Victoria - World Class Temperate Water Diving Destination

ex HMAS Canberra goes Boom!
ex HMAS Canberra goes boom
at 1.57 pm on Sunday, 4 October 2009.
© Andrew Newton

Centrepiece of Victorian Diving

Thousands of scuba divers have already experienced the majesty and adventure of diving and exploring the ex HMAS Canberra artificial reef and dive wreck since the dive site was opened on Saturday, 5 December 2009.

The ex HMAS Canberra dive site is the first artificial reef specifically created for diving in Victoria. It lies in approximately 28 metres of water, with the top of the mast about 5 metres below the surface at low tide. The site provides opportunities for divers with varying levels of experience and certification, from open water level certificates to advanced wreck divers, to enjoy this site.

ex HMAS Canberra half way down
ex HMAS Canberra half way down
© Andrew Newton

Diving the ex HMAS Canberra Reef

The ex HMAS Canberra dive site was opened on Saturday, 5 December 2009.

See the pages in our Diving the Canberra section for more details about the dive site.

See the pages in our Booking section for details about Charter Operators and Dive Shops who can take you out to dive the ex HMAS Canberra.

The ex HMAS Canberra is now a Marine Reserve and 'no take zone'. The site is managed by Parks Victoria (www.parkweb.vic.gov.au) and protected under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 and Marine Act 1988.

Starboard view, bow to stern, of ex HMAS Canberra ready for scuttling
ex HMAS Canberra at the Geelong Grain Wharf
after being prepared for scuttling.
© Andrew Newton

A Look Through the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02

Many asked, but it simply was not possible to go on a physical tour of the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 before the ship was scuttled. The dock at Geelong Grain Wharf where she was prepared was a secure area with no access to the public. Besides, once ready for scuttling, with diver access holes everywhere, it would have be extremely difficult to make the ex HMAS Canberra safe for a public walkthrough.

Thankfully, you can take a look at the video walkthrough below. It shows before, during and after the preparation of the warship as an artificial reef and dive wreck. It was filmed, produced and narrated by VARS Committee member Alan Beckhurst.


Video walkthrough showing before and after the preparation.
Video filmed, produced and narrated by Alan Beckhurst (VARS Committee member)

You can also read many details about obtaining and preparing the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 on our Sink the Canberra web pages. Photos taken during the process can be seen on our Ship Preparation web page.

She's Down!
The ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 was scuttled at 2 pm on Sunday, 4 October 2009


Channel 7 News report on the scutting of the ex HMAS Canberra off Ocean Grove.
© Channel 7 News

ex HMAS Canberra last farewell
ex HMAS Canberra last farewell
© Andrew Newton

The ex HMAS Canberra left the Geelong Grain Wharf at 5.30 am on Saturday, 3 October 2009, under tow by tug to her sinking site. The vessel and accompanying flotilla traversed The Rip at 2.34 pm. To see some of the pictures taken during the tow, please see Ship Journey to Site

Due to high winds late on Saturday, the contractors were unable to keep the vessel in position at the sinking site off Ocean Grove. The ex HMAS Canberra was moved out to sea for safety overnight. On Sunday morning the ship was moved back to the sinking site. Final preparations then began, plus final positioning.

At 2 pm on Sunday, 4 October 2009 the ship was scuttled off Ocean Grove, with a large flotilla of spectator vessels on at hand at sea, plus thousands of people watching from the shore near Ocean Grove. To see more videos and pictures of the scuttling, please visit Ship Scuttling.

ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive

Read the initial report from the ex HMAS Canberra site survey dive conducted by Dive Victoria on Saturday, 21 November 2009. More about: ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive - Saturday, 21 November 2009: VARS Media Release

