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Dive the guided missile destroyer exHMAS Brisbane, encrusted with hard and soft corals, attracting hundreds of tropical species. Visit healthy tropical reefs off the Sunshine Coast. 

Dive Sites

Ex HMAS Brisbane

Depth (28m | 92ft) |
Australia's coral wreck. This warship boasts many artefacts, and impressive machinery. The structure is encrusted with colourful growth sheltering a huge range of species.
Launched 5 May 1966, the guided missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane, aka “The Steel Cat”, served with the Royal Australian Navy between 16 December 1967 and 19 October 2001.  In that time she was deployed to the Vietnam War twice and to the 1991 Gulf War.  On 31 July 2005, the now ex-HMAS Brisbane was scuttled as an artificial reef and dive site 5 kilometres off the coast of Mudjimba, Queensland, a short distance north of her namesake city.

On descent a shadow appears and quickly sharpens into the solid, dagger shaped bow of the warship.  The turret and barrel of the five-inch bow gun emerge as distinct shapes.  Nearing the wreck, further details resolve into encrusted railings, bollards and hatches.

The ex-HMAS Brisbane is remarkably intact, sitting proudly on the sand with her bow facing any oncoming ground swell.  Her structure is clearly defined, intact but swollen with marine growth.

Every surface is encrusted with a base of brown algae, enhanced by areas of spreading yellow or orange sponge.  Calcified worm tubes and abandoned barnacle shells provide texture.  Upon these earthy hues are interspersed lobes of smooth yellow, ridged pink and foaming white sponge. 

Finally, there are occasional magnificent anemone, groves of pink polyp trees, sporadic green and orange gorgonian fans, and clumps of delicate sponge flutes, and beds of many-polyps carijoa. 

Small reef fish such as sergeants, blenny, cleanerfish and damsels flit around the outside surfaces.  Larger species such as common lionfish, zebra lionfish, and stonefish rest and hunt both inside and outside the wreck.

Moving back towards the superstructure and bordering walkways, lobsters, moray eels and octopi are housed in the many sheltered openings of pipes and fixtures.

The partially sheltered walkways host beds of many-polyps carijoa.  Each stalk is enveloped by a layer of orange sponge, and at night or in the right feeding conditions, deploys branches of white polyps to gather plankton.  The carioja beds shelter a riot of delicate lace corals, fluted sponges, and hydroid sea ferns, and are home to a dozen diverse species of nudibranches.

Inside the wreck, as corridors narrow or spaces funnel into hatchways, flailing fins have unfortunately swept bare tracks across the decks and some bulkheads.  Away from the heavy traffic areas, internal growth reverts to the primary base of brown algae textured by calcified shells and tubes.  Smears of spreading or globular yellow sponge are present, but more common on the upper decks.

Down into the boiler room, engine room, steerage and various workshops, which are crowded with large and complex machinery.  Shrimp, lobsters and crabs populate the hidden cracks and crevices in abandoned equipment.  Raw points of exposed orange rust stand in sharp contrast to the rough brown encrusted growth. 

Deep within the bowels of the boiler room, lionfish, angelfish and moorish idols add splashes of colour and life.  Frequent cuts in the hull ensure that natural light reaches every interior space.  Wherever a diver is located inside the wreck, an exit will be readily apparent.

At the stern, another five-inch cannon precedes the guided missile silo, now devoid of the launch platform and carousel.  Common lionfish can occasionally be seen feeding on the great schools of juvenile fish that take shelter within the great open cylinder of the silo.

Down to the sand at 28 meters depth are the rudders and now bare propeller shafts.  Jewfish and rock cod shelter beneath the stern.  To the sand around the wreck can be found flat head, yellow tail kingfish, and whitespotted eagle rays.  The encrusted outer hull is, at depths between 20 and 13 meters, a riot of yellow, orange, white and purple sponges, and many nudibranchs.

Ascending past ladders and increasingly framework structures, leads to the funnels topping out at 5 meters depth.  Still encrusted with growth and damselfish, the funnels also attract tight schools of silver baitfish and bigeyes.  Ranging further out and up to the surface are schools of batfish, trevallie and snapper.


Depth (12m | 39ft) |
Flat sandstone rock formation covered by hard and soft corals.

Coral Gardens

Depth (18m | 59ft) |
Low reef with dense coral growth. Lots of macro photography.


Depth (23m | 75ft) |
Abundant hard and soft coral growth shelters a huge range of nudibranches, shrimp, and other macro subjects. You can always find lionfish, wobbygongs, moral eels and other reef species.

Forbidden Garden

Depth (33m | 108ft) |
Flat landscape with abundant hard and soft coral growth. The western end of the site has a series of large rocks which attract schooling fish.

Hanging Rock

Depth (21m | 69ft) |
The top of the over hang lies in 16 metres of water and drops off to 21 metres at the base of the over hanging rock. Large pelagic fish are often found underneath the over hang. There are lots of beautiful corals and plenty of fish to see.

Magic Mountain

Depth (26m | 85ft) |
Pristine sub tropical reef with plenty of nudibranchs and other macro photography opportunities.

Mudjimba Island

Depth (12m | 39ft) |
Open and easy rock reef encrusted with hard and soft corals, perfect for beginners and photographers. Plenty of nudibranchs.


Depth (26m | 85ft) |
Two Pinnacles adjacent pinnacles beginning at 16 meters depth and resting on the sandy bottom at 26 meters depth. Lots of hard and soft coral and small sub tropical fish.

The Caves

Depth (12m | 39ft) |
This rock reef boasts a system of low tunnels and overhung cracks large enough for a diver to explore. The tunnels are close to the surface and very susceptible to swell, so calm seas are essential.

The Cove

Depth (24m | 79ft) |
Flat sandstone landscape, there are a few ledges that can be explored with plenty of hard and soft corals.

The Trench

Depth (18m | 59ft) |
Sand trench running east to west with walls encrusted with hard and soft corals. Schooling pelagics and wobbygong sharks can be found in the trench. Nudibranchs and other macro can be found on the trench walls.
There are many more dive sites in this area that can be arranged on request either to the skipper on the day of this event for normal dives,
or by Contacting Us for specialist technical dives.

Dive Centre

Scuba World

1 Mooloolaba Esplanade, Mooloolaba QLD 4557, Australia Facilities:
Join Rob, Mike and their fantastic team to dive exHMAS Brisbane and nearby tropical reefs. Comfortable 11.3m | 37ft Naiad rigid hull inflatable boat, returns to sheltered waters between dives. Free all day parking and gear loading zone.
Air Compressor
Enriched Air Nitrox
100% Oxygen
Closed Circuit Rebreather Support
Booster Pump
Equipment Hire
Dive Lodge Accommodation


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