Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site
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St George Scuba Club
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Kelly Talking on ABC Sydney about Shipwrecks
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Dive Related Equipment
Shearwater Predator and Heinrichs Weikamp OSTC 2N
Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers
Apollo AV1 Underwater Scooter
Bauer Compressor
DIY Oxygen Stick - Nitrox
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My Camera Setup
Purchase of New Dive Boat
My Dive Boat - Mak Cat
My Old Dive Boat - Le Scat
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Make Your Own Car Tank Rack

Marine Life
Rarer Sydney Marine Life
Bare Island Pygmy Pipe Horses
Bare Island Sea Horses
Bare Island Nudibranchs
Bare Island Marine Life
Encounter with Southern Right Whale and Calf

Other Dive Info
How Weather Affects Diving in Sydney
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Noel Hitchins 1951-2005
Lloyd Bridges - Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt
My Yachting Adventures
Below is a list of links to the main pages about my yacht, Catlypso and My Yachting Adventures:
  • Purchase of Catlypso
  • Details about Catlypso
  • Cleaning/Repairing Catlypso
  • My Yachting Adventures.
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    Michael's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of my Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
    Home Brewing
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    Sydney Dive Site Hints
    "The Wall (The Apartments) is a dive site that has spectacular fishlife"
    The Colours - South Head
    Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - The Colours The coastline of the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney has some fantastic dive sites. The whole section of coast from the South Head of Sydney Harbour to Cape Banks, the northern headland of Botany Bay, has literally hundreds of places you can dive. While the sites that can be dived from shore are somewhat limited, the sites that can be dived from a boat are almost limitless.

    Diving out of Sydney Harbour is also fantastic. There are dozens of sites north and south of the harbour that are easily accessible to boat owners. The majority of them are fairly close to the Harbour and within a short run from the boat ramps. One of these sites is The Colours. This is located just south of South Head. Once you leave Sydney Harbour, turn right and head out at about 45°. When you are off the Macquarie Lighthouse (this is the older of the two lighthouses and the first one south of The Gap), you are near the dive site. Head straight out from the lighthouse.

    South West MarkWest Mark
    South-West Mark - Right side of largest block
    is against the side of the smaller block
    Western Mark - The pole holding the radar is on the right of the lighthouse

    Line up the pole containing the radar on the north of the lighthouse with the side of the lighthouse. To the south-west, line right side of the large block of units at Dover Heights with the left side of the smaller block. The GPS mark for the anchoring spot is 33° 50.9947' S 151° 17.6482' E (note that this GPS Readings is in WGS84 which is the normal one used by GPSs - if you use any other datum, you will need to convert the reading - see my GPS Page for more details).

    The ColoursThe Colours
    A sonar of The Colours area, normal dive site is bottom rightAn oblique sonar view of The Colours looking towards the normal side

    This dive site is quite large and consists of a section of the reef where there is a relatively rapid drop from the reef top to the sand bottom. The reef top is about 22 metres and the sand about 30 metres. Depending on where you actually cross the reef edge, the reef drops from 22 metres straight to almost 30 metres or drops in one or two walls to 26 metres and then the bottom at just over 30 metres. In any case, drop anchor somewhere on the top or on one of the intermediate ledges.

    The reef here runs from the northern end in a south-eastern direction before running south and then back to the south-west and then west. I am not sure where the reef goes at the northern and southern ends. It is said to be about 150 metres long.

    As I mentioned before, this dive site consists of a reef top that drops in one or two dramatic walls to the sandy bottom. The sand actually is only small here and there is a bit more reef out further before the sand proper is found. It is a spectacular site, with lots of colour (hence its name) from the sponges, sea squirts and other fixed marine life that cover almost every square inch of the site. There are also some nice gorgonias.
    At the northern end, the reef drops from 22 metres to about 28 metres and then gradually over some small boulders to over 30 metres. At 28 metres there are a number of large holes in the reef bottom, circular and about a metre deep. Out further the reef drops to about 33 or even 35 metres.

    The ColoursColours Wall
    A starfish on the wall - note the
    schooling fish in the background
    Kelly McFadyen and the wall at The Colours

    At the southern end of this wall the wall becomes less distinct and goes from 22 metres to over 30 metres over a longer distance and with a number of smaller drops. Here the reef goes a little to the east and there are some larger boulders on the edge that create some small gullies. It quickly turns back towards the south-west and the wall becomes more prominent, dropping from 22 metres to about 26 metres. There are still some smaller boulders on the edge.

    Again, after a short distance the wall becomes less prominent and only a metre or so off the bottom (the top of the reef has dropped here from 22 to 25 metres).

    As mentioned, the colour comes from the sponges, sea squirts, ascidians, gorgonias and other fixed marine life. The fishlife on my dives here have ranged from not overly prolific to mind-blowing. In the the one that had little fish, there were lots of seapike, silver sweep, some small bream, a few black reef leatherjackets and a couple of large mosaic leatherjackets. As well, there were some yellowtail, mado and a few one-spot pullers. On the mind-blowing dive, there were thousands of silver sweep and one-spot pullers all over the reef, darkening the bottom when they went over head. This dive also had large schools of large seapike.

    The ColoursColours Wall
    A number of very large schools of fishCarol Mapstone on the lower reef at The Colours

    A very colourful site, with spectacular scenery. Due to the depth, you can only spend about 17 to 20 (or 22 minutes if you spend more time on the top of the reef) at this site before running into decompression. Due to the depth, I would only recommend that relatively experienced divers should visit this site.

    Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2024
    Non-commercial use of an article or photograph is permitted with appropriate URL reference to this site.
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    This web site has been wholly thought up, designed, constructed and funded for almost 30 years by Michael McFadyen without any help from the Australian Dive Industry.
    Website created 1996!