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Diving   Print 

Diving in Portland

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Professional Diving Services

14 Townsend St, Portland

Victoria 3305

PH 03 55 236392 FAX 03 55 217255


The temperate waters of the Southern Ocean provide a unique and varied diving experience in conditions of low tidal movement and generally weak currents.  Shore diving is available but the best sites are reached by boat.  Dive Charter boats operate out of Portland Harbour. 


We are located 75 kilometres East of the South Australian border Professional Diving Services caters for all needs of the diver.  Air fills, Nitrox fills, equipment service, sales and hire.  We instruct diving to all levels. We have an operational recompression chamber at the shop.


In the Portland area we have some great shore and boat dive sites, Lawrence Rocks, the Lee Breakwater, Portland Bay, the three Capes [Grant, Nelson, and Bridgewater], North Shore Reefs, and the ?Emily S? a 30 metre fishing trawler sunk in 24m of water near Lawrence Rocks, a dive club project in September 1991.  Not far there is an alternative to sea diving, Ewens Ponds and Picaninnie Ponds both fresh water dives with fantastic visibility. 


We strongly recommend that divers not familiar with diving in this area please check with the locals about currents, tides and regulations.  This will ensure that you have both an enjoyable and safe diving experience whilst you are here.



Site 1.             The Lee Breakwater [shore dive]

A unique diving experience as you kit-up from the boot of your car and scramble down the rocks to the water 14 metres of salt-water 14 metres from your car!  A great dive for beginners, as it is almost impossible to become disorientated.  All species of fish life are present including sweep, conger eels, sea dragons, abalone, crayfish, wobbegongs, sharks, stingrays and the occasional seal.  Of a night time penguins can often be seen on the breakwater.  A fantastic night dive!  Line fishing from the breakwater is very popular so be wary of monofilament, either broken-off or still active.  Great place to ?shop? for snagged swivels, lures, sinkers, etc.


Depth:             1 ? 14 metres

Travel Time:    2 minutes

From Professional Diving Services

Qualification:   Open Water

Location: Alongside Nunn?s beach

GPS: Not applicable

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Site 2.             North Shore [boat or shore dive]

A scenic dive in shallow water over a limestone bottom.  Plenty of fish life and the possibility of finding sharks teeth, up to 80mm in length have been found.


Depth:                         1 ? 5 metres.

Travel time:                 2 minutes for the beach entry or 5 minutes by boat.


Qualification:               Open water.


GPS Coordinates:       Not applicable



Site 3.             Portland Bay Reef  (boat dive)


This reef rises from 15 to 10.5 metres and is roughly circular in shape.  Sea Dragons and crayfish can be seen as well as a variety of fish. A very nice area for photography. Site is just outside the harbour entrance so check on shipping movements before anchoring here.


Depth:                         10.5 to 15 metres.

Travel time:                 5 minutes.

Location:                     Off the end of the ?corkscrew?

Qualification:               Open water.



                                                                                                                        Photo taken by G.Bourman


Site 4.             Minerva Reef [shore or boat dive]

There is a good chance of finding some fossilised sharks teeth; this is a shallow dive with a variety of marine life. A good beginners dive.


Depth:                         3 ? 5 metres over about seven different levels.

Travel time:                 Boat: about 5 minutes.


Qualification:               Open water.


GPS Coordinates:       TBA


Site 5:             Lighthouse Reef [shore or boat dive]

This is a sheltered reef of about 1.5 square nautical miles.  There is an immense diversity of marine life - common sea dragons, abalone, crayfish, cat sharks, cuttlefish and more. On a good day the visibility can be up to 20 metres with white sand on the bottom makes it a spectacular dive if the sun is out.

Home of the ?New Zealander? wreck.


Depth:                         3 ? 4 metres.

Travel time:                 2 minutes form PDS to car park 10minute walk to site

3 minutes by boat.

Location:                     Park at Nunn?s beach car park,

Beach entry off Nunn?s beach under the Lighthouse, where to rocks meet the water

Qualification:               Open Water.

GPS Coordinates:       Not applicable                                                                                                                                                                        


Site 6.             The New Zealander [boat or shore dive]

The New Zealander was a 30metre coal ship, which was allegedly set alight by crewmembers on December 16th 1853 after sailing to Portland from Liverpool. The burning ship was towed to the Northern Bluff so that it would not endanger other vessels before it sank just below the Portland Lighthouse. Depending on the movement of sand, ribs, timbers, bronze, iron pins and ballast stones can be exposed at the wreck site. Maximum depth is only a few metres so snorkelling is a good option to carrying dive gear along Nuns Beach [and back].


Depth:             1 ? 4 metres.

Travel time:     1 minute from shore.

