Ex-HMAS Tobruk | Why you need to dive this shipwreck in Queensland

Why you need to dive this underwater shipwreck in Queensland

127 metres of nooks, crannies and naval history have been sunk off the coast of Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, creating Queensland’s next (in a long line of) must-dive ship wrecks – the ex-HMAS Tobruk. 

Pack your sense of adventure and prepare to explore the inner sections of a mammoth former Royal Australian Navy ship and spot some of the enchanting marine life that surrounds Queensland’s newest dive site.

What is the Ex-HMAS Tobruk?

Ex-HMAS Tobruk | Why you need to dive this shipwreck in Queensland

The Ex-HMAS Tobruk is one of the world’s newest wreck diving sites and was officially opened for underwater exploration in late February 2019.

For those who haven’t tried it, wreck diving is a slightly more technical dive (you’ll want to nail your buoyancy for all the doorways). It offers the amazing marine life you expect, coupled with interesting and at times quirky structures (passing a toilet with coral growing off it will always make you smile).

Decommissioned in 2015 after 34 years of service, the ex-HMAS Tobruk was sunk in mid-2018 approximately 17 nautical miles (32 kilometres) off the coast, halfway between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg in the Great Sandy Marine Park.

The shallowest part of the wreck lies in 10.9 metres of water, easily accessed by certified open water divers. More advanced divers will be able to explore the entire wreck, which rests at a depth of 30 metres.

The waters of the Great Sandy Marine Park are warm year-round and protected from rough weather by the nearby Fraser Island.

What makes it unique?

ex-HMAS Tobruk | Why you need to dive this shipwreck in Queensland

The ex-HMAS Tobruk is seriously huge (127 metres in length), meaning it occupies a colossal position on the ocean floor.

Certified wreck divers can swim over 100 metres in one direction inside the ship – no tumble turns required. All areas of the ship, including the troop areas, crew quarters, the tank deck and other sections are waiting to be explored. BYO flashlight to check out all the finer details inside the ship.

If going inside the ship makes you feel claustrophobic, don’t stress. There’s more than enough to see outside the wreck (like some of the friendly locals).

What will I see?

A huge variety of marine life – including manta rays, groupers, cod and Spanish mackerel – call Tobruk home, so make sure you have your waterproof camera at the ready for your dive.

As breeding turtles have a soft spot for the waters around the Fraser Coast and Bundaberg, our flippered friends are expected to be regulars in and around the wreck.

Divers can also expect to see and hear migrating humpback whales as they traverse through the area from May to November.

How can I dive it?

ex-HMAS Tobruk | Why you need to dive this shipwreck in Queensland

Both Bundaberg and Hervey Bay are an easy three to four-hour drive north of Brisbane. Both towns also have airports if you’re looking for a speedier trip or are coming from interstate.

You can book a dive on ex-HMAS Tobruk through one of the four experienced dive operators who hold permits to access the site who each offer a standard package of two dives over a total trip time of five to six hours.

Hervey Bay departures:

Bundaberg departures:

Alternatively, experienced divers with their own boat and equipment can access the site by booking a two-hour time slot via the Bundaberg or Fraser Coast websites.

Where else can I dive in Queensland?

Manta Bommie off North Stradbroke Island

If ex-HMAS Tobruk has whetted your appetite for more stunning Queensland dives, then you’re in luck. The coastline is dotted with many more magical sites.

There’s 13 other wreck dives in Queensland or a guide to diving the grand-daddy of wreck dives in Australia: the SS Yongala.

Even better, journey along the coastline for five days (six if you do the ex-HMAS Tobruk as well) hitting up a variety of stunning dives.

The ultimate in diving is undoubtedly liveaboard diving, where you can stay on a boat for multiple days and reach remote and amazing sites, like the northern Great Barrier Reef.

If you’re just starting out in the world of regulators and BCDs, there are numerous places where you can learn to dive in Queensland, including on the magnificent Great Barrier Reef.