Victoria - World Class Temperate Water Diving Destination

ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive

Read the initial report from the ex HMAS Canberra site survey dive conducted by Dive Victoria on Saturday, 21 November 2009. More about: ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive - Saturday, 21 November 2009: VARS Media Release

She's Down!
The ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 was scuttled at 2 pm on Sunday, 4 October 2009

The ex HMAS Canberra left the Geelong Grain Wharf at 5.30 am on Saturday, 3 October 2009, under tow by tug to her sinking site. The vessel and accompanying flotilla traversed The Rip at 2.34 pm. To see some of the pictures taken during the tow, please see Ship Journey to Site
Due to high winds late on Saturday, the contractors were unable to keep the vessel in position at the sinking site off Ocean Grove. The ex HMAS Canberra was moved out to sea for safety overnight. On Sunday morning the ship was moved back to the sinking site. Final preparations then began, plus final positioning.
At 2 pm on Sunday, 4 October 2009 the ship was scuttled. To see more videos and pictures of the scuttling, please visit Ship Scuttling
The clearance divers have reported that the ship is upright and has settled correctly!

Note: The above information represents the latest news VARS has about diving the ex HMAS Canberra. Within hours of VARS receiving any additional information, we will update this web page. To be notified of any changes, please Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Let's Sink the HMAS Canberra in Victoria!
© Navart - Randall Wilson. Buy a print of this picture here.

Help VARS Sink the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02

  • Secure the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02
  • Prepare the ex HMAS Canberra
  • Sink the ex HMAS Canberra
  • Historic Sinking Ball: Saturday, 17th October 2009 (details)
       Online Ticket Bookings
  • Dive the ex HMAS Canberra

The Victorian Artificial Reef Society (VARS) is the non-profit, Victorian dive community group behind the push to secure, prepare, sink and dive the ex HMAS Canberra as an artificial reef dive site for Victoria. We are working with the Federal and State Governments and their agencies to make this happen. You can help us to achieve this goal by joining and supporting VARS.

You can also learn more about the ex HMAS Canberra and scuba diving in Victoria by visiting the ex HMAS Canberra web site at

World Class Temperate Water Diving Destination

There is more to VARS than just the ex HMAS Canberra. We're interested in all aspects of Victorian scuba diving.

Surprisingly, scuba diving in Australia began right here in Victoria. Historic shipwrecks, stunning wall dives, fast drift dives, thriving kelp gardens, crayfish, abalone, scallops, dolphins and seals. In Melbourne, you can see seahorses, seadragons and cuttlefish on local pier dives — we have it all!

Victoria has an amazing fleet of World War I 'J' class submarines which attract divers from around the world. There are wrecks dating back to the 1700's plus the ships graveyard just off Port Phillip Bay. We have a more colourful and abundant reef eco-system than that of the Great Barrier Reef. Victoria truly has it all!

ex HMAS Canberra arrives in Port Phillip Bay on tow from Rockingham, WA to Geelong
10-June-2008 The ex HMAS Canberra arrives in Port Phillip Bay
on tow from Rockingham, WA to Geelong, VIC
VARS meets with the Minister of Defence
14-Mar-2007 VARS Meets With the Minister of Defence to Discuss the HMAS Canberra
Stewart McArthur (Federal Member for Corangamite), Graham Harris (Ex Navy), Alan Beckhurst (VARS), Mick Jeacle (VARS), Lieutenant Daniel Fankhauser (Aide-de-Comp To Dr Nelson), John Lawler (VARS), Tom Wende (VARS), Rubens Monaco (VARS), The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP (Minister for Defence)

Posted on Monday, 23 November 2009

ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive

21 November 2009 — We are happy to report that on Saturday, 21 November 2009, a Dive Victoria technical dive team was contracted to do a site survey dive on the HMAS Canberra for the government contractor, the Birdon Group, to assess the readiness and safety of the site for recreational divers ahead of the sites public opening.

The site is in fantastic condition perfectly settled listing to her starboard side. She has already established some growth over her and many different schools of juvenile fish were seen through out the dive. The dive through her proved to be far beyond what we possibly imagined. There are still dozens of features in place making each and every room exciting to explore. We were extremely pleased with the way the ship has been prepared and the subsequent cleanup of the items that came loose or were damaged when she filled with water.

