Most of our dive sites are located out in the open or in direct sunlight. Usually these sites are reefs that have no sunlight obstruction. But there is a popular shore diving site in Western Australia where you can explore shaded patches of coral courtesy of the elevated structures of an elongated jetty that transports agricultural products from a receiving warehouse to a waiting cargo vessel. If you’re interested, then let’s head out to the Kwinana Grain Terminal next to the Rockingham center and explore the underwater habitats of the Grain Terminal.
The dive site is located 42 kilometres (26 miles) south of Perth, 37-minute drive from Perth via the Kwinana freeway. Following the same road network to the Rockingham Wreck Trail and prior to Point Peron. On the road, you will not miss your dive site as on the opposite side of the road are massive grain silos. The dive site is marked by a 800-meter (2,625 feet) long jetty that runs parallel to the shore where there may be some large cargo vessel birthed at the end and its presence will really stand out in the sea.
The Dive Plan
Once you locate the jetty, proceed to the designated parking area, where afterwards, you can unload and set up your gear. Word of WARNING there have been multiple break-ins of divers car left alone. Accessing the jetty is not possible, you will need gear up at the car park and walk with your gear on to the beach via the pathway leading from the parking area. Once in the shallow waters of the beach, you can put on your fins and swim out towards the standing structures of the jetty.
Important Note: We highly advise you to swim at the surface towards the jetty and only start descending once you reach the first ladder since the topography is only composed of sand, rubble and there is nothing much to see underwater. This will make navigation easier and conserve your air.
Once you pass the first ladder and start descending near a surface buoy, you will then realize that this dive site is teeming with marine life especially under the structures of the jetty. Having a closer look at the structural foundations of the jetty, you will see that most of the concrete are covered with barnacles, algae, sponges and corals. At the seafloor which progresses in depth up to 10 meters (30 feet), you will see that fish are also thriving in this shaded area like pufferfish, damselfish, batfish and a lot more. But sometimes, seeing marine life would be hard as the visibility only ranges from 4 to 8 meters (13 to 26 feet) and very seldom does this site have clear water, maximum recorded clear visibility is only at 12 meters (40 feet). But it doesn’t mean that navigating your way along the Grain Terminal would be difficult as you just need to follow the concrete structures of the jetty. As a navigational guide, most, if not all dives starts with the concrete structures on your left side. From the first ladder, it will take you a 450-meter swim before you can reach the edge of the main birthing end jetty where the sea floor starts to slope.
Word of Caution: Going to the end birthing jetty should not be attempted when there are cargo vessels alongside. In case there is none, then you can proceed exploring the slope (Air Permitting) and visit the adjacent sandy area that is filled with mussels. When there is a cargo vessel at port, then do not explore the last hundred meters of the jetty and instead turnaround back to shore. Since you are navigating in a straight line, all you need to do on your way back is make sure that the concrete structures are on your right side. In this case, you are making a 180-degree turn without the use of a compass.
Dive only if the Weather is Good
Generally, the prevalent weather of Kwinana is calm to fair. However, since it is facing the open sea, the area can experience strong winds and big swells. In times of bad weather condition, strolling along the beach is pretty much the most convenient way of appreciating nature’s beauty rather than go diving underwater. This is especially true during the onset of the north-westerly winds. On the other hand, Kwinana is perfectly protected from the easterlies and partly protected from the southerlies making theses conditions generally calm and safe for diving.
Side story: History of Kwinana
From time immemorial, Kwinana was not yet called Kwinana. It was still a bare land with no name. It’s story started when a 105 meter (345 feet) long steamship was brought from England to Western Australia to serve both as cargo and a passenger vessel.
In June 14 of 1912, this English- built ship (formerly named SS Darius) was bought by the State Shipping Service of Western Australia. On top of the cargo deck, she was refitted with a saloon located at the stern that will serve traveling passengers taking the northwest coast route. She was inaugurated and formally launched on the 15th of July on the same year and was christened with a new name, SS Kwinana, derived from an Australian Aboriginal word which means “pretty maid” or “young woman”. On her initial years of operation, SS Kwinana was sailing good, not just on local waters but also on high seas as she serve an international route to South Africa, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, it is not always a fine day for SS Kwinana where she suffered series of mishaps, especially while at the Gulf of Cambridge. Her hull plates just beneath the engine room were badly damaged when she hit an offshore rock and her steering gear failed causing the ship to run aground. Minor incidents also occurred like fire in her coal storage, machinery damage while at Broome Western Australia and a leak while at Christmas Island in her Number 1 hold. Despite what happened to her, SS Kwinana survived all of these incidents, repaired and continued sailing.
Not until the evening of Christmas Day in 1920 that SS Kwinana met her triggering incident in Geraldton that will eventually lead to her final resting place. Fire erupted in her cross bunker and the flames grow uncontrollably due to its timber cargo and the 300 tons of coal she was carrying. In hopes to seek help at shore, the crew continued sailing her towards the nearest port while trying to control and extinguish the fire using hand pumps. Only after New Years Day when she arrived at Carnarvon Jetty that fire out was declared. But as a consequence, she needed to be sunk.
Resting at 19 feet (5.7 meters) of water and in an attempt to put her back to service, the SS Kwinana was pumped out and raised above the surface. Luckily, she did get back to service. But fate is still not on her side, and by this time, incidents involved are mostly collision with other ships. With its value greatly depreciated, the owners decided to scrap her. Finally, in May 29, 1922 while being towed on her way to Garden Island, she was again in a collision course. This time, not with another ship, but with a storm. She ended up in shallow waters just a few meters before a stretch of white sandy. Of course, that beach was named after SS Kwinana and eventually adopted as the Town’s official name when it was Chartered in 1937. The Town of Kwinana was born and the rest is history.
PS. Do not try to look and search for SS Kwinana on the beach as it has been blown up several decades ago and was scrape out of metal. Well, if you are really interested to see her, part of her hull is still present and a good view of her remains is still distinct especially if you view her from the top using drone and the like.
Video courtesy from AJRWhite1