The Tow and the Scuttling of ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02

ex HMAS Canberra passing Clifton Springs on tow to the scuttling site
ex HMAS Canberra passing Clifton Springs at 8 am on
Saturday, 3-Oct-09 while on tow to the scuttling site.
© Andrew Newton
  • The ex HMAS Canberra left the grain wharf in North Geelong at first light around 5.30 am on Saturday, 3 October 2009.
  • The vessel passed through The Rip at 2.34 pm (1434).
  • On arrival at the sinking site, strong winds made it unsafe to keep the vessel at the site and she was moved out to sea overnight.
  • On Sunday morning the ship was moved back to the sinking site. Final preparations were completed and the ship was positioned ready for scuttling.
  • A 1000 metre exclusion zone (i.e. 1000 metre all round the ship) was maintained around the vessel by the Victoria Water Police, together with a safety 500 metre intruder intercept zone.
  • Five minutes prior to the scuttling an orange smoke flare was activated.
  • One minute before firing, an orange smoke flare was activated together with an audible signal of 15 seconds duration.
  • The ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 was scuttled at 2 pm on Sunday, 4 October 2009.

For more details about the scuttling process, please see Ship Scuttling.

ex HMAS Canberra passing by Point Lonsdale on tow to the scuttling site
ex HMAS Canberra passing by Point Lonsdale
on tow to the scuttling site.
© Andrew Newton

Viewing the Sinking

The best place to view the sinking was out on the water.
ex HMAS Canberra Dive Site Map (Adobe PDF | 1.24 MB)

A very large flotilla of around 200 private and charter boats started gathering outside the exclusion zone from early on Sunday, 4 October 2009. Condidition at sea for spectators were excellent. Victoria Water Poilice were diligent in moving on those that strayed too close.

Hundreds people gathered a various vantage points on the dune coastline of Ocean Grove.

To see more videos and pictures of the scuttling, please visit Ship Scuttling.


HMAS Canberra FFG 02 from the side
HMAS Canberra FFG 02
© Department of Defence

VARS and the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02

The Victorian Artificial Reef Society (VARS) is a non-profit, dive community group working towards the goal that quite soon you will be able to come and dive the ex HMAS Canberra as an artificial reef and wreck site in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Feel free to use this web site to keep track of the progress of the Let's Sink the ex HMAS Canberra project, plus find information about other dive sites in Victoria. We hope this web site will become the place you turn to when you need information about temperate water scuba diving in Victoria, including how to get here, where to stay, what to do and who to get in touch with.


Posted on Monday, 23 November 2009

ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive

21 November 2009 — We are happy to report that on Saturday, 21 November 2009, a Dive Victoria technical dive team was contracted to do a site survey dive on the HMAS Canberra for the government contractor, the Birdon Group, to assess the readiness and safety of the site for recreational divers ahead of the sites public opening.

The site is in fantastic condition perfectly settled listing to her starboard side. She has already established some growth over her and many different schools of juvenile fish were seen through out the dive. The dive through her proved to be far beyond what we possibly imagined. There are still dozens of features in place making each and every room exciting to explore. We were extremely pleased with the way the ship has been prepared and the subsequent cleanup of the items that came loose or were damaged when she filled with water.

The dive showed that the site has been justified in remaining closed until the unstable and damaged items could be removed or made safe. We noted a couple of additional items that will need minor attention and should easily be completed by the commercial dive team during their next dives.

We surveyed depths of key points around the ship and are pleased to say that there is plenty of this wreck safely able to be explored by Open Water certification divers and then the Advanced divers will enjoy exploring down to her maximum depth on the sand of 29m. Penetrating the wreck showed that even seasoned wreck explorers will enjoy exploring this wreck as the maze of rooms each with different items to view means many dives will be needed to truly explore her end to end. Whilst the ship has been made very safe with multiple entry and exit points through out, there is still a true feeling of exploring a real wreck with many over head areas making this a true wreck to respect.

The mooring system appears to have been ideally placed being quite close to the ship and will allow for a good setup to facilitate efficient and safe access too and from the wreck.

Whilst the sea conditions were very good, we have no reason to believe the surge effects even in larger seas will be any worse than is currently experienced on many of the Victoria other open sea sites. It was evident that many areas inside the ship will be protected form surge giving great opportunity to plan a dive to suit the conditions of the day.

We conducted the survey dive using twin tanks and on Nitrox 32 gas and found that this site is perfectly suited to that sort of application giving us a long dive time and enabling us to work through the wreck upward deck by deck and still avoid decompression.

