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About Ex-HMAS Brisbane

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Getting there and getting around

Ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park is a world class, wreck-dive site featuring the ex-HMAS Brisbane, a former Royal Australian Navy warship. The conservation park was created around the wreck, where it now lies in 28m of water off the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It is growing a beautiful reef, which is home to a multitude of colourful fish and other small sea creatures, together offering a premier-quality, wreck dive.

The decommissioned HMAS Brisbane was scuttled, using explosive charges, on 31 July 2005. It only took two minutes and 10 seconds for the 133m ship to sink to its final resting place, where it now serves as a structure for an artificial reef and magnificent wreck-dive site.

Be aware: To enter the conservation park, and dive or snorkel the ex-HMAS Brisbane, visitors must either book onto a dive tour or get a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) dive permit.

Permits

* QPWS permits are only issued by one of the licensed dive tour operators.

Opening hours

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

Location

Restricted access area

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

Qualifications

  • All divers must have a recognised scuba-diving qualification.
  • A range of dives is available: some suitable for open-water level, certificate divers, and others for advanced wreck divers.
  • Snorkellers do not need dive qualifications, but will need a permit.

For further information:

Park features

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

The ex-HMAS Brisbane is a former warship that is now in 28m 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.

Good light, great sights

  • Access inside the ex-HMAS Brisbane is optimal with:
    • all internal areas offer three points of natural light
    • wide and open entry and exit swim-throughs.
  • Access holes allow passage into:
    • the forward engine room
    • boiler room
    • gun mount
    • ship's interior with crew quarters.
  • The smoke stack starts at just 3m below the surface.
  • The ship is:
    • eight stories high
    • seven cricket pitches long (133m).

RAA—protecting divers and site

The conservation park, and its restricted access area (PDF, 201K) (RAA) protection, ensures that the site can be enjoyed, yet managed to maintain the cultural, historic and aesthetic values of the ship, as well as the ship's 'dignity', that is, showing respect to its historic service to Australia during the Vietnam and Gulf wars.

Still serving

The ex-HMAS Brisbane may have finished its military service, but still serves today as excellent habitat for large and small marine life, a stunning artificial reef and exciting exploratory dives for years to come.

The ship was kept, as much as possible, in its original condition before scuttling. The bridge, missile launcher and propeller were removed by the Royal Australian Navy and serve as interpretive displays at facilities including the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. A few minor items were removed for safety, but essentially the ship's structural integrity was maintained.

Read more:

Camping and accommodation

Queensland's Sunshine Coast offers a wide range of accommodation from camping to cabins, motels, self-contained units, houses and resorts. 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 provides excellent scuba-diving and some snorkelling opportunities.

Be aware:

  • All divers must have a recognised scuba-diving qualification.
  • Private divers and snorkellers need a QPWS permit.
  • The site is not suitable for inexperienced divers without a guide.
  • Recommended experience is a minimum of 10 open-water dives.
  • Wreck 'penetration' should only be attempted by those with suitable equipment, training and experience.
  • Wreck diving is potentially dangerous.

Guided tours

The two dive tour operators are licensed to offer dives within Ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park. If you are a certified diver, contact the dive operators to find out which dive experiences they can offer you.

Snorkelling

You need a permit and fees apply to snorkel the wreck. You do not need scuba-diving qualifications.

Visibility varys

  • summer visibility is about 10–15m
  • winter visibility is about 15–25m.

Viewing wildlife

The ex-HMAS Brisbane is covered with hard and soft corals, offering divers and snorkellers an underwater wonderland to explore. Just some of the sights you can see are:

  • fish, including bat fish, mackerel, coral trout and small groper
  • bottom-dwelling sharks such as wobbegongs
  • crayfish
  • sea urchins
  • anemones
  • sea stars
  • sea whips
  • gorgonians
  • turtles
  • stingrays
  • cowries
  • nudibranchs, including the fantastic spanish dancers.

