Diving in with Bob Diaz

Diving in with Bob Diaz

With estuaries, rivers, lakes and a sweeping coastline, the Central Coast is also home to world class diving bringing divers from around the world to carefully observe the abundance of marine life that shelter in the hidey holes of an artificial reef.
Bob Diaz
Pro-Dive Central Coast, Founder and Managing Director

Professional Dive Instructor and Central Coast local Bob Diaz has dived sites across the world, but with over 16,000 dives, believes the Central Coast is home to world class diving. The founder and managing director of Pro Dive Central Coast, you’ll find him skippering their boat out to the Central Coast’s premier diving attraction, the ex-HMAS Adelaide, most mornings each week.

We speak to the diving aficionado about where to dive and what to do on the Coast…

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Photo Credit: Liam Jon
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Pro Dive Central Coast
Photo Credit: Liam Jon

What do you love most about the Coast?

"The Central Coast has so much to offer, there is definitely a different attitude to life here. There are nice little restaurants, huge lake systems to explore and the marine life brings people from all over Australia."

What is it like to dive on the Coast?

We’ve got 429 dive sites, so there's a lot of different dives. The Central Coast runs all the way from the north, up near Swansea, all the way down to Broken Bay. And we have a very large expanse of shoreline straight out of our coast. In fact, one particular area three miles offshore, the water is only six meters deep. So, it's a massive, big rock roof structure that would cover the better part of about 15 to 25 acres in size, so it's very big.

What is the best place to dive on the Central Coast?

The most unique dive site we have is the ex-HMAS Adelaide. It was a former warship that was scuttled here twelve years ago, and the idea of this was to set up as an artificial reef for marine life and also as a dive haven for divers. It sits at about 30 meters of sand on a long sandy bottom, and it's just so full of marine life, it's absolutely amazing. It's just bringing divers from all over Australia:  we have divers all over the world coming in as well.

The ex-HMAS Adelaide is one of the Central Coast’s biggest offshore attractions. How has it changed in the twelve years since it was scuttled?

It’s gone from just a piece of grey metal to every section of the ship having some form of life on it. There are invertebrates, such as barnacles or tritons or things like that, and masses of brim, kingfish, wobbegong sharks down there. You'll see rock cod, you'll see yellow tail- just name the type of fish and you’ll see from around the bridge- You'll see them all on HMAS Adelaide.

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HMAS Adelaide, Avoca beach
Photo Credit: Tony Strazzari
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HMAS Adelaide
Photo Credit @Sydney Dive Charters.

What other spots would you recommend for less experienced divers starting out?

We have shore dives run right out of Terrigal Haven - that's a nice sandy bottom where we've got a lot of different animals in there- we've got a few grey nurse sharks swimming around at the moment. There’s a big rock ledge rock reef that extends out about 300 metres and it goes around to a sponge garden on the side. It's also got a wreck of the Lord Ashley on top of it.

As a dive operator, what does a typical day on the Central Coast look like for you?

The day starts early for us at 6am, and we put our boat down there in the water by 7.30am. The divers arrive anywhere between 7am and 7.30am. We go out in the boat, we'll do a couple of dives on the HMAS Adelaide or we do a couple of reef dives, then come back. At lunchtime we've got our classes starting, with the open water divers learning to dive back down to the swimming pool to different training with them, and then we've always got servicing to do here, filming cylinders, service and regulators, whatever the case may be.

And we also do night dives. It's a great time because you get to see the daytime animals that are going to sleep. And then you'll see the nighttime animals that actually come out of their hidey-holes and start swimming around.

And as well as that, we've got our home time we pick up the kids, go to school, take them home, enjoy the rest of the time with a family.

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Bells at Killcare, Killcare
Photo Credit: @bells_at_killcare
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The bay Cafe, Toowoon Bay
Photo Credit: @bythebaycafe

What do you love most about the Central Coast?

The lifestyle. It’s easygoing, it's beachfront. Put it this way: the furthest anyone would live away from the beach would be 20 minutes, even if people live over the valley.

Everything revolves around the ocean here. We've got massive rivers, we've got a big lake system.

We definitely have a different attitude to life up here on the Coast compared to the big high-rise areas, and we've got a lot of young families: I think we’re the third fastest growing area in Australia. There’s a lot of houses going up here, and it's bringing a lot of young working people as well.

We're close to Sydney and Newcastle. An hour and fifteen minutes, you’re in the heart of Sydney, just over an hour and ten minutes you’re in Newcastle. We don't have any steel mills or coal mines or anything like that on the Central Coast, we don't have any of that industrial pollution, and it's generally a nicer, quieter place.

What are some of your favourite local places to eat?

So when we go for nice dining areas we go to Bells at Killcare for a nice restaurant and you've got The Cowrie. If you want to go up The Entrance and you want to have really nice, really fresh seafood, then you've got this little cafe called The Bay Cafe on Toowoon Bay Road. There are only about 20 tables inside, but it's definitely right up there as the number one restaurant.

When you've got visitors coming up to the Central Coast, where do you recommend they go?

We've got two major seaside hubs. You’ve got Terrigal, with the five-star hotel there, lot of dining options. In your morning time you've got your runners, the lunchtime crowd that come down to look at the water to do all the bits and pieces. Then you got your afternoon crowd to come down and at nighttime, people that go to the different restaurants in area,

Then you've got The Entrance  - a very, very nice area. It's set up more for a morning trade with a lot of areas for breakfast, a lot of areas to sit down and just sit by the lake, and it's got an estuary that goes out to the ocean. So, you've got two views here of water.

This article was originally authored by Shaney Hudson, with photography by Liam Jon, as part of a Love Central Coast grant project brought to you by Destination Central Coast, jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund. To maintain accuracy, some editorial changes may have been made since publication.