Bicheno, Tasmania

Bicheno is a great place to see the best of what Tasmanian diving has to offer. Kelp forests, lots of fish and the occasional marine mammal passing by are all part of the experience of diving on this section of Tasmania's coastline.

Tasmania is a large island that lies off south east Australia. While Tasmania's south and west coasts are exposed to winds and swells that build up over thousands of kilometres in the Southern and Indian Oceans, Bicheno is located on the east coast, which is much more sheltered and faces onto an extension of the Pacific called the Tasman Sea.

Tasmania has a cool temperate marine environment, with water temperatures near the coast generally falling between 11 C and 18 C over an average year. You definitely need a good 7mm wetsuit, with attached hood, to dive these waters comfortably, and drysuits are becoming popular for winter diving.

The sea around Tasmania provides divers with good visibility and the chance to see lots of marine life. Rocky reef areas in shallow water are almost always covered by kelp and other types of algae. Tasmania has a very diverse range of underwater plants, and in places you can swim through spectacular underwater forests of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera

Deeper reef areas are home to a multitude of sponges and other colourful invertebrates. Fish are numerous and dolphins, fur seals and whales can also be seen along the coast.

I think that the most spectacular diving at Bicheno is found in deeper water, protected from fishing activities in the marine reserve. At depths greater than about 25 metres, rocky reef areas become covered by sponges, anemones and other colourful invertebrates. The water seems to be filled with fish and the visibility is rarely less than 15 metres and often greater than 25 metres. During winter visibility greater than 30 metres is not uncommon.

In shallower water, there are a few small caves, which have a living wallpaper of colourful sponges and other animals. While there are some reasonable shore dives, the better dives and the marine reserve itself are best accessed by boat. The Bicheno Dive Centre operates local charter boat all year, and all dives in the reserve can be reached by a boat ride of just 2 or 3 minutes.

Some of the deepwater dives (25 to 38 metres) in the marine reserve at Bicheno are the best dives I have experienced in south east Australian waters, and as good as any I have done anywhere, including places such as the Coral Sea and Papua New Guinea.

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Jewel Anemone

Deep Reef

Sponge Garden
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