The dive showed that the site has been justified in remaining closed until the unstable and damaged items could be removed or made safe. We noted a couple of additional items that will need minor attention and should easily be completed by the commercial dive team during their next dives.

We surveyed depths of key points around the ship and are pleased to say that there is plenty of this wreck safely able to be explored by Open Water certification divers and then the Advanced divers will enjoy exploring down to her maximum depth on the sand of 29m. Penetrating the wreck showed that even seasoned wreck explorers will enjoy exploring this wreck as the maze of rooms each with different items to view means many dives will be needed to truly explore her end to end. Whilst the ship has been made very safe with multiple entry and exit points through out, there is still a true feeling of exploring a real wreck with many over head areas making this a true wreck to respect.

The mooring system appears to have been ideally placed being quite close to the ship and will allow for a good setup to facilitate efficient and safe access too and from the wreck.

Whilst the sea conditions were very good, we have no reason to believe the surge effects even in larger seas will be any worse than is currently experienced on many of the Victoria other open sea sites. It was evident that many areas inside the ship will be protected form surge giving great opportunity to plan a dive to suit the conditions of the day.

We conducted the survey dive using twin tanks and on Nitrox 32 gas and found that this site is perfectly suited to that sort of application giving us a long dive time and enabling us to work through the wreck upward deck by deck and still avoid decompression.

This ship is spectacular and all the team agreed that is without a doubt the best scuttled wreck site any of us have dived. We look forward to the final clean up dives being completed over the next week and then the official clearance and opening of the site hopefully very soon after.

A short video of the dive will be uploaded on various web sites once our report has been released from the contractor.

Jason Salter
Managing Director, The Dive Victoria Group Pty Ltd
Treasurer, Victorian Artificial Reef Society Inc (VARS)

Posted on Sunday, 27 September 2009

VARS Notice of AGM 2009

VARS Notice of Meeting
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Victorian Artificial Reef Society Incorporated (VARS) will be held:

8:00 p.m. on Monday, 26 October 2009

The Bells Hotel
corner of Moray and Coventry Streets, South Melbourne, Victoria (Melway 1D L12)


  1. To receive apologies
  2. To confirm the minutes of the 2008 AGM
  3. To receive the Annual Report (President)
  4. To receive the Financial Report (Treasurer)
  5. To elect the committee for the 2009/2010 year
    positions: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and four general committee members
  6. To elect the auditor for the 2009/2010 year
  7. General Business
  8. Any other business
  9. Close

VARS members are invited to join the current committee for a meal at Bells Hotel prior to the AGM, commencing at approximately 7 p.m. (at member's own expense).

VARS 2009 AGM Notice of Meeting (Adobe PDF | 23.55 KB)

Nominations for Committee

Nominations for Committee are needed for all committee positions — there are 8 positions [President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and 4 general committee] to be filled.

Nomination forms are available from the Secretary:
Alan Storen, 15 Regal Court, Vermont South VIC 3133 or and must be returned 48 hours prior to the meeting.
Or, you can download a copy of the Proxy Form:
VARS 2009 AGM Committee Nomination Form (Adobe PDF | 23.16 KB)

All committee positions are declared vacant at the AGM and new members sought. Some current members have indicated they do not wish to renominate next year.

If there is more than one nomination for a position then a ballot will take place.

Please return all forms to the Secretary so that a returning officer can be appointed if needed.

Proxy Forms

If you are not able to make the meeting you can appoint a proxy.

Proxy forms are available from the Secretary:
Alan Storen, 15 Regal Court, Vermont South VIC 3133 or and must be returned 48 hours prior to the meeting.
Or, you can download a copy of the Proxy Form:
VARS 2009 AGM Proxy Form (Adobe PDF | 23.06 KB)

VARS General Meeting

VARS will also hold a General Meeting on the same night. Any member proposing to raise a motion at that meeting must notify the Secretary by 11 October 2009 so that all members can be given sufficient notice and appoint proxies if necessary.

