1 Feb, 2018 Back to blog

Why a South West Rocks Weekend should be on every divers bucket list. By Kevin Deacon


Grey Nurse Sharks cruise along the walls of Fish Rock but many other species of big pelagic creatures can turn up here too

Cherie and I crouch low on the rock strewn floor of Fish Rock Cave, beyond the shallow cave mouth blue ocean is visible as are the sunbeams that dance like a curtain of light through which grey nurse sharks patrol. Thousands of small fish school across the entrance and part in a synchronised ballet as the graceful sharks cruise back and forth into the cave.

I am concentrating through my camera's viewfinder waiting for that special moment when the composition is perfect. When that happens I will have only a split second to pull the trigger before that opportunity passes.

I can’t predict this image, but I will know it when I see it, if I see it!

Suddenly the pictures there, my dual strobes light up the sharks and the image is frozen in my mind. I just have to hope it looks as good on the computer later when I am enjoying a cold beer and reliving this magical experience.

On most dives around Fish Rock it is common to encounter Grey Nurse Sharks. Fish Rock is known as the area to encounter the greatest congregation of Grey Nurse Sharks in Australia.

Grey Nurse Sharks patrol the large shallow entrance of Fish Rock Cave.  At just 14 meters depth one can spend a whole dive enjoying the spectacular marine life from just inside the cave entrance

There is nowhere else in the world where a scene like this exists and pictures like this can be created!

Imagine a tall oceanic pinnacle jutting out of the Tasman Sea just a short boat ride from the beautiful pristine bush and beach of Southwest Rocks near Kempsey, NSW.

That pinnacle is named Fish Rock.

Only seabirds call this home but the blue water surface conceals an incredible variety of temperate and tropical marine life species.

South West Rocks on the NSW North Coast is a small relaxed holiday town perched on the shores of pristine bush and beach environments.  Just offshore is Fish Rock, a marine park and one of the most spectacular dive sites in Australia. The spectacular beach and bush coastline is just one small part of the pristine environment that is part of South West Rocks township

This marine wonderland is so unique and so diverse it has been proclaimed a marine park so it remains intact for all who dive to enjoy.

As if that is not enough, a large cave tunnel runs right through Fish Rock, its walls are decorated in sponges and algae in colours that would rival a Picasso painting.

All manner of sea life inhabit the cave and a swim through will reveal crayfish, morays, cod, fish schools, wobbegong sharks, giant stingrays and at the shallow cave mouth, grey nurse sharks often patrol.

Diving through Fish Rock Cave will often reveal large cod, just one part of the entourage that you will meet.

Spotted Wobbegongs can be found all around Fish Rock Cave

Dive sites around Fish Rock feature anemones and resident clown fish, more giant black stingrays & both spotted and ornate wobbegongs, turtles, big blue gropers and shark gutters where Grey Nurse patrol and at any time, big pelagic fish can make an appearance.

In fact one must always be prepared to expect the unexpected, even schools of Hammerhead sharks can appear!

The giant Ornate Wobbegong is spectacular but for the most part it is very benign around divers unless one is stupid enough to harass them!

This anemone fish species is only ever seen in Northern NSW & Lord Howe Island. There are only approximately 25 species of anemone fish in the World

Great big Loggerhead Turtles and Green Turtles are occasional inhabitants at Fish Rock

The friendly Blue Groper, actually a giant wrasse with no connection with groupers, is always inquisitive and ready to greet you face to face

The Australian Morwong is a signature fish species found only in Southern Australian waters. They often congregate in rock gutters and amongst big boulders

A giant sea jelly drifts past the entrance of Fish Rock Cave, an ocean wanderer who might have travelled thousands of kilometres on ocean currents and may yet travel thousands more beyond our shores

As important as the marine encounters is the diving infrastructure that gets you there and back safely.

Our preferred operators are Peter & Kevin of South West Rocks Dive Centre. They have a lifetime of experience, a fleet of custom built dive boats designed for your comfort and very capable dive guides that ensure you never get lost on your underwater excursions, especially the swim through that is Fish Rock Cave.

They also provide an affordable dive lodge with all the facilities of accommodation, gear washing & stowage, EANX fills and back up dive equipment in their dive centre if required.

And lets not overlook the après dive opportunities, scenic beach front and riverfront restaurants and bars that make relaxing after diving, a delight.

Dive 2000 participants return from a dive at Fish rock. The look on their faces tells the story, excited, delighted, and eager to return for another dive at Fish Rock

A ceramic plaque commemorates a message from our first Australians, one that has great meaning to those of us who explore our ocean and interact with its inhabitants

South West Rocks, in, out, under or above the water in this beautiful stretch of Australia’s spectacular coastline is an experience every diver should seize at the earliest opportunity.

Book now for our Easter 2018 Trip  We reserved spaces over 12 months ago, to make sure we could offer this popular destination to Dive 2000 divers before they get snapped up!

And if you miss out, oh well, there’s always Easter 2019 !



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