headed to the reef top to do our safety stop (actually, we went into a minute or two decompression). While doing this, we had millions of small jellyfish with medium length tentacles. I got stung a few times, as did Kelly, but they were very minor and the irritation was gone within 10 minutes of surfacing.
An excellent dive site, ruined by the very poor visibility. This is rare, as Bicheno has a reputation for great visibility. Water temperature in February 2008 was 17.2ÂșC, warmer than Sydney when we left a few weeks earlier. The seas were smooth but there was a long rolling swell that we could feel even at 30 metres.
I thoroughly recommend the services of the Bicheno Dive Centre. Click here for more information on Bicheno and the dive shop.