Bellarine Peninsula (Port Phillip) Shore Dives

Spearfishing is illegal within 30m of any jetty and in Marine National Parks. Spearfishing laws

Starting in Geelong and working clockwise around the peninsula. Google Map

Cunningham Pier - Geelong
S 38 08.555 E 144 21.704
Protected from S and W wind. Depth 3 - 10m
This historical pier is one of the dominating features of Geelong's foreshore. Looks like it should be an interesting dive however it features mostly introduced marine pests and stinking anerobic mud. Depth 3m under the pier dropping down to dredged 10m on each side. The pylons have silt covered sponges, ascidians and sea cucumbers struggling to survive against the Northern Pacific stars and sabellid fanworms.

Rating - 1/5. Yuk. Do it once and tick it off.

Swimming enclosure - Geelong
S 38 08.796 E 144 22.351
Protected from S and W wind. Depth 2 - 5m
This is the picturesque semi circular walkway on Eastern Beach with diving boards and tower. Shark cage bars line the outer edge supporting heaps of sponges ascidians and the occasional seahorse. Big flathead, schools of salmon, whiting, oldwives, moonlighters, globefish,stingarees and fiddler rays can be seen. This is a surprisingly interesting dive despite the silty bottom and would be a good night dive. Best to park up the hill above eastern beach. Be prepared for the amazed stares of kids and picnickers as you waddle to the entry point inside the semicircle. Best done at high tide for extra depth under the walkway. One difficulty with this site is that you are always looking into the sun at the vertical cage bars. May be better for photography in overcast conditions.

Rating - 2/5. Worth a look but only when nothing else is divable.

Old Clifton Springs Pier
S 38 E 144
Protected from S wind. Depth 1 - 2m
Flickr photos
Only the piles remain of this pier at the Clifton Springs boat launching ramp at the end of Jetty Road.
Maximium depth is about 2m at high tide so this is a great snorkel spot also.
Seahorses, nudibranchs, stingarees and pipefish can be found at this very sheltered, shallow sandy site.

Rating - 2.5/5. Nice but very shallow

Portarlington Pier
S 38 06.774 E 144 39.121
Protected from S wind. Depth 2 - 5m
Somewhat degraded and silty under the pier due to dumping of shells by the mussel boats. Viz can be zero during mussel cleaning times but OK at other times. The site is better around the outer wall with max depth 4m however there are always heaps of fishos casting at you. This is the only place I have been hooked. Seahorses, nudibranchs, old wives, schools of juvenile salmon and whiting are common. Have seen octopus and angel sharks at night. Very close parking and easy access. Best done at high tide for extra depth under the pier.

Rating - 2/5 Yuk under the pier. Better out around the rocks but watch for fishing lines. Only if you're desperate.

Steeles Rocks - Portarlington
S 38 06.735 E 144 39.879
Protected from S wind. Depth 1 - 5m
Flickr photos
About 1km east of the pier there is a small dirt carpark and concrete boat ramp. The toilet block is decorated with aboriginal style dot painting. 50m off shore you can see 2 rocks sticking out of the water which are surrounded by small drop offs and scattered boulders. 200m further east are more rocky reefs also. This is a much cleaner and brighter dive than the pier and I have seen stingarees, squid, cuttles, zebra fish, wrasse, morwong, globe fish, toadies, whiting and nudibranchs here. I imagine boat traffic could be a problem so a dive flag may be good insurance. The closest possible parking. 5 paces from car to water.

Rating - 3/5 Worth a look if St Leonards is too dirty. Much better than Portarlington Pier.

Ozone Paddle Steamer - Indented Heads
S 38 08.397 E 144 42.755
Protected from W wind. Depth 2 - 4m
Flickr photos
This half submerged wreck (does it count as a wreck dive?) is visible from the road as you drive past the foreshore camping reserve. Park inside the reserve during non holiday times or 50m north on the grass near the anchor monument. Beware, my hubcaps went missing from here one busy day in summer. Swim out over shallow sand for 50m to the wreck and explore the boilers, underwater half of the paddle wheel and heaps more. This site is shallow but very interesting with many stingarees, globefish, flathead, velvetfish and salmon. This is a good spot to find stargazers also. Best done at high tide for extra depth. Another wreck, The Dominion, extends for about 20m northward from the Ozone. This is a great spot for the family with a sheltered beach and easy snorkelling for the kids and milkbar nearby. Very close parking and easy access.

Rating - 3/5. Interesting but shallow. Wreck structure is fascinating. Stingaree city.

