Halifax Park

Halifax Park Dive Location
Halifax Park
Halifax Park
Halifax Park
Halifax Park
Cirrhitichthys aprinus (Blotched Hawkfish) - Halifax Park
Scorpaenodes scaber (Pygmy Rockcod) - Halifax Park
Gymnothorax prasinus (Green/Yellow Moray) - Halifax Park
Chelmonops truncatus (Truncate Coralfish) - Halifax Park
Parapercis ramsayi (Spotted Grubfish) - Halifax Park
Scorpaena cardinalis (Red Rock Cod) - Halifax Park
Flabellina rubrolineata (Red-lined Flabellina) - Halifax Park
Chromodoris hunterae (Hunter's Chromodoris) - Halifax Park
Trapania brunnea (Brown Trapania) - Halifax Park
Phyllodesmium poindimiei (Pink Phyllodesmium) - Halifax Park
Dermatobranchus nigropunctatus (Gorgonian Dermatobranchus) - Halifax Park
Ceratosoma amoenum (Sweet Ceratosoma) - Halifax Park
Zoanthids (Order Zoanthidea) - Halifax Park

Halifax Park was an iconic dive in NSW that has a sad recent history. It was a site where there was a series of reef walls that dropped down from the shore to 25m. The reef was covered in fixed growth, huge barrel sponges, some of the most expansive and beautiful sponge Gardens that could be imagined and fish life so rich that the site drew dozens of divers every high tide. Halifax Park is the easterly boundary of the Fly Point-Halifax Park Aquatic reserve, a truly special place.

Unfortunately, in 2010 it became apparent that sand was rapidly building up across the site. It is thought to have been caused by sand barriers put in place by the local council to prevent sand build up on the near by boat ramp. The sand started encroaching in the shallower water then marched its way down the slope, covering everything in its path. It destroyed the balance of the ecosystem and soon sea urchins were eating anything left by the sand. There was a supervised cull of urchins to prevent further destruction to the site. The sand built up to the point that a massive dune developed where the beach used to be and the council had to truck it away.

There was a time where I could not bring myself to dive there. It was just too depressing. This used to be arguably the best shore dive in NSW and to see what has happened to it is just distressing. You can still have a great dive at the site but it requires a different approach to the old way of diving it. The way you used to dive it was to make your way out to the channel marker submerge and just follow a path north, progressively making your way down the steps and cliffs, through the sponge gardens. These days that would result in a very ordinary dive in comparison to that of the past.

You need to dive Halifax Park at slack water and usually on the High Tide. If you are desperate enough you can do at low tide but expect the Vis to be very poor. The thing to keep in mind about this site that you you are diving under the main boating channel in Port Stephens. You must never surface at this site with making you way back into the shallows first. There is a serious amount of boat traffic that travels through this channel especially in the summer months.

You wont likely be fighting for space in the dirt carpark these days. Kit up and make your way down to the water. The way I dive this site these days is to swim out to the channel marker and submerge. Head down the slope until about the 15m mark and head in an Easterly direction. You will find interesting sponges Gardens in this area and it is a really good dive still.

You can expect to fund any number of Nudibranch species present including:

  • Hunter's Chromodoris
  • Brown Trapania
  • Pink Phyllodesmium
  • Red-lined Flaballina
  • Gorgonian Dermatobranchus
  • Sweet Ceratosoma

I seem to find the Brown Trapania on the red finger like sponges. Given the diversity of Nudibranch life at Nelson Bay you are likely to see just about anything.

The fish life is still reasonable. You will find most of the species at Halifax that you will find at Fly Point. Most commonly:

  • Blotched Hawkfish
  • Half Banded Seaperch
  • Spotted Grubfish
  • Pygmy Rockcod
  • Red Rockcod
  • Numbfish
  • Dwarf Ornate Wobbegong
  • Dusky Flathead
  • Reef Flathead
  • Blue Grouper
  • Maori Wrasse