A NSW Government website

Ex-HMAS Adelaide dive site

The ex-HMAS Adelaide is a former Royal Australian Navy warship that was scuttled (sunk) in 2011 to create an artificial reef for marine life and the enjoyment of divers.

The dive site is about 1.8 km  off Avoca Beach, near Terrigal on the Central Coast of NSW. It is an ideal site for experienced divers.

The warship is 32 m deep and attracts divers from all over the world, supporting tourism and economic outcomes on the Central Coast.

Before diving on the site, you must have an entry permit and a booking for a mooring.

Dive masters should take precautions when taking divers near the damaged structure.

Make a booking

Before you make a booking, please read the important information in the frequently asked questions below. 

To book a mooring or get an entry permit (dive permit), email [email protected] for booking forms.

Frequently asked questions

How can I dive the ex-HMAS Adelaide?

There are several ways to experience the ex-HMAS Adelaide. Each diver must: 

  • have an entry permit before diving
  • access the site from aboard a boat that already has a mooring booking.

Several commercial operators offer dive tours to the ex-HMAS Adelaide.

You can also dive the ex-HMAS Adelaide from a private boat. To do this, get an entry permit and book a mooring by emailing [email protected]

How do I book?

You can book dive tours through commercial operators servicing this dive site location. Alternatively, dive club and independent, experienced divers may choose to book a mooring.

To book a mooring or to get an entry permit, email [email protected] for booking forms.

After the department receives your completed form, we will respond within 2 business days.

When can I dive the ex-HMAS Adelaide?

The ex-HMAS Adelaide  is open daily between 6.00 am and 6.00 pm. Night diving is prohibited.

For safety, we may suspend access to the reserve after severe weather. When this happens, the department will notify local tour dive operators and people who have been issued an entry or mooring permit.

What qualification level do I need to dive the ex-HMAS Adelaide?

If diving, you must comply with: 

  • Australian Standard AS4005.1, or 
  • International Standard ISO 24801-02 (Diver Level 2 - Autonomous Diver) 

as a minimum level of certification. The site is not suitable for inexperienced divers unless a qualified guide accompanies you.

You must be able to show your diving qualifications (for example, certification card or ‘C’ card):

  • to the dive operator if you have booked a commercial dive tour
  • to the skipper of your vessel if you are participating in a private or club dive
  • or if requested by the department or the department’s authorised agent.

Occupational divers must comply with all relevant SafeWork NSW requirements, including, but not limited to, complying with Australian Standards AS2299 and AS2815. Occupational divers must have the appropriate qualifications.

How many moorings are available?

There are 4 operational moorings. The existing moorings are shown in the diagram below.  Mooring bookings are for 2-hour timeslots, to allow a safe and comfortable dive experience.

HMAS Adelaide Diagram
How much would an entire dive cost, including permit and mooring?

There is currently no charge for any entry permit or mooring booking.

Prices will vary if you are diving through a commercial operator. Contact commercial dive operators for quotations on diving packages to suit your needs.

Will there be fees to enter this dive site in the future?

The department does not currently charge fees to access the dive site. However, this is likely to change in the future.

If we introduced fees for entry permits and mooring bookings, we would use the revenue to offset the costs of regular site inspection and maintenance. This would help us maintain the safety of the diving experience and make the artificial reef a world-class dive attraction. 

What are the dive conditions like?

As with any dive site, you should talk to experienced local dive operators to understand the surrounding oceanic conditions. This will help you make the right decisions about whether a dive should go ahead.

The site can be affected by both waves and currents. Water temperatures average between 18°C in winter to 24°C in summer.

Are there any special hazards on the dive site?


Divers are prohibited from accessing the interior of the wreck at depths greater than 30 metres because of the high risks of entering an enclosed space at these depths.

About artificial reefs

The ex-HMAS Adelaide was prepared and sunk to create an artificial dive reef.

An artificial reef is a structure placed on the sea floor to attract new marine life to an area. These structures may improve fishing opportunities, serve as dive sites, help protect the coast , deter trawling activity, and reverse habitat loss.

The reef develops over time. It goes through various stages of marine growth and occupation, eventually becoming home to a thriving marine ecosystem that attracts divers from all over the world.

When a 'new' structure is introduced to the marine environment, tiny organisms such as microscopic algae in ocean waters land on its surface, creating a first layer of ‘slime’. Layer upon layer of micro-organisms slowly settle on these surfaces, creating a food source for many more permanent and visiting organisms. Eventually, a more prominent reef develops on the surface of the structure, which attracts fish and other marine life. 

Environmental monitoring and reporting

Australian law regulates the creation of artificial reefs under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (Commonwealth).
A sea dumping permit ensures that creating an artificial reef does not threaten the marine environment or marine users. After a comprehensive environmental assessment, a permit was issued for scuttling (sinking) the ex-HMAS Adelaide.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal considered a wide range of environmental issues when it reviewed the permit and allowed the scuttling to go ahead.

An ongoing condition of the permit is that the department must monitor and report on the artificial reef, in keeping with a long-term monitoring and management plan . All results of this monitoring are available below.

In 2016, the ecological monitoring done in the 5 years since the scuttling was reviewed.

Post-scuttling report April 2011

This report confirms the date and time of placement, position, water depth, inspection dives and position of navigation markers.

Additional surveys and reports

Sediment sampling

These reports monitor seabed sediment quality and movement, including how metal corrosion and paint degradation could potentially influence the surrounding environment.

Bioaccumulation studies

Bioaccumulation monitoring determines if resident marine species are likely to be affected by the vessel’s zinc chromate paint.

Structural reports

Regular structural inspections and assessments of the ship are conducted in line with the long-term monitoring and management plan. The ex-HMAS Adelaide has settled on the ocean floor in an upright position. Download a diagram showing the depth measurement and ship schematics.