Aussie RT – Day 21-22: Exmouth (America Down Under) – Navy Pier Dive

Australia, Learned something new today, WA Roadtrip — By on November 15, 2010 2:10 AM


The town of Exmouth, located on the tip of the northwest cape of Western Australia, was established in 1964 to support the nearby United States Naval Base. The US built a pier to man the twelve towers used to communicate with submarines during the cold war, their signals reaching as far as San Francisco.

Back then, Exmouth was its own little America down under, the majority of town inhabited by American military professionals and their families. They built a drive in theater and even decided it was okay to drive on the right side of the road. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) took over the 1990s and today there is a sign posted to the entrance that says “Western Australian road rules apply to this base.”

Today the pier remains a working defense facility but the town relies on tourism for its existence given its proximity to Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park.

Exmouth’s Navy Pier is rated as the 6th best shore dive in the world. Fishing is prohibited in the area which allows for a variety of marine life that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world – like the black sailfin catfish. One can swim with whale sharks from April to June. Only one dive company is allowed onto to base each year to conduct dives. I dove with Ningaloo Dreaming, many thanks to Dave for the discounted dive! Divers must bring their passports and pass through several security checkpoints prior to entering the pier. Only certified divers that have logged dives at least 6 months prior are allowed to dive this site.

I always get a little anxious before diving at a new site but the 45 minute pre-dive instruction had me more on edge than normal. The dive instructors clearly took their job seriously, which is a good thing, but their warnings of strong currents, barnacles, and a giant cod fish that is known to bite had me on edge more than normal.  Surrounding the pier and the “danger zone” that we should avoid with a swift current that would send you out to sea at a speed of 40 km/hr. I was diving solo this time which didn’t really bother me but there is something comforting about having a mate as a buddy instead of being paired with a stranger.

We were able to do two dives this day, each for 50 minutes underwater at a depth of 14 meters (45 feet) under the sea … definitely one of the coolest dives I have ever done! We saw heaps of really big fish and 11 shark sightings! The giant cod that roam the pier are at least 5 feet long! There were schools of big eye trevally, moorish idols, turtles and barracuda just to name a few.

I always find it difficult to put into words my underwater adventures.

Watch the video I made below for a glimpse of what I saw while exploring the underwater world surrounding the pier.

To see more photos of Exmouth and all that lives in the sea under the pier CLICK HERE.

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