The ex-HMAS Canberra dive site has proved extremely popular proved very popular with divers, all keen to investigate the first artificial reef created specifically for diving in Victoria.
Lying in 28 metres of water, the wreck allows divers to explore many sections of the ship, including flight decks, the bridge, engine rooms, galley and accommodation quarters. Many of the vessel’s original fixtures and fittings have been preserved.
The second of four FFG-7 Class Guided Missile Frigates built for the Royal Australian Navy by Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation Seattle, Washington, USA, the HMAS Canberra is 138.1 metres long and, when in service, was 39 metres high from the top of the mast to the tip of the keel.
The vessel hull is constructed of steel and the superstructure is aluminium alloy. Parts of the ship, including the gas-turbine engines, rudder, missile launcher, a section of the mast and propeller were removed by the Navy, in preparation for its use as a dive site.
HMAS Canberra was commissioned on 21 March 1981 and de-commissioned on 12 November 2005. She was scuttled on 4 October 2009 and over time will become a haven for marine life, transforming it into a spectacular reef.
The ex-HMAS Canberra dive site is located 3.7km offshore from Ocean Grove, 20 to 25 minutes by boat from Portsea or Queenscliff.
The site has been established specifically for diving and snorkelling and access is restricted to visitors participating in these activities only. Divers wishing to access the site must hold a current and industry recognised entry level qualification (equivalent to Australian Standard AS4005.1) with appropriate experience for the dive being undertaken.
There are four moorings and the site can accommodate approximately 60 divers at any one time. To gain access to the site, divers must either book a dive tour with a licensed tour operator or book a two hour timeslot on the public mooring through Parks Victoria. Bookings for the public mooring can be made at http://www.parkstay.vic.gov.au.