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About Ex-HMAS Brisbane

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Getting there and getting around

Maps

The ex-HMAS Brisbane is a former warship that lies off Mooloolaba, which is about 100km (about 80mins) north of Brisbane by road. The Ex-HMAS Brisbane Regional Park is about 9km (about 20mins) by boat from the mouth of the Mooloolah River. Refer to the Ex-HMAS Brisbane Regional Park map (PDF, 148K) for coordinates.

This regional park is a restricted access area (PDF, 201K). Entry to the park is prohibited without a permit or written approval. This applies to everyone—all vessels, divers and snorkelers. On-the-spot fines can be issued for entering the restricted access area (PDF, 201K) without a permit.

To enter the regional park and dive or snorkel the ex-HMAS Brisbane visitors must either:

All divers must have a recognised scuba diving qualification. A range of dives are available, suitable for open water level certificate divers to advanced wreck divers. See diving for further information.

Check weather forecasts before your dive trip. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Park features

The ex-HMAS Brisbane is a former warship that is now in 28 m of water. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

The ex-HMAS Brisbane is a former warship that is now in 28 m of water. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

Divers surrounded by fish. Photo courtesy of Gillian Davison, Noosa Blue Water Dive.

Divers surrounded by fish. Photo courtesy of Gillian Davison, Noosa Blue Water Dive.

This unique conservation park has been created around the ex-HMAS Brisbane, a former warship that is now in 28m of water off the Sunshine Coast. The decommissioned HMAS Brisbane warship was sunk, using explosive charges, on 31 July 2005. Two minutes and 10 seconds is all it took for the 133m ship to sink to its final resting place. This growing artificial reef and world-class dive site is known as one of Australia's premier wreck dive destinations.

It's status as a conservation park and restricted access area (PDF, 201K) ensures that this site is used and managed to maintain the cultural, historic and aesthetic values of the ship as well as the ship's 'dignity'. Parts of the ship, including the bridge, missile launcher and propeller, were removed by the Navy to be used in interpretive displays at facilities including the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The removal of other items has been minimised to ensure the ship's integrity and value as an appealing dive site is maintained.

The ex-HMAS Brisbane has a number of cultural, historic and ecological values. It has special cultural and historic significance through a rich history of service to Australia in the Vietnam and Gulf wars. It is also now an artificial reef that offers excellent habitats for marine life and exciting opportunities for divers.

Camping and accommodation

The Sunshine Coast offers a wide range of accommodation from camping to cabins, motels, self-contained units and houses. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Diver observing the variety of coral growing on the wreck. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

Diver observing the variety of coral growing on the wreck. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

A diver explores the operations room inside the wreck. Photo courtesy of Gillian Davidson, Noosa Blue Water Dive.

A diver explores the operations room inside the wreck. Photo courtesy of Gillian Davidson, Noosa Blue Water Dive.

The wreck has been kept in virtually original condition to make it visually appealing and interesting for divers to explore. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

The wreck has been kept in virtually original condition to make it visually appealing and interesting for divers to explore. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

Wobbegong shark. Photo courtesy of Blue Water Dive.

Wobbegong shark. Photo courtesy of Blue Water Dive.

Divers are able to explore features of this former warship, such as the front gun. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

Divers are able to explore features of this former warship, such as the front gun. Photo courtesy of and copyright Scuba World, Mooloolaba.

Diving

The ex-HMAS Brisbane is an artificial reef which provides excellent scuba diving, and limited snorkelling, opportunities. Divers with varying levels of experience and certification—from open water level to advanced wreck certified divers—are able to enjoy this site.

All divers must have a recognised scuba diving qualification

The site is not suitable for inexperienced divers without a guide. It is recommended divers have completed a minimum of 10 open water dives before diving this site and wreck penetration should only be attempted by those with suitable equipment, training and experience.

As a guide:

  • outside and upper decks—open water certification
  • outside to bottom level—advanced open water certification
  • upper level penetration—wreck certification and/or suitable open water experience
  • lower level penetration—wreck certification and/or advanced open water experience.

It is important to remember that wreck diving is potentially dangerous. For dive safety and medical advice contact Divers Emergency Service (DES) Australia. See staying safe for more information about ex-HMAS Brisbane diving safety.

Diving permits required

All divers must be certified and must obtain a permit to enter the regional park and dive the wreck, fees apply.

Divers can book a dive tour through either of the licensed dive tour operators on the Sunshine Coast.

QPWS permits for private divers, snorkelers or club divers using the public mooring can be obtained through either of the licensed dive tour operators

See permits and fees and for further information.

ex-HMAS Brisbane features

Where possible, the vessel has been kept in original condition to make it visually appealing and interesting for divers to explore. While the ships bridge has been removed for naval displays, most other items of interest remain. The smoke stack starts at just 3m below the surface and the ship itself is eight stories high and seven cricket pitches long (133m). Access holes allow passage into the forward engine room, boiler room, gun mount and the ship's interior, where divers can view living and sleeping quarters used by the crew during the ship's service.

