Geraldton is home to some of the best dive sights along the Western Australian coast. Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced diver, the warm waters off the Geraldton offer an amazing diving experience.
Just off the coastline of Geraldton are easily accessible manmade and natural dive sites, such as the famous Batavia Shipwreck and the South Tomi Shipwreck.
The Abrolhos Islands
Located 70km off the coast of Geraldton are the magnificent Abrolhos Islands that have the most southern coral reefs in the world. Made up of 122 islands, the Abrolhos’ interlocking reefs are home to a dazzling array of coral gardens and marine life such as sea lions, dolphins, stingrays, mantra rays and dugongs.
Water temperature during winter is around 20 – 22C and the visibility is known to be the best on the West Coast of Australia.
Visit the site of the historic Batavia shipwreck which is situated off Beacon Island and dive on the remains of the vessels disastrous fate in 1629. Learn about the gruesome series of events that make up the rich history of the Abrolhos Islands.
Departing from Geraldton are day trips for both snorkelling and scuba diving that you can book onto as well as diving charters that will go out for the night or even longer extended trips.
The South Tomi Shipwreck
The South Tomi was scuttled in September 2004 approximately 2.9 nautical miles off the Geraldton coast.
The sinking of the ship was conducted by international expert Roy Gabriel, from the Canadian Artificial Reef Consulting.
The South Tomi is a 58.7m long, 9.81m wide vessel that was commissioned in 1972 as a CP propeller, single engine vessel and was registered in the Panama Register of Shipping. In March 2001, the Republic of Togo registered South Tomi.
In March, 2001 the ship was spotted fishing illegally in Australian sub-Antarctic waters. Pursued by Australian Fisheries for 14 days and 3300 nautical miles (approximately 6,100 kms), the South Tomi was finally boarded by the Australian Defence force 320 nautical miles (approximately 600km) south of Cape Town, South Africa. It was one of the longest pursuits in Australian maritime history.
The vessel was illegally carrying a catch of the protected Patagonian Toothfish which was sold by the Australian government for $1.4 million as part of the vessel confiscation. The vessel was escorted 8,500 km back to Australia and arrived on 5th May 2002 in Fremantle, Western Australia.
The City of Geraldton seized the opportunity to secure the vessel to use as an artificial reef. The ship was subsequently towed approximately 400 kilometres from Fremantle to Geraldton, the capital city of Western Australia’s Midwest region, in April 2003.
The Dive Site
The dive site is registered with the WA Department of Fisheries as a wreck and is closed to fishing all year round within defined boundaries (commencing at 28°43.968'S and 114°33.392'E, then east to the intersection of 114°33.206'E, then north to the intersection of 28°43.752'S, then east to the intersection of 114°33.392'E, then south to the commencement point).
Water depth at the site is approximately 24.5 metres with the ship’s deck being 13 metres from the surface.
The best time to dive the South Tomi site is between March and May and September and November. The average water temperature is around 21.5 degrees Celsius for the year.
The current charter operator for the South Tomi is Batavia Coast Dive & Watersports in Geraldton. Contact them on (08) 9921 4229 or via email .
Note: $15.00 of the total cost to dive is returned to the Artificial Reef Committee for the preservation of the wreck.
Alternatively, private boaters can get authorisation to dive on the wreck by becoming a member of the Geraldton Community Artificial Reef Committee (GCARC).
To become a member, return Permit To Dive and Private Boat Agreement forms to GCARC. Membership fees are either $80.00 a year, $40.00 a week or $25.00 a day paid. Additionally, a $50.00 fully-refundable deposit on the dive flag, which will need to be displayed whilst diving the South Tomi.
For further information on accessing the wreck, contact Levah Bairstow or Trevor Beaver on (08) 9921 4374 or 0419 905 687.
Permit To Dive
Private Boat Agreement
View Plans of SouthTomi
For more information on the ship’s history and her sinking, email The Geraldton Community Artificial Reef Committee.
There are a number of spectacular Shore Diving spots along the Geraldton coast such as Point Moore which features a wealth of limestone reefs with caves and crevasses and populations of reef and pelagic fish.
Anyone can experience this underwater world for themselves, either snorkelling or diving with a charter or in your own boat. There are boat ramps all along the foreshore of Geraldton that you can launch your boat from and many of the diving charters depart daily from the marina precinct within Geraldton. So come and discover Geraldton and all that this beautiful seaside city has to offer and experience world class diving at its very best.