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

Diving yes! Fishing No!

Access permits for general boating and fishing in and around Ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park are not issued, due to the serious risks to divers from hooks and entanglement in discarded fishing line.

  • 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.
  • Be aware: Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers regularly conduct compliance patrols.

Nearby attractions

The Sunshine Coast is full of attractions, including zoos and aquaria, golden beaches and wide rivers, wildflowers and beautiful hinterland rainforests in the Blackall Range, Mary Caincross Park and the Maleny, Kondalilla and Mapleton national parks.

Take a coastal walk

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

Diving gear

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

Diving permits are required

  • A valid Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) permit or written authority is required to enter the park, and to dive or snorkel the ex-HMAS Brisbane.
  • All divers must be certified and hold a recognised scuba-diving qualification.
  • Permits for private divers, snorkellers, or club divers using the public mooring, can be obtained from one of the licensed dive tour operators.
  • Divers can book a dive tour with a licensed dive tour operators on the Sunshine Coast.

Be aware:

  • 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.
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.

Permits for private and club dives or snorkels

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

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.
  • The number of divers and snorkellers is limited for safety and environmental 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 2hr timeslots.

Fees

  • private dive groups: $25 per person per 2hr timeslot
  • club dive groups: $22 per person per 2hr timeslot
  • private snorkellers: $15 per person per 2hr timeslot.

Dive tour operators

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

Climate and weather

Diving or snorkelling the ex-HMAS Brisbane is great all year 'round.

  • South East Queensland has a subtropical climate.
  • Local weather and sea conditions are likely to provide about 200 dive days per year.
  • Local water temperatures rarely drop below 19°C, but can reach 27°C in summer.

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

An adventure needs planning

Wreck diving is adventurous and challenging for recreational divers. It requires careful planning and experience. It has dangers, such as:

  • entrapment
  • getting lost
  • injury from sharp protrusions
  • decompression sickness (bends).

Get qualified

Get experience

  • The site is not suitable for inexperienced divers without a guide.
  • Intending divers should satisfy themselves that they have an appropriate level of training, certification and experience to undertake the planned dive.
  • If any doubt exists, dive with a licensed dive tour operator.

Dive leaders have responsibility

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.

Dive within your limits

It is recommended that:

  • only divers with suitable equipment, training and experience should ever attempt to enter the wreck
  • divers have completed 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 approximately 15–16m of water
  • qualified, advanced open-water divers can dive to the base of the wreck.

As a guide

 To dive here You will need
 outside and upper decks open-water dive certification
 outside to bottom level advanced, open-water dive certification
 upper level penetration

wreck certification and/or suitable open-water dive experience

 lower level penetration

wreck certification and/or advanced, open-water dive experience

Check the weather

  • Note that 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 online: Bureau of Meteorology.

For dive medical or safety advice

For urgent medical attention

Call Triple Zero (000).

For other safety 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.

Great dive. Safe dive.

Diver and snorkeller numbers are limited for safety. Controlling numbers in the site, at any one time, maintains the quality of the dive and snorkel experience, and minimises impacts on the reef and the wreck.

The following conditions apply when you dive this site:

  • Divers/snorkellers must not deface, damage, interfere or remove any material from the ex-HMAS Brisbane.
  • Divers/snorkellers 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 Conservation 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 snorkellers. It has the authority to restrict or prohibit activities that could compromise safety, amenity or protection of the site, such as fishing and anchoring.

Conservation 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 conservation 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
  • installing and maintaining moorings and navigational aids.

QPWS aims to minimise risks to divers and snorkellers by:

  • managing conflicting activities
  • requiring operators to practise safe diving procedures
  • removing hazardous material and protrusions
  • 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, snorkellers 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 and emergencies

Divers Emergency Service (DES) Australia: Phone: 1800 088 200 (24 hour service).
For medical emergencies: Call Triple Zero (000).

Contact us

Last updated
6 December 2019