Access inside the ex-HMAS Brisbane is optimal, with all internal areas offering three points of natural light, with wide, open entry and exit swim-throughs. It is the only purpose-designed dive wreck in Australia where you can actually dive inside the engine and boiler rooms.

Read more about the park’s natural features in “The Brisbane, Wreck to Reef…one year on” and on the park’s Nature, Culture and History page.

Diving yes! Fishing no!

Due to the serious risks posed to divers by hooks and entanglement in discarded fishing line, access permits for general boating and fishing on and around Ex-HMAS Brisbane Regional Park are not issued. On-the-spot fines may be issued to vessels entering the conservation park restricted access area (PDF, 201K) without a permit. Boats should stand off at least 400m from the wreck in any direction to ensure they are clear of the restricted access area (PDF, 201K). Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers regularly undertake compliance patrols of the area.

Snorkelling

With visibility varying from 10–15m in summer and 15–25m in winter, you don’t need a dive qualification to catch a glimpse of the ex-HMAS Brisbane artificial reef that has been created. If you prefer to peer into the depths from the surface then get a permit to snorkel. See permits and fees and for further information.

Guided tours

Two dive tour operators are licensed to offer a variety of dives within the Ex-HMAS Brisbane Regional Park. If you are a certified diver, contact the operators to find out what dive experiences they have on offer.

Viewing wildlife

The Ex-HMAS Brisbane Regional Park offers excellent opportunities for viewing marine life. The ship is covered with hard and soft corals, creating an underwater haven to explore. When diving or snorkelling the wreck you are likely to encounter many types of fish (including bat fish, mackerel, coral trout and small groper), crayfish, sea urchins, anemones, sea stars, sea whips, gorgonians, turtles, stingrays, nudibranchs (including spanish dancers), cowries and bottom-dwelling sharks such as wobbegongs.

See the description of the park’s natural environment for more details about the wrecks diverse marine wildlife.

Nearby attractions

The Sunshine Coast has a wealth of attractions, including golden beaches, rivers and beautiful rainforests. Walking tracks at Noosa National Park, Mount Coolum National Park, Currimundi Lake (Kathleen McArthur) Regional Park and Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park offer many opportunities to explore the natural coastal environment. Coastal camping areas are provided in Bribie Island National Park and Recreation Area and Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park.

Things to know before you go

Divers must be certified and obtain a permit before they can dive the ex-HMAS Brisbane. Photo courtesy of Blue Water Dive.

Divers must be certified and obtain a permit before they can dive the ex-HMAS Brisbane. Photo courtesy of Blue Water Dive.

Essentials to bring

Water temperatures on the Sunshine Coast vary from 18°C in winter to 27°C in summer, so most divers wear two-piece 5mm wetsuits when diving. Diving gear can be booked through licensed dive tour operators.

Opening hours

The Ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park is open to permit holders for snorkelling and diving seven days a week, for both day and night dives.

Permits and fees

A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) permit or written authority is required to enter the park and dive or snorkel the ex-HMAS Brisbane. All divers must have a recognised scuba diving qualification.

On-the-spot fines apply for entering the conservation park restricted access area (PDF, 201K) without a permit and also for failure to comply with permit conditions. For serious breaches, seizure of equipment—including tools, dive gear and boats—may occur.

Permits for private and club dive/snorkel

Two dive tour operators are licensed to issue QPWS permits to private divers, snorkelers or club divers using the public mooring. Permits may be applied for by email, phone or over-the-counter seven days a week (during business hours only).

The following information must be provided when applying for a permit:
  • name, home address, contact number/s and dive licence number of the trip dive leader
  • name, dive licence number and home postcode of each diver
  • name and registration number of the boat and postcode of its registered address
  • total number of divers and non-diving passengers.
Permit conditions:

The dive leader must accept the permit conditions and undertake that all divers on the trip have an appropriate level of training and/or experience to carry out the planned diving activity.

Permit conditions are applied to protect divers and the site:

  • The number of permits offered is limited and the maximum number of divers, and snorkelers, allowed is also limited for safety reasons.
  • Diver numbers are restricted to a maximum of 10 divers per club booking and four divers per private booking.
  • Permits to use the public mooring and dive or snorkel the ex-HMAS Brisbane are allocated in two-hour time slots.
Fees:
  • for private dive groups, $25 per person per two-hour timeslot
  • for club dive groups, $22 per person per two-hour timeslot
  • for private snorkelers, $15 per person per two-hour timeslot.