This ship is spectacular and all the team agreed that is without a doubt the best scuttled wreck site any of us have dived. We look forward to the final clean up dives being completed over the next week and then the official clearance and opening of the site hopefully very soon after.

A short video of the dive will be uploaded on various web sites once our report has been released from the contractor.

Regards,
 
Jason Salter
Managing Director, The Dive Victoria Group Pty Ltd
Treasurer, Victorian Artificial Reef Society Inc (VARS)

Posted on Sunday, 26 July 2009

ex HMAS Canberra Historic Sinking Ball

ex HMAS Canberra Historical Sinking Ball

When: Saturday, 17 October 2009, 7.00 p.m. – midnight
Where: Melbourne Aquarium — Coral Atoll Room
Tickets: $150 per person all inclusive (food, drinks, entertainment, GST)
Food: Gourmet three course meal
Drink: Premier sommelier's beverage package
Entertainment: Seven piece band with brass
Dress: Ladies, After 5 | Gents, Lounge/Dinner Suit

Bookings: Online Ticket Bookings
   or contact the Ticket Coordinator:
     by e-mail to tickets@vars.org.au
     or by phone on (03) 5988 5508 (8.30 a.m. – 8.30 p.m.)

Tickets are limited, so people wishing to attend this historic event should order their tickets without delay. Tables comfortably seat 10 people. There are a limited number of tables for 12 people available by special request.

Any special dietary requirements (vegetarian, coleliac etc.) will need to be conveyed to the ticket coordinator, preferably via the Online Ticket Booking Form or by e-mail.

Nearby Parking

Secure Parking - 474 Flinders Street
$10 after 6 p.m.
Secure Parking is open until:
   3.00 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays
   11.00 p.m. on Sundays – Thursdays.

Crown Casino
MULTI-LEVEL CARPARK RATES:
   Mon to Thurs $12.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
   Friday $12.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
   Saturday $6.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
   Sunday $6.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
 
BASEMENT CARPARK RATES:
   Mon to Thurs $20.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
   Friday $20.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
   Saturday $10.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
   Sunday $10.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
 
For all other times and details regarding the location of these car parks, please call Crown Information on 03 9292 5505 or visit www.crowncasino.com.au

Melbourne Aquarium - nearby parking and accommodation (Adobe PDF | 283.29 KB)

Nearby Accommodation

Crowne Plaza Melbourne
Across the Yarra River from the Melbourne Aquarium - 5 mins walk
Contact: Anthea Scerri
Phone: 03 9648 2652
Email: anthea.scerri@crowneplazamelbourne.com.au

Rendezvous - 328 Flinders St, Melbourne
Approximately 10 mins walk from the Melbourne Aquarium
Contact: Louise Osborne
Phone: 03 9250 1888
Email: res@melbourne.rendezvous.com.au

Clarion Suites Gateway - Cnr of Flinders & Williams Sts
Approximately 7 mins walk from the Melbourne Aquarium
Contact: Natalie Moutou
Phone: 03 9296 8853
Email: res@clarionsuitesgateway.com.au

The Langham Hotel - Southbank
Approximately 10 mins walk from the Melbourne Aquarium
Contact: Kylie Shorter
Phone: 03 8696 8041
Email: kylie.shorter@langhamhotels.com

Melbourne Aquarium - nearby parking and accommodation (Adobe PDF | 283.29 KB)

Posted on Friday, 17 July 2009

Target Date Set for ex HMAS Canberra Sinking

Wednesday, 15 July 2009: VARS News Update

In Brief

  • Site confirmed
  • Target Date of 15th August for scuttling
  • Ship preparation completed and looking magnificent
  • Site management process continues to advance
  • Historical Celebratory Ball being planned for 17th October
  • Promotional and marketing material well into development

Sub-Committee Reports

Ship Preparation - Convenor: Jason Salter
At last, the end is in sight! Whilst not yet confirmed, we are advised that a target date has been set for scuttling. This date is 15th August 2009 and is the date being worked to by all parties. This date is highly weather dependant. A satisfactory "window" of clear and calm weather is required in order to ensure that the scuttling goes well.

