On some dive sites, there is so much to see that you wish you could stay down forever. You pray your buddy won’t run low on air before you do and then curse the moment when your own computer finally tells you it’s time to go. Steve’s Bommie is such a dive.
Located on Ribbon Reef #3 of the Great Barrier Reef, Steve’s is a pinnacle rising from 72 feet (30 m) and a haven for marine life from far and wide. Octopus hide in the rocks scattered around the base and as you corkscrew the bommie on the slow ascent, layers of creatures reveal themselves to you. At first you take your time, poking around in nooks and crannies finding nudibranchs and eels, but as you get higher you discover more and more. Huge, basketball-size stonefish stare glumly from homes tucked in the rock while others swim freely through the water. The mirror glint of a leaf scorpionfish’s eyes catch yours and nearby a turtle sits peacefully on a shelf of coral, so calm and close you wonder if he’s real.
You ascend to around 32 feet (10 m) and discover a wobbegong shark hiding in a hole, a ‘shaggy beard’ of growth lining his snout. Then you see a mantis shrimp, and a flame file clam with its mantle flashing pulses of light. Schools of brilliant purple anthias flit in the sunlight against schools of yellow snapper, and hiding in a fat anemone bulging with tentacles are a pair of true clownfish. Suddenly there is more and more to see and not enough time to see it. Perhaps you should have hurried the first half a bit more, you think.
The bommie is paradise for photographers, a concentrated patch with a lot going on, but around it there is much more to see. There is the resident school of bigeye trevally, sharks, rays and a few barracuda. Sea snakes are around and dwarf minke whales pass by in season during June and July.
Steve’s Bommie is a long way from anywhere (100 miles/160 km from the nearest town of Cairns), but you can reach it by liveaboard with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. Their Fly Dive Cod Hole Expedition departs from Cairns every Monday, beginning with a spectacular low-level scenic flight over the reef north to Lizard Island. Here passengers board Spoilsport, Australian’s most awarded dive liveaboard, for a 3-day cruise back to Cairns doing 12 dives along the way, showcasing the best of the Great Barrier Reef.