I first dived the ex HMAS Adelaide just six months after she was scuttled in 2011. At the time I was surprised at just how much encrusting growth had already grown – the once grey frigate was bright green! I went back recently to dive her again on the fifth anniversary of her submersion in April 2016 to see how the old girl had changed.
Structurally she looks the same, the gantries are intact and even the captain’s chair and control panel seem unchanged after five years in underwater.
What has changed is the level and colours of encrustation and the fish life that has been attracted. There are plenty of hula fish and yellow striped piece, but also blennies and hawkfish sitting silent and still on the rails. There’s bigger stuff too: Eastern blue groper, banner fish and even batfish.
The bow of any wreck has always held a fascination for me, I like to hover in front of and just above the bow and look at the ship from the position that you never would be able to if it was still afloat. Others, like my subject here, like to look the other way!
Navigating the wreck is pretty easy whether you go through the inside of it, or just above the rails on the outside. There are some great schematics of the wreck on the wet on the wreck’s own website (www.hmasadelaide.com), well worth a look at to re-familiarise yourself with the layout and check the depths, before you go.
There is now quite a bit of sand piling up against the hull and inside the lowest hold you will actually be at a depth deep within the seabed outside.
At 138 m long, a single dive does not do it justice and is best to plan two dives to see the areas that are of particular interest to you. Swimming randomly through the wreck is also possible though, as there are so many holes cut in it horizontally and vertically you could just keep winding your way through it forever.
His strange to think that it was only in active service for 28 years and during that time it saw service in Timor, the Gulf and the Southern Ocean. It was home to about 200 crew at any given time, eight of whom were the chefs that kept all of them fed!
The Adelaide is a pretty accessible dive, just six minutes boat ride from Terrigal Beach. Diving with Les Graham’s Terrigal Dive, you step aboard the dive boat fully kitted up, rest your butt and tank on a bench and within 10 minutes you’re descending a fixed line straight to the bridge.
Coming back is just a straightforward and you’ll be enjoying a hot drink on your surface interval, or a hot shower after your last dive in a similar timeframe.