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SS President Coolidge

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More Dive Trips

Two Wrecks and Jetty

 

As a resident of the Bunbury region in the south west of Western Australia for about twenty years, the waters of Geographe bay are my local dive spots. Apart from the Busselton jetty, which has survived for well over a century, at least one cyclone and one fire, they also contain two deliberately sunk dive wrecks, the Lena and the Swan.
There are other dives in Geographe bay, especially if you like to hunt crayfish in the season, but as I don't, the two wrecks and the jetty are what I usually once each year. The diving season runs approximately from October through to May, with the best months usually December to March, when the sea is calm, visibility good and water temperature 20 to 23 degrees.
Both wrecks and the end section of the jetty are protected from fishing although unfortunately this happens at all three. Nevertheless there is still plenty of fish life to see in each case. I have dived the Lena and the Swan almost every year since their sinkings and it has been interesting to observe the growth and changes of marine flora and fauna as well as the wrecks themselves over these periods.

 

Lena

 

 

The Lena was a confiscated Chinese fishing vessel, caught illegally fishing for Patagonian toothfish in Australian Antarctic waters in 2002, following a chase by the navy. After being stripped clean the vessel was deliberately sunk in 2003 about 5km offshore from Bunbury in about 18m of water on a flat sandy bottom. The Lena sits upright and due it's relatively compact (55m) size, openness and the depth it is an easy wreck to dive. Because of its lightweight construction, depth and exposure to winter swells, despite its relatively short time underwater, it is already starting to show signs of breaking up, with the stern deck collapsing, and last winter the bridge floor doing the same.
Inside there is plenty to look at, including the engine room, conveyor all with easy access. Fish life inside includes bulls eyes and batfish, with Port Jackson sharks, goatfish, cuttlefish, toadfish outside.
The Lena is a boat dive and during the season can be dived from a regular charter dive boat from Bunbury ( www.octopusgardendivecharters.com.au )

 

The Busselton jetty

 

The jetty is the longest wooden constructed jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, being approximately two kilometres long. It was built in the 19th century to enable ships to directly load timber harvested inland and brought by train from the forests of the SW by overcoming the shallow waters of the bay at Busselton. The railway on the jetty still exists today with a tourist train running along it. This can also be used by divers and their gear out to the end where a ramp and ladder allows easy access for $11 return.  The depth at the end is about 9m and the scene underwater in calm sunny conditions is quite spectacular, with the colourful coral and sponge encrusted wooden pylons casting shadows, usually with large schools of yellow tails in between. Apart from old wives, bullseyes, cuttlefish there is also plenty of macro interest.

 

 

Swan

 

The HMAS Swan was a destroyer escort that following decommissioning in 1996 became the first ex navy ship to be deliberately sunk as a dive wreck in Australia in 1997. The ship was stripped (unfortunately the gun on the forward deck was also removed), and lies substantially upright in about 30m of water approximately 2km off the coast near Dunsborough. With a length of 113m and with access from bow to stern the Swan is substantial and an interesting dive, with toilets, wash basins and the bridge area of note. There are normally plenty of fish under the stern between the rudders to be seen, as well as inside and outside.
Being an ex warship, and reasonably deep, the structure of the ship is still very intact, the only sign of deterioration being around the tower.
The Swan is a boat dive and can be dived with Cape Dive out of Dunsborough (www.capedive.com)