Tugun Desalination Plant

Our little sneaky midweek mission turned into a surprisingly interesting dive. After gathering a crew for Meanie including Sarah, Loren, John, Tom and Michael we set off to explore the coast a little out of Labrador boat ramp. We were treated to the flattest water I’ve seen on the Seaway, and once we passed The Spit the conditions were spectacular, at least on the surface.

As Blue Meanie’s sounder/plotter had been in for replacement and I’d lost a few of my GPS marks after the backup failed I didn’t have exact marks for Mermaid Reef any more, although it was a perfect day for a wide run we decided to stick to marks I knew. We checked out the Scottish Prince, but it was inside the Poo Line and vis was pretty disappointing. I circled wide to find the current line and see if the visibility improved. Luckily this was one of those days and we found much clearer waters out wider….unfortunately that ruled out all of the inshore sites near the seaway…

Having had a couple of great dives on the desalination plant a month or so ago I decided it would be a good day to blow some cobwebs out and give Meanie a run down the coast. Most of the trip South was at a comfortable 35 knots,and after a couple of stops to sound some likely spots, we found the plant without much fuss. It was a little crowded though with Ian Banks and another boat anchored directly above the main plant.

I anchored us over the pipe about 60 meters inland and we got ready to jump in. On my last trip there had been some big schools of fish on the seaward side, and I was keen to see what was in the shallower waters landward.

Tom,  Michael and Sarah were in the water pretty quickly, as usual the boatie was in last, so I hung back with JG and Loren with their cameras. (I didn’t have any cameras with me this time, much to my disappointment!!!)

I got sick of waiting for the photo-snails to make any progress along the pipe towards the plant, and set off to catch the more interesting crew. I played in the water jets a couple of times on the way out, although I don’t recommend this, it’s worth noting that the jets are strong enough to rip masks and regulators from unwary divers, and can barrel you towards the surface at an unsafe rate if you get caught in one.

The main dome and surrounding structures provide a habitat equal to that of the GC Seaway dive site, although with a lot less fishing tackle and rubbish. Anemones (and their associated guardians), weeds, stars and soft corals abound (and nudi’s I’m assured) there is fish life galore, and the structure itself makes fro some interesting diving with beams and other structures to swim under and around.

I found the rest of the crew and after a while we headed back towards the boat, passing the photographers on the way, barely 20m further along the pipe than the anchor….

After an interval we decided to dive the plant again for the second dive, even though the freshly rediscovered Kirra Reef was just around the corner, the Plant was too good an opportunity to pass up.

I gave JG some gentle encouragement to make the epic journey to the main structure on this dive and he and Loren were treated to a very entertaining ball of Catfish which turned into some great photos.

We were all pretty satisfied with this hidden 20m gem just off the beach, and as we headed for home I’m pretty sure everyone on board mentioned they’d be happy for a return to this spot. The run home wasn’t as smooth as the outward journey, but we still made it home in time for everyone to scatter and hunt down their post-dive nourishment with the rest of the GC lunch crowd.

Trere are 3 comments on this post

  1. James Jones July 10, 2014, 11:01 pm

    Great article, Bruce. I’d like to dive that some day and play in the water jets. Sounds like you had a great adventure.

  2. Dave March 9, 2015, 4:25 am

    Thanks Bruce. I’d love to dive here. Can you access from the shore?

    • Profile photo of Bruce Muir
      Bruce Muir March 28, 2015, 2:36 pm

      Hi Dave. It’s about 1 km off shore, so not much chance of a shore dive!


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