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Tweed Heads
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At Tweed Heads the cool temperate waters of NSW meet the warm tropical waters of QLD, drawing a mix of marine species from both.  Cook Island features nudibranchs, Spanish dancers, shrimp, lobsters, moray eels and lionfish for those prepared to hunt around.  Visit the more challenging 9 Mile site in current for large species such as grey nurse sharks, bulls sharks, leopard sharks, eagle rays, bull rays, and devil rays.  Tweed River is a reliable shore dive with some good drift opportunities and hiding tiny juvenile lobsters. 

Daniel Blanks

Keen diver

Cook Island is an awesome dive, highly recommended! If you want to see turtles and leopard sharks, Cook Island is the place to go. The dive centre Kirra Dive are very professional, and will cater to anyone's needs.

Dive Sites

Cook Island

Depth (12m | 39ft) |
Great photography site loaded with both tropical and temperate species including a population of Spanish Dancers.

Cook Island lies where the temperate waters of NSW meet the tropical waters of QLD and draws a mix of marine species from both.

To the north a boulder wall drops from 4 to 12 meters depth, and shelters nudibranchs, Spanish dancers, shrimp, lobsters, moray eels and scorpionfish for those prepared to hunt around. Below the boulder wall, the north side drops away to a mostly sandy bottom and scattered low boulders where divers can find large pelagics and rays. 

To the south a similarly macro rich bolder pile drops from 3 to 8 meters depth, running away to sea grass beds that are a magnet for turtles.  Green, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles can be seen all around Cook Island.

Other big critters attracted to Cook Island include spotted eagle rays, manta rays, leopard sharks, lion fish and wobbygongs.

Divers should be on the lookout for rare and unexpected finds, which have included leaf fish, beautiful marble shrimp, juvenile emperor angelfish, and tiger cowries. 

Only a short trip south of the Tweed River mouth, Cook Island is a popular and easily accessible destination for dive and snorkel tour boats, jet skis, and cruisers.  Divers should be aware of high boat traffic.  To mark their position for surface traffic all divers should carry an SMB and know how to deploy it from five meters. 

Cook Island is a fairly shallow dive site, rarely exceeding 8-12 meters and is susceptible to medium swell.  

9 Mile Reef

Depth (30m | 98ft) |
Covered in macro life and attracting all sorts of sharks, turtles, ray and other big critters. Less often dived and definitely worth spending some time.
Subject to less diver traffic than other dive sites in the area, 9 Mile Reef is encrusted with algal and hard coral growth, and is an aggregation site for a range of both large and schooling pelagics.

A key feature of this reef is the sand channel between rocky outcrops which attracts leopard sharks, manta rays, wobbygong sharks, shovel nose rays, turtles (green, loggerhead and hawksbill), and eagle rays.  9 Mile is best dived in a moderate current when it is a resting place for all these big critters.

Even when there is no current and 9 Mile Reef looses much of its larger species, there are some great walls encrusted with growth and all sorts of macro life.  Overhangs and small caves further add to the interesting terrain.

9 Mile Reef is located midwater and exposed to potentially strong currents.  For this reason the dive is often done as a drift dive rather than have divers fight the current to get back to the anchor line.  Experienced divers can deploy an SMB before making their ascent to signal their location to the boat.  Since the deployment is likely to be in moderate current, divers should not attempt this without prior practice in a calmer environment.

Divers without experience of sub-surface SMB deployment should make sure they each carry a visual signalling device to deploy when they reach the surface after a blue water ascent.  Less experienced divers should stay together with a dive master.

Tweed River

Depth (12m | 39ft) |
Reliable and convenient shore dive with clear water, good macro if you have the patience to find it, lots of silvers and flathead. Best done on incoming tide or slack high tide.
 From the carpark off Coral Street, there are two entry points:  the stairs at the western end of the carpark, or the beach just east of the carpark.

The best diving is along the sea wall stretching from the front of Jack Evans Harbour to the small beach on the northern edge of the river mouth.  The seawall here is comprised of large boulders down to about 10m and hides a variety of shrimp, crabs, moray eels, and octopus. 

You can also find juvenile lobsters on this section of seawall, a unique and surprising attraction of the Tweed River dive.  The larger boulders at the bottom of the seawall are piled and lean against each other to create overhangs and miniature caves.  To find juvenile lobsters look for pairs of one inch, bright white antenna sticking out of holes in the underside of overhead rocks.

The northern seawall is the outside edge of a bend in the Tweed River, and as such the water has scoured the sand away from some interesting rock platforms and low reefs.  These are focal points for schooling silvers (blackfish, bream, tailor, whiting, dart) and provide a good mid current anchor point to hold onto. 

This area is a great night dive site, and is one of very few sites in NSW where you can see river prawns amongst the rocks after dark.

Cross to the shallower sandy area on the southern, inside edge of the Tweed River to find spotted eagle rays, blue spotted rays, bull rays and flathead, but be aware that the current is stronger on the inside edge of the river bend.

