Stick around scuba divers for oh, about 30 seconds, and a debate on the world's best dive will inevitably begin. Everyone has a different opinion, but ask anyone who has dived the SS Yongala, off Townsville, Australia, and suddenly conversation stops while some serious hemming and hawing begins. The truth is, no one will commit to calling a place the best in the world, simply because most people haven't dived everywhere, and divers are always talking about this place and that. And some divers love the big animals, some wrecks, some coral gardens and macro critters. There's just no satisfying everyone. This is exactly why you should perk up when divers start to hem and haw about whether or not a certain single site is the best in the world.
Just how good is the Yongala?
Well, on a recent trip aboard the Mike Ball Dive Expeditions live-aboard, Spoilsport, we moored over the Yongala for two full days. Not two dives. Two days. Ten dives. One can search far and wide around the world to find a site that 28 divers, from a wide variety of backgrounds, are willing to dive 10 times in a row while on a live-aboard. And it's not like there wasn't anything else to draw our attention. There was the beckoning underwater wilderness of the Coral Sea and the Flinder's Reef portion of the Great Barrier Reef. There was also a shark dive. Plus, conditions on the Yongala are challenging, with an almost continual wash of current, and viz that averages about 40 feet. So, what kept us there?
Well, what makes the Yongala so significant in the minds of divers is that it's not merely a dive site, or even a wreck; it's an entire constantly churning and swarming planet of diving. There are thick forests of soft corals, legions of snappers, wrasse, sea snakes, damselfish, anthias, tiara batfish, grouper, whiptail stingrays, jacks, gobies and sea turtles. And everything comes in the size that comes after XXL. I think it is called whopping. It's almost frightening how large some of the marine life gets, especially the jacks and sea snakes. If you've got your With a macro lens, you may only ever see about 30 feet of this wreck, only 30 feet of this wreck may ever be seen, so thick and diverse is the marine growth.
Now umm hummm well I don't know if it's the best dive in the world, but it's certainly worth going all the way to the land down under to experience.