Popes Eye

Location: Queenscliff
State: VIC
Diver Qualification: Open Water
Average Depth: 8mtrs
Max Depth: 12mtrs
Average Visibility: 15mtrs
Access Type: BOAT
Directions: Popes Eye lies about two nautical miles due east of the Queenscliff cut. It can just be seen from the shore line but is easily seen if you elevate yourself above sea level a little for example on the clif faces etc.
Description: This is one of Victoria's most and best kept dive secrets. There would hardly be a diver that hasn't trained in Port Phillip Bay that wouldn't have dived this location on some of their training dives.

A little of the history. Popes Eye was created as a rock annulus as it is today back in the 1860's when it was thought that the Russian's were our enemy. Like South Channel Fort is it totally man made but unlike its brother was never finished and remains as the Rock outcrop or annulus that we see and dive. It was to have been fortified when finished and was to have provided protection to the western shipping channel. During construction of this outcrop of rocks guns were made sufficiently big enough to protect the channel from the shore and thus the guns were mounted in the Queenscliff Fort thus there was never a need to finish the Fort.

This is really only part of the story as the rivalry that always raged between the cities of Geelong and Melbourne had something to do with this as well. Geelong was the major port and saw more shipping in those days of the Gold Rush etc, while Melbourne wanted to be the superior port etc. Somewhere along the way the protection of the western channel was never considered as important as the southern channel that lead to Melbourne. Well that is how the story goes.

Having found Popes Eye and arrived it is a wonderful place to dive. Take your shallow drafted boat into the annulus for safe anchorage. Note that the water inside the annulus can get as little as 1200mm on a very low tide so be careful and cautious. On a hot summer especially Sunday afternoon you might have to share this location with thirty or more boats. Very cramped but watching and looking at the above water white pointers makes up for the small inconvenience of jostling for an anchorage.

Enter the water carefully as it is shallow inside. We always swim to the north western point and then allow ourselves to drift around the outside and slowly drift around to the front. Don't stray from the wall as there is nothing ten metres away from the bottom of the wall.

Anywhere on the wall you will be massed by an abundance of marine life. Look for the huge crabs, abalone, shrimp, wrass,blue devils, brown and blue box fish, and behind you in spring look for the cuttle fish moving up the bay on an incoming tide. The cuttlefish are just magnificent to watch and play with.

Always be mindful of your location here as there is often a wild current here that we Victorian's are respectful of and it can catch you unaware if you are not looking for it. Anyway a dive here can be spent swimming around the entire rock wall doing a full circle back to your boat, or as we tend to do and that is to drift to the front of the wall the most southern part and then conclude our dive and climb over the wall and walk back to our boat.

There is a lovely Admiralty Anchor of years gone by here on the bottom with a plaque on it. Find the anchor and read the plaque. Around the anchore can be found old steel trolleys, cables and other such junk brought from the mining operations in Geelong where the rock was originally collected.

This dive sight as mentioned is often dived and dived by most many times in their diving life. It still is a fascinating place to dive and one that we all come back to and are amazed at the diversity of fish and marine life.

It is a marine reserve so look but don't touch or take.