Continuing up-river past Jack Evans Harbour will eventually take you past to the Hospital.  The wall along here is comprised of smaller and looser rocks, with much less marine life.  There are still silvers, flatheads and the occasional ray to be found, but not in the same quantities.  The main attraction of this latter section is hunting for old bottles deposited on the river bend.

It is also possible, but not advisable without properly planning gas consumption and logistics, to reach the beach at Ebenezer Park where you can sit on the bottom in 4m and watch from below as Herons plunge into the water hunting fish.

To get the clearest visibility plan to dive around an incoming high tide when the cleaner sea water is dominant over the murkier river water.  Smaller tidal changes will correspond with slower current and longer slack tides.  Slack tide on the river is 30 to 60 minutes after the posted time tides for Tweed Heads.

Divers and fishermen share this area, so be courteous and try your best to stay out of their way.  There is also a large volume of boat traffic over the site, so avoid any mid water ascents.  It is also recommended that divers carry an SMB and know how to deploy it from at least 5m depth.

Ballast Rock Reef

Depth (30m | 98ft) |
Near the reef are large ballast rocks dumped by old tall ships scattered on the sand.

Fido Reef and Wreck

Depth (18m | 59ft) |
Sand channels, walls, trenches and a host of other rocky features. The clear remains of a large iron shipwreck encrusted with growth.

·                   Constructed 1904 in Frederickstad, Norway.

·                   Twin screw steamer, steel construction, triple expansion boiler.

·                   Tonnage 904.28 (metric), length 21.5 meters, width 3.26 meters, draft 2.27 meters.

·                   Wrecked 19 July 1907 off Tweed Heads near Cook Island, on a voyage from Nauru to Sydney carrying phosphates.

The surrounding reef is striated with parallel slits, trenches and sandy bottomed canyons that tend to end abruptly.  There are overhangs and low tunnels.  The occasional grey nurse shark can be found in the canyons.

The Fido rests on the southern edge of the reef.  While mostly flattened by the ambient swells over the reef, the Fido retains much of her decking and collapsed hull plates surrounded by the clear outline of the wreck. 

The reef and wreck are both heavily encrusted with green algae growth, spreading sponges and stubby green seagrass.

The area is usually subject to moderate currents and it is unlikely divers will return to the anchor line. 


Australian Government - Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; "Australian National Shipwreck Database", available at <https://apps5a.ris.environment.gov.au/shipwreck/public/initiate-mch-search.do?mchTypeCode=MCT_SHWR>.

SS Alberta

Depth (18m | 59ft) |
Very shallow shipwreck with surprising amount of structure intact. Surrounding rock reef.

·                   Constructed 1888 in Newcastle, United Kingdom.

·                   Twin screw steamer, steel construction, triple expansion boiler.

·                   Tonnage 2249.53 (metric), length 31.58 meters, width 3.92 meters, draft 2.54 meters.

·                   Wrecked 17 October 1890 off Tweed Heads, due to pilot error on a voyage from Japan to Melbourne.

From the bow of the Alberta, scattered rubble gives way to increasing signs of structure and larger sections of wreckage.  Hatch covers, and sections of her shattered hull are identifiable among the low rock reef.  Larger items such as bollards, and various engine components are readily identifiable.

A key feature of the Alberta wreck is the enormous boiler.  The two boiler tubes are each large enough for divers to penetrate and swim through.  The rectangular recesses midway through the boiler tubes have been known to shelter tawny nurse sharks and wobbygong sharks.

The stern of the Alberta is surprisingly intact for such a shallow depth and there is significant structure remaining.  The hull is largely intact, as is the internal structural support beams, with some decking and bulkheads remaining.  Finally the wreck ends with the huge propellers and rudder.

The Alberta and the surrounding low rock reef are encrusted with brown and green algae, spreading and globular sponges, and green sea grasses of various types.  Cuttlefish have been known to lay eggs in some of the deeper nooks and crannies of the old engine components.


Nearby are patches of huge bomboras piled haphazardly so as to create a playground of tunnels, overhangs, walls, sheltered grottos and flat-topped mesas.  

The bomboras provide shelter from ambient currents, but are relatively shallow and so suffer from surface swell. 


Australian Government - Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; "Australian National Shipwreck Database", available at <https://apps5a.ris.environment.gov.au/shipwreck/public/initiate-mch-search.do?mchTypeCode=MCT_SHWR>.

Kingscliff Pinnacle

Depth (30m | 98ft) |
Fractured rock pinnacle crossed by intersecting trenches. Thick encrustation over the rock surface supports a huge variety of nudibranchs, including many unexpected species.

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

Kirra Dive

1/133 Wharf Street, Tweed Heads, NSW, Australia Facilities:
Join the friendly team at Kirra Dive to visit Cook Island or the more challenging 9 Mile Reef. Most days run Tweed River shore dives. Free weekend BBQs and chill out couches.
Air Compressor
Enriched Air Nitrox
100% Oxygen
Closed Circuit Rebreather Support
Booster Pump
Equipment Hire
Dive Lodge Accommodation


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