South West Rocks

A unique ecosystem including a swim-through tunnel and large numbers of sharks

South West Rocks
The South West Rocks on the coast of New South Wales represents the most extensive true ocean cave dive site in the southern hemisphere. Fish Rock Cave is a tunnel or swim-through running 125 meters (410 feet) in a roughly east-west direction right through Fish Rock.

Fish Rock is exceptional as it has a completely unique ecosystem with slightly warmer and always clear water. The shallow entrance of Fish Rock Cave lies at the relatively shallow depth of 12 meters (39 feet). There is also a deep entrance at around 24 meters (79 feet). It is at the cave entry where the protected grey nurse sharks can be found, often in quite large numbers. The cave is naturally lit, and can be described as ornate with pink gorgonian fan corals and swarming with life. Inside the cave, there are two ‘bubble’ caves at a depth of around 5 meters (16 feet). The light disappears at around 80 meters (262 feet) into the cave. There are some blind alleys branching from the main cave.

It is quite normal to spot wobbegongs, black rays, cuttlefish, and loggerhead turtles. The sponge gardens around Fish Rock provide home for sea stars, nudibranchs, cuttlefish, banded sea perch and red rock, amongst others.

On the eastern side of Fish Rock steep walls plunge to an average depth of 30 meters (98 feet). Huge boulders are scattered on the sea floor and are home to large wobbegong sharks. On the northern side of Fish Rock a pinnacle rises 30 meters from the sea floor to within 7 meters of the surface. Turtles, grey nurse sharks, giant Queensland groupers can be spotted, amongst many others.

Depth m/ft

9-30/29-98

Visibility m/ft

15-30/49-98

Temperature C/F

20-25/68-77

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Grey Nurse Sharks at Fish Rock Cave (photo by Andrew Sheehan)
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Cuttlefish at Rock Cave (photo by Richard Barnett)
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Wobbegong shark at South West Rocks (photo by John McCabe)
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