Diving the HMAS Canberra in Melbourne

Diving the HMAS Canberra was a highlight, and recommended as a must do dive when visiting Melbourne. I did this dive with Dive Victoria, and was very impressed with the professional way they ran their operation. The wreck lies in 30 metres of water and can be penetrated by divers with the right experience and qualifications.

Bow of the HMAS Canberra

HMAS Canberra

I decided when booking the dive to get a guide, as I wanted to get the most out of the experience. The guide cost an extra $90 on top of the $80 dive cost, but when I factored in car rental and other trip related expenses, it made sense to pay a bit extra to get shown the best parts of the wreck in the short time I had on it.

After diving a site called The Zoo in the morning, we were dropped off at the Queenscliff store where we topped up our tanks and had a warm shower. As all my money was on the Portsea side I couldn’t buy lunch, but this was not a big deal. On the boat I met my guide, Fred, and discussed what I was hoping to do on this dive.

I told him about my past experience and wreck qualifications and we made a plan to see the best parts of the wreck, which for the most part we followed.

Fish around the HMAS Canberra

Hmas Canberra

We were first off the boat and made our way to the bow of the HMAS Canberra, which was in around 17 metres of water. The HMAS Canberra lays outside Port Phillip Heads, and I had expected vis to be better in the ocean, but it was considerably worse than our previous dive within the bay. The big problem I had though, was with my camera.

Before my first dive I had dropped the kit and broke a strobe arm. While checking the camera back on shore a few drops of water from my wetsuit got into the housing, which on this day caused the inside to fog up severly. Fearing all my photo’s would be useless I switched to video, hoping the blurriness would not be too overt. You can see the not too bad result below:

Diving through the HMAS Canberra

We hit the bottom under the bow in just under 30 metres, then proceeded to one of the regular cut openings. As I had previous wreck experience and was with a guide who knew the wreck well we were qualified to enter and planned to work our way through the entire boat from bow to stern.

Inside the wreck was amazing. There wasn’t much fishlife to talk about, but the visuals caused by light streaming through the external openings that lit up the holds within were everything you would hope from an underwater shipwreck. We made our way upwards through fairly tight openings until we were about two thirds through. Just before we entered this tighter section I started to get into trouble.

Inside the HMAS Canberra

Either the swell had picked up as our dive progressed, or the angle of the wreck made the stern more swell affected, but I found myself getting moved around more than I was comfortable with. I was getting banged into parts of the structure, not with much force, but enough to make me think twice about entering the smaller looking sections towards the front of the HMAS Canberra.
I signalled to Fred who quickly picked up on my discomfort and signalled for us to exit via a nearby elevator shaft, which was a fun way to exit the ship.

I would have liked to explore the entire wreck, but wanted to enjoy the dive and not feel uncomfortable. With my prior training and experience I never felt at risk, but would have exceeded my comfort level by proceeding further, so was happy to exit and spend the rest of the dive exploring the interesting exterior, which at least had more fish life.

I thoroughly enjoyed my dive on and through the HMAS Canberra, which was made better through use of an exclusive guide. If you live in Melbourne and can spend many dives exploring the wreck gradually you probably don’t need a guide, but if like me you are in town for a short time this is the way to go. Ask for Fred, he has a lot of knowledge of the wreck and will look after you very well.

Into the Wreck

Dive Log


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