Ex HMAS Brisbane

On a recent trip to SE Queensland, we took the opportunity to again dive the Ex-HMAS Brisbane. The last time we dived her was not long after the scuttling, so I was excited to see the changes. We were fortunate to have a few ex URG members living in the area and managed to find one available to join us on the mid-week dive. Debbie and Greg were off doing Heron Island so missed the dive, but Harry was available and recommended we dive with Scuba World at Mooloolaba. We found them friendly and professional. Their boat is a large comfortable RIB with lots of room for the 15 divers, a head and refreshments were provided.


After the trip along the river past the multimillion-dollar mansions we headed out into the deep blue. The further out we got the bluer the water became. On reaching the mooring and following a second safety brief we were free to start the adventure. Harry was the perfect guide, having served in the RAN and serving as Chief Engineer on the Brisbane he knows this ship like the back of his hand. It was nice to just follow along for a change and not think about dive plans and navigation.


We descended down the mooring line and across the crossover line to the starboard bow. Once settled and all Oks given the tour began by descending down the forward stack straight into the boiler room. A cursory look at the two boilers then through a doorway to the engine room. The reduction gearboxes are massive and are open to allow inspection of the cogs. We then ducked in and out and explored around the stern. A return to the mooring past the toilets along deck one was a highlight. As promised by our guide the best pelagic marine life is along the port side.


Dive two followed a similar plan but entry to the engine room was via a large access hole cut in the side of the ship and we spent more time on deck one finishing on the bow for the obligatory Leonardo Titanic portrait. I liked the gun and missile control room. While the instruments are all gone the control panels etc are all in place. The other highlight is the stern and bow guns with barrels pointing forward and aft ready for action.


Dive depths were 26 and 22 meters with a lot of the time spent around the 18-meter mark and finishing at 13 meters on the bow. Following the required safety stop dive time was in the order of 50 minutes each. There is a Queensland requirement to limit dive time to 50 minutes. Similar to most Government funded wrecks there is a time slot allocation to mooring leases of 3 hours. This limits dive time and does not allow for any extra surface interval. Obvious rules made by bureaucrats who were not divers. However, on air 50 minutes is pushing the deco limits anyway. Why did I choose not to do the Nitrox?


The benthic marine life on the wreck is not prolific consisting mainly of low encrusting plate corals and algae. There are a few small black corals starting to grow. While for many including our guide, it is about the ship for Janet and I it was more about the fish. I did not have my tropical fish books so will limit observations to known fish or family’s rather than fish and species count.


We saw snapper, kingfish, jellyfish, batfish, 6 eagle rays, 3 species of trevally, angelfish, blue tangs, schools of moon wrasse, sergeants, girdled palma, lionfish, saddled toby, assorted butterflyfish, hawk fish, Octopi, clownfish in their anemones, emperors, Moorish idols, bannerfish, triggerfish, silver butterfish, parrot fish and potato cod. Inside the wreck was swarming with ladder fin pomfrets, cardinal fish bullseyes and small silver (Hardy heads?) fish.


At times on the outside of the wreck the viz would drop to less than a meter. This was when the masses of bait fish took shelter around the divers from the marauding schools of trevally and kingfish.

Ok so those in Sydney really hate me the viz was a good 15 meters of deep blue water and the temperature was 26 degrees on the bottom.


At times on the outside of the wreck the viz would drop to less than a meter. This was when the masses of bait fish took shelter around the divers from the marauding schools of trevally and kingfish.

Ok so those in Sydney really hate me the viz was a good 15 meters of deep blue water and the temperature was 26 degrees on the bottom.


Thanks to Harry and the crew at Scuba World Mooloolaba for the day.


Pics by Michael Abbott



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All photos on this website, unless credited otherwise, are by John Turnbull

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