Dive tour operators

Two dive tour operators are licensed to offer dives within the Ex-HMAS Brisbane Regional Park. If you are a certified diver, contact the operators to find out what dive experiences they have on offer.

Climate and weather

Diving or snorkelling the ex-HMAS Brisbane is great all year round, with visibility varying from 10–15m in summer and 15–25m in winter. Local weather and sea conditions are likely to provide about 200 dive days per year.

South East Queensland is blessed with a temperate climate. Local water temperatures rarely drop below 19°C and vary from 18°C in winter to 27°C in summer. For more information see the tourism information links.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Maroochydore and other Sunshine Coast towns. For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Wreck diving is challenging and adventurous for recreational divers, but also carries with it potential risks. Risks posed to divers include entrapment, getting lost, injury from sharp protrusions and decompression sickness (bends).

Diving shipwrecks requires careful planning and experience. All divers must have a recognised scuba diving qualification. The site is not suitable for inexperienced divers without a guide and intending divers should satisfy themselves that they have an appropriate level of training, certification and experience to undertake the planned dive. Where any doubt exists, dive with a licensed dive tour operator.

It is recommended that divers complete a minimum of 10 open water dives before diving this site. Certified open water divers can descend to tour around the top deck of the ship in around 15–16m of water. Qualified Advanced Open Water divers can dive to the base of the wreck. Only divers with suitable equipment, training and experience should attempt to enter the wreck.

The dive leader must accept the permit conditions and undertake that all divers on the trip have an appropriate level of training and/or experience to carry out the planned diving activity.

Check the weather: All diving on the Sunshine Coast is done in open sea conditions. For your safety and comfort, ensure you only venture out for diving trips in good boating weather. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

For Dive medical and safety advice contact: Divers Emergency Service (DES) Australia Phone: 1800 088 200 (24 hour service) (Please use 000 where urgent medical attention is required)

For more information, please read the general guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

It's everyone's responsibility to help maintain the quality and integrity of the wreck. Photo courtesy of Gillian Davison, Noosa Blue Water Dive.

It's everyone's responsibility to help maintain the quality and integrity of the wreck. Photo courtesy of Gillian Davison, Noosa Blue Water Dive.

Diver and snorkelers numbers are capped in order to maintain the quality of the dive/snorkel experience and to minimise the impacts on the natural and cultural values of the reef, as well as for safety. The following conditions apply:

  • Divers/snorkelers must not deface, damage, interfere or remove any material from the ex-HMAS Brisbane.
  • Divers/snorkelers must not interfere with or collect marine life or any other naturally occurring material in the park.

See the general guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

The wreck and artificial reef is managed as the Ex-HMAS Brisbane Regional Park under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) is responsible for managing the site and regulating access by licensed dive tour operators, dive clubs and recreational divers and snorkelers. It has the authority to restrict or prohibit activities that could compromise safety, amenity or protection of the site, such as fishing and anchoring.

Regional park status provides for a range of recreational, commercial and scientific research opportunities and the ability to regulate activities for ecologically sustainable use of, and access to, the dive tourism infrastructure, by current and future generations.

Commercial activity agreements under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 have been negotiated between QPWS and dive tour operators for the provision of commercial and recreational dive tour services at the site. Dive tour operators that hold this agreement are required to manage the site in a manner that is consistent with the proposed management intent and use of the regional park.

Day-to-day management of the artificial reef includes: managing visitors, administering dive tour activity, surveillance and compliance, communication and community engagement, risk assessment and mitigation, environmental assessment and monitoring, and installing and maintaining moorings and navigational aids.

QPWS aims to minimise risks to divers and snorkelers by managing conflicting activities, requiring operators to practise safe diving procedures, removing hazardous material and protrusions and minimising risk of entrapment.

QPWS rangers undertake regular daytime and night-time patrols of the site.

Tourism information links

Licensed dive tour operators and QPWS permit agents

The following dive tour operators are licensed to issue QPWS permits to private divers, snorkelers or club divers using the public mooring.

Scuba World, Mooloolaba
www.scubaworld.com.au
The Wharf, Parkyn Parade Mooloolaba Harbour
PO Box 906, Mooloolaba Qld 4557
Phone: (07) 5444 8595
Fax: (07) 5444 8596
Email:

Sunreef, Mooloolaba
www.sunreef.com.au
110 Brisbane Road, Mooloolaba Qld 4557
Phone: (07) 5444 5656
Fax: (07) 5478 0716
Email:

General tourism information

Sunshine Coast Destination Limited
www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Dive medical advice

Divers Emergency Service (DES) Australia
Phone: 1800 088 200 (24 hour service)
(Please use 000 where urgent medical attention is required)

Contact us

Last updated
10 February 2014