Location:         Referto ?Lighthouse Reef?                  site 3.

Qualification:   Snorkel, Open Water.

GPS Coordinates:       TBA



Site 7.             Saxon Reef [boat dive]

This is a natural reef with the remains of the fishing vessel ?Saxon? scuttled as an artificial reef.  The surrounding reef has interesting swim-throughs and overhangs with good variety of marine growth and fish life. Watch out for residential wobbegong shark; don?t worry as they wont hurt you as long as you leave them alone.


Depth:                         9 metres.

Travel time:                 5 minutes.

Location:                     North Shore, in Portland Bay

Qualification:               Open water.


GPS Coordinates:       E 141*  37.422  S 38* 18.892 




Site 8.             Pivot Beach ? Crumpet Beach [shore dives]

These sites are to the south east of Portland and accessed by car.  Pivot beach requires a 4wd if driving on the sand.  Both beaches have left and right hand reefs at each end of the beach.  Many divers find the odd crayfish and abalone. There is a lot of kelp washed up towards the shore but if fighting your way through it the dive can be very enjoyable. There is a variety of growth and fish life.


Depth:                         1 ? 8 metres.

Travel time:                 10 minutes by car.

Location:                     Behind Pivot, off Madiera

Qualification:               Open water.


GPS Coordinates:       Not applicable


Site 9.             The ?Emily S? wreck (boat dive)

About 350 metres off the rock on the sheltered side lies the ?Emily S? beautifully upright on her keel in 24 metres between two rocky reefs. She was towed and scuttled on the 1st September 1991 by the PDS dive club. The ?Emily S? is an old fishing trawler 30 metres in length displacing 240 tonnes.

This is a great dive from the novice to cave or wreck for penetration.


Depth:                         24metres

Travel Time:                30minutes

Location:                     North of Lawrence Rocks

Qualifications:             Open Water, cave /                                        wreck for penetration.


GPS Coordinates:       E141*40.324 S38* 24.164

                                    (as of 29/2/04)



Site 10.                       Lawrence Rocks or ?Gardens Delights? [boat dive]

Arguably ?the best? diving site in the Portland area with magnificent diving around two joined large rock masses with superb kelp forests and prolific marine life.  The northern side rises from about 24 metres with terraces providing shelter for abalone and crayfish.  Expect to see seals in this area.  The south - west side is shaped like an amphitheatre with a depth of 30 metres and a base area equivalent to three basketball courts.  Marine life is excellent with a good variety of pelagic species.  There is a small surge but, as with all Portland dive sites, there is no tidal flow or currents.  A Gannet colony occupies the land area of the rock. 

While in the area, dive on the Emily S.  Watch for cray-pot lines when in this area.


Depth:                         30 metres.

Travel time:                 30 minutes by boat

Qualification:               Open water/Advanced.



GPS Coordinates:       If you need these, perhaps you should seek another sport?             



Site 11.                       The Nursery [boat dive]                                             Photo taken by: D. Gabriel

Heading northeast from the harbour entrance, boat anchors in about 5 metres of water; boulders to the east are full of caves and crevices hiding a wealth of plant life and fish.  There are four large caves at 14 metres, one of which has a slot in the roof leading to a small chamber above known as The Cockpit.  This is where the fun begins!  The Cockpit holds four divers at a time


Depth:                         24 metres.

Travel time:                 25 minutes.

Location:                     Lawrence Rocks

Qualification:               Open water, Advanced, Cave or Wreck for penetration.


GPS Coordinates:       E 141*40.260 S 38* 24.280  




Site 12.           Cape Nelson [shore or boat dive]

This area has over thirty individual dive sites with depths ranging from 6 ? 36 metres.  All have different and special features with good plant and animal life.  The terrain is varied with swim-throughs, sandy areas and kelp forests.  The remains of two unidentified wrecks under the lighthouse are currently being researched. 

Diving in this area is more enjoyable from a boat as you can dive along the bottom of the spectacular limestone cliffs, dropping into a depth that best suits your diving capabilities.

On a good day the visibility can be up to 30metres with pure white sand on the edge of the kelp beds makes it a magnificent dive.

Shore dives involve very strenuous rope and ladder work and would be considered fraught with danger for the uninitiated.



Depth:                         varies considerably depending on specific site.

Travel time:                 30 minutes by boat.

Location:                     Cape Nelson Rd

Qualification:               Open water/Advanced


GPS Coordinates:       TBA


Site 13.           Cape Bridgewater [boat dive]


Dive with the seals!  Hundreds of seals occupy this cape and quickly join any divers in their area.  Can be a bit disconcerting when a seal muscles-in on your cray-chasing efforts.  The area near the tip of the cape is much the same as for Cape Nelson [with added seals].  Excellent diving is also found along the cape on the beach side of the seal cave.  If diving to the west of Cape Bridgewater check where the Marine Park starts; if in doubt don?t take fish etc.