St Leonards Pier
S 38 10.222 E 144 43.189
Protected from W and S wind. 3 - 4m
Flickr photos | video
This is the best pier dive on the Bellarine Peninsula. Heaps of colour and growth on the piles. Seahorses, nudibranchs, old wives, globefish, wrasse leatherjackets, rays, stargazers, squid jigs, golfballs, chairs, knives, fishing rods and seastars can be seen during the day and cardinal fish, dumpling squid, cuttles, octopus at night. There is also a very large conger eel living in the same spot. I love this dive, day or night, especially with a camera. I tend to stay under the first little side arm halfway out but there are little rocky reefs further out and a long breakwater at the end.
Another good family spot with clean beach, close shops, pub and toilets. Very close parking and easy access.

Rating - 5/5. Best pier dive over this side. Macro photographer's haven.

Queenscliff Pier
S 38 16.038 E 144 40.027
Protected from W wind. Depth 2 - 4m
A popular dive training spot which must have been a better dive in the past. Whenever I dived here there was little growth on the pylons and just sand on the bottom. Schools of fish sweep through occasionally. Can be current affected due to proximity to the heads. It's a bit of a long trudge over deep soft sand to the entry point which is getting longer yearly as more of Portsea and Sorrento is deposited over this side. Not my favourite spot although dive boats, fills and pubs are close by.

Rating - 2/5. Has nothing on St Leonards. Sand bottom and not much pylon life.

Shortland Bluff
S 38 16. E 144 40.
Protected from N and W wind. Depth 5 - 12m
Flickr photos
This site is very current prone so must be done right on slack water.
We parked in the Rip View car park and walked down the steps and left along the beach to the left (north east) edge of the rock platform. Swim out to the red channel marker and then turn south. About 30m out you will find a drop off from 7m down to 12m which you can follow around to the west until the current changes. Current was ebbing at the start of our dive then turned to the flood half way through. We then had a quick drift back to our entry point.

Rating - 4/5. Could be excellent in the right conditions

Cottage by the sea - Queenscliff
S 38 16.309 E 144 39.012
Protected from N and W wind. Depth 6 - 8m
Flickr photos | narrated video
This is a ripper of a shore dive. Spectacular position off a beautiful beach looking straight out at the heads. Located a few k's before Queenscliff back towards the Point Lonsdale turn off, immediately below the Cottage-by-the-Sea Children's holiday camp. From the car park it's a short walk to the steps then across the sand to a rocky platform visible at low tide. Enter to the right of the rocks or through a narrow channel that splits the platform. Head out slightly West of due South, bearing of 190deg, over sand to the reef in 6 to 8m. The reef wall is about 50m out with the best part out to the West until it breaks up 100m further along. The site consisting of a 2 to 4 m wall facing shore with deep undercuts and swimthroughs. Being close to the heads it is swell and current prone and best done after a few days of northerlies. The current always seems to run from West to East along the reef. The flow is mild on the ebb tide at the heads but becomes undivable during the flood so stick to diving here during the ebb. Low tide at the heads is a good time to hit Cottage, which strangely occurs in the middle of the ebb. Big rays, cuttles, seadragons, morwong, wrasse, oldwives, blue devils, bullseyes, beardies and leatherjackets are common but I have seen seals and draughtboard sharks here.
This is an excellent family beach with great shore snorkelling and beach combing. Toilets and showers available near the Rip Tide holiday flats, an alternative car park and entry point.

Rating - 4.5/5. Best shore dive over this side but don't bother in swell and flood current.

The Springs - Pt Lonsdale
S 38 16.565 E 144 37.212
Protected from N and W wind. Depth 2 - 5m
aerial photo | flickr photos | narrated video
Located at the end of Laurence Street, between the footy oval and BP service station about 1 k before Pt Lonsdale.
Even closer to the heads this shallow site has to be flat and clear to be worthwhile however cuttles, seadragons, collared catsharks and big rays can often be found here. Squadrons of squid sometimes patrol the shallow seagrass areas keeping just far enough away to prevent good photos. In Feb 2006 a 1.8m wobbegong sat under the same ledge for a few days. The reef is actually a few big bombies scattered around this weedy and sandy area. They are easy to miss in less than perfect conditions. One thing in it's favour is the ease of entry being about 20 paces from your car to the water. From the ramp snorkel out on a bearing of 120 deg until the Pt Lonsdale lighthouse is at 190deg, about 60m. The ledges in about 2m are to your left. From here head out on 160deg for another 100m to the outer facing ledges. Return to shore on about 320deg. Best done at high tide for extra depth.

Rating - 3/5. Good fallback if tides are not right for Cottage but shallow and undivable in any waves. Current can be annoying. Good test of navigation skills.

Other sites to be added, when I have checked them out and have photos to show, are:
Point Lonsdale Reef
Collendina Reef
Barwon Heads Bluff - actually have dived here but no photos yet. Must try again.