Posted on Sunday, 26 July 2009

ex HMAS Canberra Historical Sinking Ball

ex HMAS Canberra Historical Sinking Ball

When: Saturday, 17 October 2009, 7.00 p.m. – midnight
Where: Melbourne Aquarium — Coral Atoll Room
Tickets: $150 per person all inclusive (food, drinks, entertainment, GST)
Food: Gourmet three course meal
Drink: Premier sommelier's beverage package
Entertainment: Seven piece band with brass
Dress: Ladies, After 5 | Gents, Lounge/Dinner Suit

Bookings: Online Ticket Bookings
   or contact the Ticket Coordinator:
     by e-mail to
     or by phone on (03) 5988 5508 (8.30 a.m. – 8.30 p.m.)

Tickets are limited, so people wishing to attend this historic event should order their tickets without delay. Tables comfortably seat 10 people. There are a limited number of tables for 12 people available by special request.

Any special dietary requirements (vegetarian, coleliac etc.) will need to be conveyed to the ticket coordinator, preferably via the Online Ticket Booking Form or by e-mail.

Nearby Parking

Secure Parking - 474 Flinders Street
$10 after 6 p.m.
Secure Parking is open until:
   3.00 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays
   11.00 p.m. on Sundays – Thursdays.

Crown Casino
   Mon to Thurs $12.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
   Friday $12.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
   Saturday $6.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
   Sunday $6.00 (6am-9.30am) $6.00 (9.30am-5pm)
   Mon to Thurs $20.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
   Friday $20.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
   Saturday $10.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
   Sunday $10.00(6am-9.30am) $10.00(9.30am-5pm)
For all other times and details regarding the location of these car parks, please call Crown Information on 03 9292 5505 or visit

Melbourne Aquarium - nearby parking and accommodation (Adobe PDF | 283.29 KB)

Nearby Accommodation

Crowne Plaza Melbourne
Across the Yarra River from the Melbourne Aquarium - 5 mins walk
Contact: Anthea Scerri
Phone: 03 9648 2652

Rendezvous - 328 Flinders St, Melbourne
Approximately 10 mins walk from the Melbourne Aquarium
Contact: Louise Osborne
Phone: 03 9250 1888

Clarion Suites Gateway - Cnr of Flinders & Williams Sts
Approximately 7 mins walk from the Melbourne Aquarium
Contact: Natalie Moutou
Phone: 03 9296 8853

The Langham Hotel - Southbank
Approximately 10 mins walk from the Melbourne Aquarium
Contact: Kylie Shorter
Phone: 03 8696 8041

Melbourne Aquarium - nearby parking and accommodation (Adobe PDF | 283.29 KB)

Older news
> 17-Jul-09: Target Date Set for ex HMAS Canberra Sinking
> 01-May-09: ex HMAS Canberra Site Concerns Appear Resolved
> 05-Apr-09: New ex HMAS Canberra Site Concerns
> 21-Feb-09: ex HMAS Canberra Ship Preparation Nearly Complete
> 22-Nov-08: VARS Moves Forward With ex HMAS Canberra Project
> 28-Sep-08: ex HMAS Canberra Project Progress Report
> 05-Jul-08: ex HMAS Canberra Arrives - VARS Patron Announced
> 12-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra Arrives
> 07-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra to arrive on Tuesday, 10th June 2008
> 03-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra is on tow to Victoria
> 29-Mar-08: Sinking Site Agreed On for the ex HMAS Canberra
> 16-Jan-08: ex HMAS Canberra Project Progress
> 19-Oct-07: VARS Moves Forward With ex HMAS Canberra Project
> 12-Oct-07: ex HMAS Canberra Reef
> 12-Sep-07: VARS AGM 2007
> 28-Aug-07: VARS Notice of AGM 2007
> 23-Jul-07: Federal Government Offers to Fund and Sink the ex-HMAS Canberra
> 20-Jul-07: VARS Meets With Tourism Minister
> 26-May-07: Update from VARS President, John Lawler
> 21-May-07: Dive hopes sink
> 08-May-07: MPs Respond to VARS Concerns
> 23-Apr-07: VARS puts delay concerns to the Minister of Defence
> 20-Apr-07: Delay strikes divers
> 10-Apr-07: Red tape ties up ship for peninsula dive site
> 10-Apr-07: VARS Launches ex HMAS Canberra Web Site
> 10-Apr-07: VARS Meets With Minister of Defence

[ Visit the ex HMAS Canberra web site ] [ Subscribe to our Newsletter ] [ Tell A Friend | Top ]