Great Whites are probably in the area; particularly during the seal-breeding season.  Seals are their preferred tucker! 

It is recommended not to dive with the seals from October through to January

Boats can be launched off the beach.  The ramp is near the Life Saving Club.

Shore diving is not practical due to the very long surface swims involved.


                                                                                                                         Photos taken by N.Emery


Depth:                         5- 20 metres.

Travel time:                 25 minutes by car plus

 5 ? 10 minutes in a boat.

Location:                     Bridgewater

Qualification:               Open water


GPS Coordinates:       TBA


Site14.                        Ewens Ponds [shore dive]

Situated 90 kilometres west of Portland and 15 kilometres south of Mount Gambier, Ewens Ponds are a series of three pond that have freshwater springs which flow out of the ground through ?sand boils? at the bottom of each pond. Entry to the first pond is a jump or climb down the ladder and the flow of the creek is strong enough to carry divers down to the two other ponds. There is a ladder in the third pond to help divers exit the water. The walk back from pond three to the car park can be tiring [bushwalking in full diving gear!] but the effort is worth it. There are eels and saltwater fish but the most interesting are the freshwater crayfish better known as ?prickly backs? Fantastic night dive being able to look at the stars from 9m.  Excellent visibility.


Depth:                         9 ? 13 metres

Travel Time:               

Location:                     Port MacDonnell

Qualification:               Open Water   


GPS Co-ordinates:     Not applicable


Site 15.           Piccanninie Pond [shore dive]

Probably the best fresh water dive in Australia as far as accessibility and spectacle are concerned.

The crystal clear waters have been slowly filtering through the limestone and forming the ponds features over thousands of years. The freshwater rising to the surface under pressure has eroded a weakness in the limestone to form the chasm. With its white walls covered in delicate green algal growth contrasting with the dark depths below. Situated only 6kms out of Nelson ?Piccs? is spectacular and very deep.  This site is a dive or snorkel depending on your qualification. You must be certified to dive this site.

Casualties have occurred in this Pond and permission to dive is required.

Divers need to be sinkhole certified and a current member of the Cave Divers Association of Australia [CDAA] before a permit may be issued. 

The sign at 36 metres reads ?deaths have occurred past this point?. 


Permits are available from:     Department for Environment and Heritage

                                                11 Helen St

                                                Po Box 1046

                                                Mt Gambier SA 5290

                                                PH. (08) 87351177    FAX. (08) 87351110


Depth:             60 metres plus

Travel time:     50 minutes.

Location:         Nelson

Qualification:   Sinkhole Diver.

                        CDAA Member


GPS Coordinates: Not applicable



Photo taken by F.Zeigler




Rock Lobster (Victorian Waters)

Minimum legal size:    Male 11cm carapace length 

Female 10.5 carapace length

Possession Limit:       4

Boat Limit:                   4

Closed Seasons:        Male ? 1st September to midnight 15th November

                                    Female ? 1st June to midnight 15th November


For marking of rock lobster and how to measure refer to the current

 Victorian Recreation Fishing Guide


Rock Lobster (South Australian Waters)

Minimum legal size:    in the southern zone is 9.85cm

Bag Limit:                    A maximum of 4 rock lobster per person per day may be taken regardless of how they were legally taken.

Boat Limit:                   When fishing from a boat a maximum of 8 rock lobster per day may be taken.

Closed Seasons:        The taking of rock lobster in the Southern Zone is prohibited between 6:00pm 30th April and 6:00am 1st October.   


For marking of SA rock lobster and how to measure refer to the current

South Australian Fishing Guide


Abalone Greenlip

Minimum legal size:                13cm

Bag / Possession Limit:          2

Closed Season:                      1st October to 31st March


Abalone Blacklip    

Minimum legal size:                12cm

Bag / Possession Limit:          10 (including a maximum of 2 greenlip abalone)


For measuring of all abalone species refer to the current

Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide




Handy Telephone Numbers


Professional Diving Services:                                                 03 55236392

Boat Charter: Kevin & Monica Treloar                                    0418 306714 or 55 233202

Portland Police:                                                                       03 55231999 [or 000]

RACV Portland:                                                                       55 218069 or 131111

Boat repairer: Portland Mechanical & Electrical                     55 235562

Seals By The Sea Tours ? Joe & Casie Austin                      55 267247


The following list of local dive sites is provided by local divers and frequently reviewed to ensure the accuracy of the information. 


Your use of common sense and sound watermanship will ensure that you enjoy your diving.

This document was compiled by Narelle Emery and Graeme Bourman