Right now, everyone’s talking about Wolf Rock, a Queensland dive site that’s suddenly on plenty of bucket lists. So where is it exactly? And why is Wolf Rock so special?
This rocky pinnacle is a 45-minute boat ride from Rainbow Beach, just north of the Sunshine Coast, halfway between Noosa and Hervey Bay in Queensland.
Alex Heathcote, James Nelson and his partner Fiona Butler have been running Wolf Rock Dive Center for just over two years. In that time, they have revealed a little-known underwater wonder to the world with their amazing videos. Here’s what they have to say about what makes Wolf Rock worth diving.
What makes Wolf Rock so special?
Wolf Rock is best known for grey nurse sharks, but we think the sheer diversity of marine life, including many specimens that are so large it blows your mind, makes this a world-class dive spot. The rock formation is also spectacular, which makes the dive even more interesting. Really, it’s the consistency of the experience that makes the site a stand out — even on a quiet day it’s a good dive.
What are the best times of year to visit?
There’s something interesting to see here year-round. The grey nurse sharks are a resident population, but if you want your dive accompanied by whale song, the annual humpback migration comes straight past the dive site between June and October.
What marine life can divers spot at Wolf Rock?
Several different species of sharks and rays consistently visit the site. Grey nurse, leopard, wobbegong and guitar sharks, three species of turtles, eagle and manta rays, pelagic fish (such as barracuda, giant trevally, kingfish, mackerel and cobia), moray eels, nudibranchs, tropical and sub-tropical fish. You name it, you will probably see it here.
Does any particular dive at Wolf Rock stand out?
We have seen a giant ornate eagle ray, which is like a spotted eagle ray on steroids, on a few dives. They have very distinctive striped markings and are fairly rare. On another recent dive we encountered a mola mola. It’s always a treat to see these deep-water fish in the shallows.
Any dive when you see grey nurse sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, bull rays, giant Queensland grouper and loggerhead turtles in the same dive is one to remember, and this experience can be quite common in summer.
I’ll never forget one dive when we had about 70 or so grey nurse sharks and four manta rays all mixed in together, with 98-foot (30 m) visibility – that was an outstanding dive. The sharks are mostly about 10 feet (3 m) long and seeing that many large sharks together in such clear water was amazing.
Do people need to be experienced to dive Wolf Rock?
Not necessarily all that experienced but divers do need to have a minimum Open Water Diver qualification and have been diving within the last 12 months. We regularly take open-water divers under our instruction to safely guide them on their first100-foot (30 m) dive with sharks.
Deborah Dickson-Smith is one half of Diveplanit, a dive travel website she manages with her partner Simon Mallender, based in Australia.