The ship preparation is now virtually complete with only minor details remaining. Preparation work has produced outstanding results. Substantial efforts have been made to retain the character of the vessel and not simply turn it into "Swiss cheese". There are numerous potential dives to many different areas of the ship. Many features have been retained, the most notable of which is a hand-painted mural located in the ship's mess. Some repairs have been required to the mural following an act of vandalism whilst the ship was at the Geelong Grain Pier. The mural has also been coated with clear lacquer in an attempt to preserve it.

All are in agreement that Canberra is the best prepared of all ships scuttled in Australia so far and will be very exciting to dive.

Site Management - Convenor: Alan Beckhurst
The site has been confirmed and signed off by the relevant parties. Canberra will be put to rest approximately 0.8 nautical miles from the J4 Submarine. Depth will be around 30 metres with the main deck at 18 metres. This is an ideal location and depth.

The site manager will be Parks Victoria. Four mooring buoys will be established around the wreck. Three will be for commercial operators with one for private boats. The system for bookings is still being worked on and will be advised in due course.

Scuttling Celebrations - Celebratory Ball - Convenor: Mick Jeacle
A Historical Sinking Ball will be held at the Coral Atoll Room at the Melbourne Aquarium on Saturday, 17th October 2009 to celebrate the scuttling of ex-HMAS Canberra. This ball promises to be "the" event of the year. Ticket prices will be $150 each, with numbers strictly limited. The ticket price includes meal, drinks and entertainment.

People wishing to attend this historic event should order their tickets without delay. Details on how to order and pay are on the website (www.hmascanberra.com.au) or via the ticket coordinator on 03 5988 5508.

Other events are also in planning for the scuttle date. It is anticipated that a large flotilla of boats will be in attendance. Enquiries are also being made for a possible attendance by an RAN vessel.

Marketing / Promotion - Convenor: Bryan McGoldrick
A 3D geospatial DVD is now in preparation. This has been put together with the kind assistance of Bill de Blasio from 360 South who took all the necessary 3D photographs.

A documentary on the ship is also well in progress. This will be released after the ship is finally at rest.

Communication - Convenor: Mike Reed
Following our previous concerns with communication between VARS and various government entities, VARS is now "back in the loop" and continues to liaise regularly. With a target scuttling date now being worked to, public and community interest in the project is heightening with John Lawler's phone now virtually in constant use fielding a variety of queries as well as liaising with the various agencies!

Fund Raising / Membership - Convenor: Warrick McDonald
No new activities. The T-shirts ordered by various members are now available for collection.

Older news
> 01-May-09: ex HMAS Canberra Site Concerns Appear Resolved
> 05-Apr-09: New ex HMAS Canberra Site Concerns
> 21-Feb-09: ex HMAS Canberra Ship Preparation Nearly Complete
> 22-Nov-08: VARS Moves Forward With ex HMAS Canberra Project
> 13-Nov-08: VARS Annual Report 2008
> 28-Sep-08: ex HMAS Canberra Project Progress Report
> 05-Jul-08: ex HMAS Canberra Arrives - VARS Patron Announced
> 12-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra Arrives
> 07-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra to arrive on Tuesday, 10th June 2008
> 03-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra is on tow to Victoria
> 26-May-08: VARS Announces the Canberra is Coming!
> 29-Mar-08: Sinking Site Agreed On for the ex HMAS Canberra
> 16-Jan-08: ex HMAS Canberra Project Progress
> 19-Oct-07: VARS Moves Forward With ex HMAS Canberra Project
> 12-Oct-07: ex HMAS Canberra Reef
> 28-Aug-07: VARS Annual Report 2007
> 23-Jul-07: Federal Government Offers to Fund and Sink the ex-HMAS Canberra
> 20-Jul-07: VARS Meets With Tourism Minister
> 26-May-07: Update from VARS President, John Lawler
> 21-May-07: Dive hopes sink
> 08-May-07: MPs Respond to VARS Concerns
> 23-Apr-07: VARS puts delay concerns to the Minister of Defence
> 20-Apr-07: Delay strikes divers
> 29-Mar-07: Red tape ties up ship for peninsula dive site
> 27-Mar-07: VARS Launches ex HMAS Canberra Web Site
> 13-Mar-07: VARS Meets With Minister of Defence

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